Travis Parker. Born on August 21, 1989. Raised in rural NE Texas farming town, Ravenna. Population 209 (2016)
Farming. Motocross. Hunting. It's what you did growing up in a tiny town such as Ravenna, TX. Unlike most his peers however, it's not what Travis Parker would be doing forever. At age 15, Parker recalls singing "Mississippi Mud" by Hank III acapella very loudly over the roaring motor of an 80's open cab Ford tractor, when he thought to himself
"Damn, this doesn't sound half bad".
Fast forward to 2008 (age 18) Parker is given his first acoustic guitar from his father and begins learning his first set of chords.
Although only picking up a guitar for the first time a few years ago, storytelling has been something Travis has been doing since grade school. Stories written about the people he knows, the lives they live and stories reflecting his own experiences. Stories transformed into songs. In 2011 he sang a few of his first songs at an open mic in Denison TX. Motivated by the positive feedback, he returned the following week and entered a singer-songwriter contest held at the “Steel Rose”. Eight weeks of contest ended with Travis taking gold. His winnings included a giant cardboard $1,000 check, a write up in the local paper and billed as the opening act for Brandon Jenkins giving him his very first paid show. With the extra cash and newfound passion he recorded a super low budget solo EP. Marking the dawn of Travis Parker’s music career.
In 2011, The Travis Parker Band formed and in 2013 their first album, “Finding Direction”, was recorded and released. Those first few years they would open up for local bands, play various private parties, and the same small town venues- leaving bits of their souls on gooseneck trailers each time. Fueled on promises and a dream, Travis put virtually all his time and money into music. But blinded by the fluorescent lights other life elements started to suffer. Band members came and went and those oversized checks didn’t seem to be a recurring thing. Travis's fire was starting to burn out.
In 2015 he rebranded by fronting the alt. Country band “Ravenna Sun”. They’d open for artist such as Cody Canada, Zane Williams, Uncle Lucius, and Paul Cauthen; having shows booked every weekend for months out. The reactions and criticism he received were even bigger and better but the choices he made were more detrimental. With multiple failed attempts at releasing a record, drunken nights became routine. Substance use, infidelity, and a God complex that oftentimes ended in fist fights followed. Bridges were burned and bad relationships with people in the business were made. The rapid, small, success that seemed so big overpowered his judgement and obstructed his view for seeing crucial moves in his career. After a divorce and a complete breakup with his band he stopped booking shows entirely and started working a Monday-Friday job. Luckily however, you can take the storyteller out of the stories but you can’t take the stories out of the storyteller. Travis continued to write. This time- stories that were a lot closer to his heart.
In October of this year his eldest brother, whom his song "Western Town" is for, was married. Prior to taking the trip, Travis decided this was the perfect opportunity to get back on stage and give giggin' another go. So he booked a two week solo mini-tour through New Mexico. Travis claims that
"it can be difficult to feel successful when from Texas- you will have weekend shows booked 6 hours apart and still be in the same state!....Going to a completely different scene and getting a good response with no one I know in the crowd reminded me why I love to play and gave me the much needed reassurance I can hold an audience solo."
The time off has seemed to have given Travis a vital perspective on the moments and circumstances that have helped define him. It has helped strengthen his intimate relationship with only his voice and his guitar- helping find his true sound- one he is confident in. Through a 1977 Alvarez, various harmonicas, and a voice full of grit, Travis is bringing old sound to new times. With self-reflection came humbling and with newfound love came hope and the strength to not let go. His newly released solo EP "Bent Leaf Sessions", is a collection of songs reflecting just that. One song in particular he was most eager to release is an introspective song on love and how he describes it,
“a love that lasts a lifetime. Love at the highest level, not a childhood love most mistake for it….it’s a special song because it’s one of the few that is through and through 100% about myself."
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