Travis Tritt to solo at Canton Palace

By Malcolm X Abram
Beacon Journal pop music writer

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Travis Tritt performs at the Barnstable-Brown Gala associated with the Kentucky Derby in Louisville, Kentucky on May 5, 2006. (Brian Tietz/Lexington Herald-Leader/KRT)

Live music options are picking up in Northeast Ohio with bands hitting the road again and vying for your concert-going dollars.

Among the musical offerings are country music legend Travis Tritt, who will perform a solo acoustic concert Friday night at the Canton Palace Theatre.

Longtime country music fans remember Tritt and his fantastically voluminous hair as part of the fabled “Class of ’89” when future country superstars including Alan Jackson, Clint Back and Garth Brooks released their debut albums.

During the Marietta, Ga., boy’s ’90s heyday, Tritt was a bit of an outlier in country music, which honestly wasn’t that hard to be at the time. Tritt mostly skipped the big cowboy hat and boots for rock-influenced showmanship to go with his soulful voice. He had a string of hits including Country Club from his debut album, which earned him a top new male artist award from Billboard.

Tritt went on to win two Grammys for The Whiskey Ain’t Workin’ (how awesomely country is that title?), a duet with Marty Stuart in 1992 and the all-star posse cut Same Old Train with Stuart, Black, Ricky Skaggs and others.

Tritt had five No. 1 singles including Can I Trust You With My Heart in 1993, Foolish Pride in 1994 and Best of Intentions in 2000. Add his six platinum-plus-selling albums and Tritt has amassed quite a legacy.

I talked to Tritt many years ago before he was inducted into the Georgia Hall of Fame and he talked about how he developed his soulful singing style after visiting a black church as a kid and how Southern rock influenced his sound and songwriting.

Recently, Tritt rereleased his 2007 album The Storm, produced by American Idol’s Randy Jackson, which got caught up in a protracted legal battle after his label Category 5 folded. Now Tritt has amended The Storm with two new tracks including a duet, Sometimes Love Just Ain’t Enough, with his daughter Tyler Reese and a fairly reverent cover of the Faces rock classic Stay With Me. Tritt renamed the album The Calm After (get it?).

Tritt has been doing the solo acoustic tour thing for a few years now, and for any fans who think his best days are behind him, chances are you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how strong his voice still is and that he’s a better guitar picker then you think.

Rockin’ for the King

On Monday, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland will celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day with a full day of events including education programs, family activities and, of course, live music. Main Stage performers include the Antioch Spiritual Arts Choir and the Distinguished Gentleman of Spoken Word, an all-male group of adolescents drawn from Cleveland’s “inner city” communities.

Also performing will be the Cleveland School of the Arts band Inspire *1* and 13-year-old singer and Akronite Macey Sampson, who has sung the national anthem at a MAC basketball championship tournament game.

Over in the museum’s Foster Theatre, folks can watch Dr. King’s I Have a Dream speech in its entirety along with the documentary The Night James Brown Saved Boston, which is a fascinating look at how music and specifically “The Godfather of Soul” helped to keep the city of Boston from exploding the day after Dr. King’s assassination by televising Brown’s concert in the hope of keeping angry folks inside and not rioting in the streets as was happening in other major cities around the country.

I’ve seen the film and it is quite a compelling musical, social and political time capsule and perhaps something that many young folks who have been raised on the purposefully empty effluvia of much of current pop music should see.

Sonny Geraci update

Since the big two-day benefit concert for former Outsiders singer Sonny Geraci, who suffered a crippling aneurysm a year and a half ago, I’ve gotten a few calls from either old friends or fans either wondering how Geraci is doing or if he has died. So, I reached out to Geraci’s friend and assistant Rae Antonin for an update.

“Sonny is pretty much the same and holding his own!” Antonin wrote in an email. “He has good days and bad (same as all of us I guess! HA!) … he doesn’t walk and he has short term memory loss still, but all that said, he is doing good for all that has happened to him!”

So there you go.

Malcolm X Abram can be reached at or 330-996-3758. Read his blog, Sound Check Online, at, or follow him on Twitter @malcolmxabram.

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