He says he’s a fool; says he’s a damn fool. Direct, concise, straightforward, and candid as hell. Combine these attributes with a foolhardy humor as well as a refreshing sense of humility and you find Travis Meeks. (You can also find him at the Oshkosh WI Algoma Club on Fri and Sat July 23 and 24!)
What defines success? Is it money? Power? A sense of accomplishment? Is it multi-platinum record sales and chart topping, foot-stomping tunes? Is it landing the record deal of your dreams? None of this is relevant, not according to Mr. Meeks. I can’t help but wonder if the meek will indeed inherit the earth.
Travis defines his personal success as simply as this: "It’s just Travis." One could wonder if this statement would lend itself to the ideas such as "to thy own self be true," and "be yourself, love yourself, success will come to you as long as you believe in yourself." It could be all or none of this. We’re left to wonder…but my gut tells me that’s exactly the point. Think for yourself.
"Questions, questions and then more questions. You can only ask so many of them before you lose yourself. You can lose who you were in the first place." Put your thinking caps on, readers. And rent "Nightmare Before Christmas." A chuckle from Travis and a comparison ensues. "I’M JACK! The pumpkin king…he sees everything that’s goin’ on and wants in on it. But he doesn’t do it the right way, the way it’s been done..ya know the way it’s SUPPOSED to be. He says ‘I want this and this, and THIS, oh YESSSSSSSSSS AND THIS!!!’….BUT he goes about it differently. AND….Jack saves Santa Claus."
More to this than meets the eye? Oh of course there is. There always is.
If you’ve heard the previous Days of the New albums, you’re in the know. I, myself, am late to the party on this one…but don’t throw things at me just yet, I’m present and accounted for. Still, I could smack myself for not giving this unique, unplugged, acoustic celestial music an ear at an earlier date. It’s not that I rebelled; it’s not that at all. I was late in owning the CD’s. No excuses, but no "exposure" either. Earlier this year, one of my good friends bought me all the DOTN CD’s as a gift. (Thank you Brent.) Perhaps, if I’d heard it before this year, I wouldn’t have been "ready" or open to it yet; who knows. What I do know is that I’m stunned as well as hooked. With the exception of a few songs that lend a hand to profanity here and there (such as "Words,") my six year old daughter is hooked, as well. She says "Mom, I like his voice. He’s got class," and gives it 2 thumbs up. There you have it - and from the mouth of a babe. But still, I’m at a loss to eloquently define or describe the "genre" or even to classify this, other than to say that it is ART.
Art is one of the basic humanities; a skill that is learned and refined through experience. It is the conscious use of skill and creative imagination. How else can a listener identify the variety and diversity that you’ll find in the sometimes symphonic, often tribal, global and world moods that unite with such fluidity as you’d find with Days of the New? I’m no scholar when it comes to defining and categorizing music, but this band plays paintball with every damn genre in the book. (And wins.)
Travis tells us that the songs he’s been working on, the ones we’ll hear soon, are as follows: "It’s like…well it’s like WORLD GHETTO. You’ve got some American ghetto, and then there’s that, but this is what I call WORLD GHETTO." Wow. Ok so that inspires an easy question…what in the HELL has Travis been listening to these days? (quiet moment of pensiveness on the tele) "Well, I can’t get this music off my mind. It’s Japanese music." Alright, that certainly fits into my theory (as a listener and fan) that Mr. Meeks is not tuning in to the latest top-40’s and hanging out with Dick Clark or Rick Dee. So elaboration is called for in this case. "I can’t get this outa my head, this music. It’s really kinda sad. It makes me feel like this old woman singing and chanting has been given a ‘gift.’ She’s been given this terrible gift to witness all of the pain of the earth. There’s some chanting, but a lot of instrumental Japanese music."
Remind me to link you readers at maxink.com later to some of these tunes as soon as I return from his Oshkosh shows in July. (more info below) I’m delirious with curiosity about this Japanese music now. It’s bugging me and I have to hear it.
The current DOTN lineup certainly maintains something quite unique. A standing bass! Travis says that he’s really enjoying the opportunity to collaborate with this new bass player, Michael Dufresne, whom he met through DOTN drummer Ray Rizzo, who’ll be joining Travis again for these shows. Michael’s prior work with The Louisville Jazz Project must have been something to see when there was everything from a frontline of trumpet, trombone, and baritone sax to a rhythm section of bass, piano and drums. But what is it that pegged Michael’s spot with the band? "It’s amazing to work with him. It’s fun to write and create with someone like Michael." The term "bad-ass bassist" is floating around in the dotn fan-pool these days and we know why. Travis is picky. He has a right to be. Shit...If I could pick up a guitar and play like that, I’d be picky about my onstage companions too! Wouldn’t you?
It will definitely be the most intriguing, inspiring show I’ve attended this year thus far, especially with such blues and jazz influences in the veins of the performers! Can’t wait to hear some old DOTN tunes, and Travis says there may be some new music featured at this show as well! Me - "Hey Travis, will we get to hear some of your new music?" Travis - "mmmmmmmmmmmaybeeeee." Har har...I hate suspense. But he laughed before and after the ‘maaybbeee’ so I’m goin’ with my gut on this one. The guy’s written TONS of songs over the years that are unreleased...there will be tons of diehard dotn and meeks fans present! HELLO! If he doesn’t play some of the new stuff...I’ll let you put me in a dunktank. How’s that?
Well, needless to say, between the Japanese music he’s indulging in and the standing bass player, I don’t know what the hell to expect. Maybe that’s the point, yet again.
Oshkosh, WI. Days of the New, LIVE at The Algoma Club…which is located in the upstairs of the famous Water City Grill…July 23rd and 24th.
Two evenings with DOTN and tickets are ONLY available at www.watercitygrill.net. No ticketmaster charges!…can’t beat that! We all become potty-mouths when we rant about finance charges and all those fees. Travis, along with his band, will be coming in to town for these shows only, this is NOT a "tour." More details are available in the ad in this issue as well as on the Water City Grill’s website, but I feel I must warn you…GET YOUR TICKETS NOW FOR PETE’S SAKE…this show will sell out. I’m a firm believer that it will sell out, because Travis has not.
I should mention, The Water City Grill (downstairs) is known for it’s affordable MENU of everything from chicken strips, nachos, buffalo wings, and calamari to philly cheese sandwiches, salads, and rib-eyes. So bring your friends and your appetite, and get ready to rock your ass off with Days Of The New!!!
DAYS OF THE NEW @ The Algoma Club
Fri & Sat...July 23 & 24, 2004
107 Algoma Blvd. Oshkosh, WI 54901
Phone #: (920)233-3004 TICKETS ON SALE AT WATERCITYGRILL.NET OR BY PHONE!