Travers Chandler talks about his latest recording: “Pardon Me”

Image634744102338396101“One could use any number of adjectives to describe the direction cohesive theme of this recording. I choose emotional. Despite what anyone tries to make you the listener think, without emotion, music is meaningless.

Ponder for a moment why you even listen to music. I would venture that it is because it invokes or stirs some sort of emotion within you.

In this my third album as an artist, I have left a recording that will stir emotion within me for the rest of my life. I am not much of a studio performer. I excel at live performance, but this recording even astonished me in how powerful a song can be in making a point or conveying sorrow. Frankly it frightens me to listen to it sometimes.

As some of you are aware I have been performing traditional bluegrass and country music for over twenty years (most of my life being I am 32 now). I never had any intentions on anything really. I sang because it was the only thing that would stop the hurting in my heart. That and Adam Poindexter once told me how chicks dig singers. I have yet to see this but maybe I’ll have another twenty years to prove him right.

Jokes aside, I have been a devoted disciple of traditional music and particularly the history of bluegrass and traditional honky- tonk style country. Everything I do is to keep alive the legacies of my heroes. I have made this my life and have sacrificed nearly everything in my life to do so, which is the least I can do considering my heroes sacrificed much more including their lives. As I’ve gotten older it seems I’ve gone from student to historian and that’s what I really love. I love sharing this music with new people. It’s what I live for.

As with my previous two recordings (Me and The Jukebox 2007, State of Depression 2010) Pardon Me… is tragic, dark, and depressing at times. I always get a chuckle on the road when I meet people who have purchased our recordings and were shocked to find me a wild sparkplug onstage. This is no accident. While I have always been generally sad, I live for being onstage and I try and leave every ounce of my heart and soul everywhere I am. You will find me laughing, joking, jumping around, who knows. When I sing the sad songs, such as the ones here, I’m leaving myself vulnerable, my heartbreak on display for the world to see. Music is a feeling to me. I don’t have setlists, I play tremolo on the mandolin, and I sing and play loud. One might think I were a non-conformist if they didn’t know I just played what I loved.

Much to my bands dismay over the years, I never put any thought into a recording. I pick the material when I get to the studio and there you go. Pardon Me still has that same spirit but it was a much longer process. When we started this album in September of 2011 the band was entirely different than now (as you will hear on The Stanley Brothers, the only cut featuring those band members) The album was finally completed in April 2012. What you hear as you listen will tell the tale of those months in between; possibly the most heartbreaking and difficult times of my life. With that adversity tugging at me, I went into the studio and turned it all loose into the microphone. I poured every ounce of my heart and soul into this album and for the first time, I actually am truly proud of a recorded effort of mine. The songs are all emotional. Even the two instrumentals Reuben takes the D Train (our arrangement of Reuben) and Richard Underwood’s Newton Grove sound angry.

Through personal turmoil, and an entire band shift (Merl Johnson remained on fiddle) I wasn’t sure if I even wanted to move forward with music. I believe in God and I believe he has a purpose. This was reaffirmed when two of the finest young musicians and dear friends of mine jumped aboard this crazy train. Tom Issacs from Boone NC comes in on the Five Sting Banjo. While still in his early twenties he displays an amazing prowess on his archtop banjo. His driving banjo was the missing piece. I can only describe his playing as a mix between Allen Shelton, Richard Underwood and tons of Tom. It puts the band sound even further in the old school which makes me smile. His longtime friend, musical partner John Bryan from Boone NC steps in on guitar and demonstrates on the old Osborne Brothers song, One Kiss Away the natural clear tenor that very few are gifted with. His rhythm guitar playing is driving like a freight train. These two young men are the two biggest reasons you are reading this right now. They are the true future of bluegrass music.

Jessica Smith from Lubbock, Texas is heard on a great deal of the album on upright bass. Jessica was in the band from 2010 until just before the release of Pardon Me. The band would never have gotten past a bar in NC without Jess. She stepped in behind the scenes from promotion, to booking, to finances, to being my biggest fan. She sings with me on The Stanley Brothers. I can’t thank her enough for everything.
When Jessica departed I called Eddie Lovelace from Maggie Valley, NC to help fill in. Eddie was a long time member of Charlie Moore’s Dixie Partners, recording several albums with him. This brings it all homes as everything I do is in Charlie’s memory. That’s how the band got its name and Eddie and I have shared a lot of tears talking about Charlie.

Merl Johnson from Woodbridge, VA remains on fiddle. He is one of my best friends but aside from that, the most naturally talented musician I have ever known. Listen to the emotion of his fiddle. The tone and sense of melody. He’s the most underappreciated fiddler in Bluegrass Music and we are fortunate to have him.

You will notice that only 3 songs on this record feature harmony singing. While our live shows feature all sorts of harmony structures, sometimes I feel the message needs to be delivered by one messenger, so the message isn’t mishandled. This recording is one of those times.

I hope that this recording has touched you or has stirred emotion of any kind within you. I have opened the door to let you inside the heart and soul of a mad man. Now don’t stay too long I don’t like company.”  ~~Travers Chandler~~

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