Travis Mitchell is a Dallas, TX-based singer, songwriter, guitarist, and leader of the four-piece Travis Mitchell Band. The Dallas native didn't pick up a guitar until he was almost finished with college at the University of Texas at Austin, but his ambition quickly made up for his lack of experience. After the songs he'd been writing got a warm reception at various open mic nights, he put together the first version of the Travis Mitchell Band and cut his first album, Forget What's Wrong. The music combined country, Southern rock, honky tonk, bluegrass, folk, and even some metal and hip-hop into the pot. Its combination of Texas roadhouse country and Nashville radio-friendly country turned heads at Rock Ridge Records, the company helmed by Chris Henderson of 3 Doors Down, which signed the Travis Mitchell Band to a contract after seeing them live. His first album for the label, Waiting on Tomorrow, was released in September of 2007.
Mitchell was born in Dallas in 1982. His father owns a small chain of feed stores and Mitchell grew up comfortably middle class. Both his parents have extended families full of talented amateur musicians. Mitchell's mother has a wide-ranging taste in music and exposed him to country, R&B, and other kinds of music, but in grammar and high school Mitchell was more interested in writing short stories and poetry than music. In his last years at the University of Texas at Austin, where he was majoring in sociology with a minor in psychology, he decided to set some of his poems to music. In 2002 he bought a guitar and a few books on songwriting and guitar playing and started writing songs. After graduation he moved back home and worked for his dad. At night he started hitting open mikes. His gritty vocals and original songs got a lot of attention and he put together the first version of the Travis Mitchell Band to help flesh out his ideas. They only played out for about four months before they headed into the studio to make their first album, Forget What's Wrong.
The self-produced album got rave reviews in the Texas press for delivering traditional country music with a rock edge. After a series of personal shifts the band settled down to the quartet of Mitchell on acoustic guitar, harmonica, and vocals, Ty Taylor on lead guitar, mandolin, and pedal steel, Jonathon Bryant on bass, and Paul Laymon on drums. Chris Henderson of 3 Doors Down heard the album and signed Mitchell to his Rock Ridge label. He also agreed to produce the band's second album, Waiting on Tomorrow. The album's secret weapon is lead guitarist Ty Taylor, a musician with monster chops who's adept at laying down crunchy metal riffs, fleet-fingered country chicken pickin', moaning pedal steel accents, and soaring bluesy guitar solos that can sound like George Harrison or Brian May without straying to far from the bedrock of his down-home country style. ~ j. poet