“It’s just me and a guitar. No other band members. Nobody else. It’s just me and a guitar and that’s about as stripped down as you could possibly get,” said 50-year-old Tritt, who was born and raised in Marietta.
The intimate evening is a rare opportunity for even Tritt’s biggest fans to learn more about the artist from his background, influences, history and heroes.
“When I play these type shows, it really feels like I’m not in a big concert venue. It feels like I’m in an intimate setting. It feels like I’m sitting in my living room — that’s about as a relaxed environment to be in to open up,” said Tritt, whose roots run deep in Cobb County.
Tritt grew up off Post Oak Tritt Road in east Cobb near Sprayberry High School, where he graduated in 1981. His grandfather was Will Tritt, a local farmer who allowed others to sharecrop his land.
“He did a lot for the community,” said Tritt, explaining that his grandfather also served on a local school board and as a deacon in a church.
Post Oak Tritt Road was named for Tritt’s grandfather and a small church then located on the road, Post Oak Baptist. Tritt Elementary was also named for Will Tritt.
Tritt recalled Marietta when times were simpler.
“It very much was a small town when we grew up. The road that we lived on was about 2.5 miles long. There was probably a total of 8 or 10 houses on that entire road. I didn’t know what a subdivision was until I was probably 13 or 14 years old. It was so remote that if you had company coming over and you went outside and heard a car coming — that’s your company,” he said.
Tritt’s talent was recognized at an early age.
“My mother says I was singing coming out of the womb,” Tritt said, laughing. His father was the late James Tritt and his mother is Gwen Tritt.
Tritt recalled his first public singing performance at the First Assembly of God Church (then located behind Roswell Street Baptist Church) where the family attended. His Sunday school teacher decided his class would sing “Everything is Beautiful” by Ray Stevens for the adult church.
“She picked me to sing all the solo parts, and then the children’s choir would sing behind me on the choruses,” Tritt said.
After the performance, people in the community understood Tritt’s gift.
“Every time they would see me or we would have visitors come over to our house or anytime anyone would see me on the streets, they would ask me to sing. A lot of times they would give me a nickel or a quarter or something for singing part of a song. I learned very quickly that there was money to be made,” he said, laughing. “It’s also something I enjoyed doing from the very first.
“I was encouraged by all the accolades from a very early age,” Tritt said.
While attending Dodgen Middle School, Tritt assembled his first bands.
“Anytime I had an opportunity to perform in front of people, I took that opportunity and I always enjoyed it. It was something that a lot of people requested and a lot of people commented on as far back as I can remember,” he said.
Tritt, who described himself as “an average B student” in high school said, “I loved history. I loved creative writing and that sort of thing. I was terrible at math, terrible at science.”
Music played a dominant role in Tritt’s teenage years. At Sprayberry, he led a bluegrass band that “morphed into a country bluegrass band,” called Chance Mountain Grass. The band played regularly at different school functions, including a talent contest where they placed second performing “Momma Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys.”
Through these bands and work with the theater department, Tritt developed a network of friends.
“I knew a lot of people and I got a tremendous amount of encouragement through classmates and teachers as well,” he said.
Like many Sprayberry students, Canton Highway was one of Tritt’s stomping grounds.
“Everybody went there on Friday and Saturday nights and would just cruise up and down Canton Highway,” he said.
“Everybody used to go to the skating rink over there — right there at the corner of Canton Road and Sandy Plains. Everybody used to go there and skate. Those were all the places where everybody would hang out. It was a much, much different place. I don’t even know if I would recognize it now,” Tritt said.
Though these small town experiences may seem insignificant to some, they carry over to Tritt’s music. “Having that kind of a small-time feel and being able to drive to places like old parks, or places I went on my first dates, or places where I got my first car, or places that I wrecked my first car, or places that stand out in your mind have always been an inspiration for songs I’ve written over the years,” he said.
“Those memories come rushing back and it creates an opportunity for me to have a place to start writing. It’s still very much that way,” Tritt said.
Tritt’s Southern ties make up the fabric of his music. Though he is known as a country music artist, he was influenced by a variety of music icons from country singers such as George Jones and Johnny Cash to Southern Rock artists such as the Allman Brothers Band, Lynard Skynyrd, The Marshall Tucker Band, and Charlie Daniels Band along with blues singers like Ray Charles and Otis Redding.
“Take all those different (artists) together and then sprinkle a little Southern Gospel over top of it and that’s pretty much where I came from,” Tritt said.
In spite of offers to move to Nashville, Los Angeles or New York, this southern boy retreats home to Georgia with his wife, Theresa, to raise their three children. They have a 15-year-old daughter, Tyler Reese, and two sons, 14-year-old Tristan and 10-year-old Tarian.
“The reason I’ve resisted (moving) is that no place feels like home to me the way that Georgia does and it remains that way to me today,” Tritt said.
Since 1992, the family has lived in Paulding County outside of Hiram. “At that particular time, Paulding County was extremely rural and it reminded me of what Marietta was 30, 40 years ago when I was a kid. It had that small-town feel,” he said.
“As towns grow, a lot of that small-town charm remains in a lot of the areas around metro Atlanta. That’s one of the reasons I’ve enjoyed being in this part of the world and that’s why I still call this place home and will until the day I die. It feels more like home to me than anywhere I’ve ever been,” he said.
Tickets to “An Acoustic Evening with Travis Tritt” are available at ticketmaster.com. For more information, visit cobbenergycentre.com and travistritt.com.