Trout Steak Revival’s McNamara talks ‘heart and soul’ ahead of BV show

Travis McNamara, songwriter and banjo adept from the beloved progressive bluegrass band Trout Steak Revival will bring a two hour song-lab to the Jailhouse Craft Beer Bar on Thursday, May 31st from 6-8 p.m.  He is “really excited” to return to Buena Vista, which he describes as one of his favorite places to play.

The Denver musician has a busy touring schedule with his band, but he makes room for solo performances about once a month in order to find a “home” for the songs he writes that don’t fit with the Trout Steak Revival spirit. McNamara connects with traditional acoustic music and themes, but as an individual songwriter he draws on a wider array of tones and moods. The songs he plays solo are more experimental, softer and folkier. “I’m heart and soul playing these songs.  I don’t really write about events in real time, but I sit down and ask myself how I feel in the present moment.” He then pulls in images and experiences, bits he’s “plucked from conversations” and noted in his smart phone that help connect his thoughts to humanity in just the right, memorable way.  The music and words that develop from that process feel “honest” to McNamara. He connects personally with rangy songwriters like Guy Clark, Sturgill Simpson, and Bonnie Raitt.

McNamara also cites self-described “collage music” duo The Books and Radiohead album “Kid A” as recent influences that have inspired his musical exploration. Along with his guitar, he will bring along the drum machine/sampler/sequencer which he’s been using to arrange with more electronic sounds.

    “…everyone is listening with that special silence, like we are suddenly all in a vacuum

and just experiencing the moment together.”

The monthly solo performances are also an opportunity for the craftsman in McNamara to get a workout. He just played a show in Denver with Westword Music Award winning songwriter Megan Burtt who he calls the “bridgemaster,” because “she writes the best bridges.” He was really inspired by the collaboration and they have talked about recording some of the music they wrote together for the performance.  Reimagining songs by Chris Stapleton and Iron and Wine is another recent project he may show off during his solo set, alongside his original music.

In bringing McNamara to town, The Jailhouse presents a prolific artist who is pushing out his boundaries to create music that is both fresh and honest. His favorite moment of any show is when “everyone is listening with that special silence, like we are suddenly all in a vacuum and just experiencing the moment together.”