By Dave Fountinelle | email@example.com
Travis Brooks is busy. The Central Valley native is currently part of three different music projects, teaches guitar lessons, and, most importantly, is a new dad. Any one of those things would be enough to eat up all of a person’s free time, so how does Brooks manage to pull it all off?
“I honestly have no idea how I do it,” He laughs.
Juggling all of these projects is no easy task, but Brooks has been doing this ever since he first picked up a guitar. For over 20 years now, he has been working to make a career out of playing music. Ask anyone who’s done it, and they’ll tell you, it’s an almost impossible task in even the most musician-friendly cities. But, for a struggling artist in the Central Valley, it’s miraculous.
“It’s definitely still very much a ‘pay to play’ business here,” Brooks says. “It has certainly improved in a lot of ways, and there are a few places in Fresno and Visalia in particular that really treat local artists well and make sure we get paid fairly, but you still really have to hustle and stay busy all the time if you want to make a living playing music around here.”
So that’s precisely what Brooks has been doing. Since 2014, he’s been playing with a bluegrass band, New Dustbowl, along with Nathan Swift on banjo and vocals, Chris Casarez on guitar, Suzaan Botha on violin and vocals, and Jeremy Fatica playing bass. He also plays with country artist JJ Brown. He’s got his own group, The Travis Brooks Trio. And, he even does a one-man solo set utilizing loops improvised on the spot that is truly impressive to see live. And, if you’re interested in learning how to play the guitar, or know someone who is, Brooks also fits in time to give lessons somewhere in all of that, too. He somehow manages to do all of this while handling arguably one of the toughest and most demanding jobs there is – being a stay at home daddy to an adorable little girl.
“She lets me know when I’m working too much,” Brooks shares, “Sometimes I’ll be in my music room, and she’ll come in with a pillow and sit down on the floor and watch me play. But then sometimes she’s just like ‘ok Dad, that’s enough, it’s me time now,’ and she’s the boss!”
All of that hard work and dedication have paid off for Brooks. He’s built good relationships with some great local spots in Fresno, Visalia, and all over the valley. You can come to see him every Wednesday at Goldstein’s Mortuary and Delicatessen – easily the best-named business in Fresno.
“Everyone at Goldstein’s is awesome, they take good care of us there. It’s one of my favorite places to play.”
Brooks is also preparing for an incredible show with JJ Brown in Washington DC on May 23rd. They will be performing for over 100,000 people there at the Million Man Ride.
“I’m so excited for that show, it’s really going to be such an amazing opportunity. It’s all coming out of our pockets, so I’ve been working twice as hard to cover that, but you can’t say no to playing for that many people in a place like Washington DC, right there in the middle of it all.”
In addition to keeping his performance schedule full, Travis has also recorded music with New Dustbowl, which you can check out on all the streaming services. JJ Brown also has his music available to stream. And Travis is in the process of recording his solo material to make available as well.
“I’m hoping to have something ready to put out by this summer,” Brooks continues, “But I don’t want to rush it. I want to make sure whatever I put out there is the best I can do.”
In the meantime, Brooks plans to continue being one of the hardest-working performers in the Central Valley music scene. He’s always looking for new places to play and new fans to win over.
“It’s crazy, for sure. But honestly, I don’t know what I’d do with myself if I didn’t stay busy all the time. I don’t think anyone wants to see that!”
You can listen to Travis Brooks playing with New Dustbowl on iTunes, Spotify, Amazon, GooglePlay, and all other streaming services. You can see him live at Goldstein’s Mortuary and Delicatessen every Wednesday night, hire him to teach you guitar or follow him for the latest information about his upcoming performance schedule and everything else he’s got going on at his Facebook page or on Instagram @Travisbrooksmusic.
New Dustbowl – www.NewDustbowl.com
Follow on Facebook @NewDustbowl
JJ Brown – www.JJBrownMusic.com
Follow on Facebook @JJBrownMusic
Travis Brooks Solo (acoustic, bluegrass/folk/Americana) – Follow on Facebook @TravisBrooksMusic