Randy Travis won’t sing what he doesn’t like

CorrespondentOctober 24, 2012 

Randy Travis.

COURTESY OF WARNER MUSIC

  • Details Who: Randy Travis with Randy Montana When: 7 p.m. Sunday Where: Durham Performing Arts Center, 123 Vivian St. Cost: $42.50-$66.50 Details: 919-680-2787

Critical and viewer reaction to ABC’s new country music-themed series “Nashville” has been overwhelmingly positive, for two reasons. It’s an excellent show, and people who truly love country music can relate to its basic premise: Country music is being taken over by auto-tuned teenyboppers.

That’s a broad-brush complaint, and not entirely true. But it seems like you’re more likely to hear a cute young thang with sparkly production on commercial country radio these days than, say, a great old-time singer like Randy Travis, who plays at DPAC in Durham Sunday.

Despite the state of radio, the endangered practice of actually buying music, and his own recent legal troubles, Randy Travis still has a major advantage. He’s one of country’s greatest male singers, and that’s not lost on the loyal fans who can’t get enough of old honky-tonk heartstring classics such as “I Told You So” and “Forever and Ever, Amen,” sung in that deep, buttery drawl.

Travis’s legacy was celebrated on CD last year with “25th Anniversary Celebration,” a collection of re-recorded classics sung with admirers including Alan Jackson, Tim McGraw and Carrie Underwood.

Responding to questions via email recently, Travis says fans can expect to hear a lot of those chestnuts on this tour.

“I believe in doing what people expect to hear,” he says. “So, every show will include the hits. And if folks in the audience have a request, I’ll do that for them also. Meanwhile, I look forward to the upcoming show in Durham.”

It’s a good thing Travis lets fans have their say, because he says it’s hard to pick personal favorites from a vast catalogue that includes several gospel albums among the classic country releases.

“I don’t record any music that I don’t like,” he says. “And I’m very thankful for it, because not everyone can say that … I’ve been fortunate to be able to do only the type of projects that I’ve wanted to do for nearly 30 years. I’m pretty much a traditionalist. So, I’ll continue sticking close to country music and, of course, I love gospel music.”

Travis doesn’t answer a question about a series of unfortunate news stories about him this year, involving alleged incidents of public intoxication, brawling and drunk driving (most notoriously, he was reportedly found lying naked and intoxicated on a road in Grayson County, Texas, in August).

He does, however, graciously talk about his current tour, his legacy and his upcoming recording and television plans. He’s doing a CMT Crossroads TV special with fellow North Carolinians The Avett Brothers set to air Nov. 23.

“I am honored for the opportunity to work with the Avett Brothers on the project because they are incredibly talented,” Travis says.

As for future recordings: “Talks just got underway about doing a new album. But, right now, I’m still focused on the ‘Anniversary Celebration’ CD that we released about a year ago, and the ongoing ‘Anniversary’ tour because I love doing live performances and would like to stay on the road as long as I can.”

And as long as old road dawgs like Travis George Jones and Merle Haggard want to share their gifts with us, we owe it to ourselves to take the offer.

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