Back-up Vocal~ Recently, I had a rare experience that brightened an otherwise bleak, rainy Pittsburgh Monday. I stumbled across a notice on Facebook Newsfeed, informing me that the Travis Larson Band was playing a free show at a guitar store in Erie, PA. I’ve been a fan of their music for two decades. But, I have never been able to see them live. They were not playing Pittsburgh on their current tour. Their closest gig to me was Akron, Ohio. So I figured I had missed them again. Until, I saw the Newsfeed notice that morning about their small show that same night in Erie. I jumped at the chance to see them. Especially since I’ve cited the band several times in the pages of Mannyacs and I am Facebook friends with Travis Larson. Thus, anytime he has been given a Shout-Out in my work, I always make sure he knows. The Cosmos finally lined up the right way, and during the evening’s “Meet and Greet” segment, I was finally able to introduce myself to the man. As the “Manny Guy”. 

The show was fantastic. A small stage, an intimate setting and the band played a wide range of their music. Plus, they walked the crowd through the arsenal of gear they use.  Meeting all three of them was stupendous. They were extremely warm and friendly and shared several stories about their studio and touring lives. One of the real highlights of the evening was meeting the Travis Larson Band bass player, Jennifer Young. She has been one of my favorites for a great many years. Each time I listen to a new album from them, I always pay particular attention to her immense sonic contributions. Jennifer Young is also unique, as she is one of a tiny number of female bass players in the Instrumental Rock world. Sure, there plenty of female bassists in genres like Pop, Soul, Funk, R&B and even Metal has a handful. But, Instrumental Rock has remained largely a “boys club” for most of it’s tenure in the musical landscape. From what I can gather, that’s not by any sort of deliberate design. More than likely, it’s because Instrumental Rock is an extremely niche oriented music style already. There is a monumentally short list of women who choose to play Instrumental Rock, have record deals and release albums. That’s just on guitar, never mind bass. So, anyone….be they man or woman, has to really want to devote themselves to this particular realm of music, that is often only truly appreciated by other musicians. Or, guitar enthusiast nerds like yours truly. From everything I’ve read over the years, Instrumental Rock is a “Calling” and an uphill battle regardless of gender. Because, most radio stations won’t play it, you can’t dance to it, record labels don’t know how to promote it, casual listeners don’t understand it and creating it full time as a profession is not the easiest way to make a living. It was clear that Travis Larson and Company have spent unfathomable time perfecting their craft and it was stunning to watch all of them. But, witnessing Ms. Young play bass in person was particularly mesmerizing. She’s an incredible talent. Plus, she smiles when she plays. All three of them do. There were no “tortured artists” on the stage that night. This band loves what they do and the joy they feel in playing their music together was louder than the speakers.  

Thus, I left the show that night with the the next Comic writing itself in my head on the three hour drive back home. I felt Ms. Young was long overdue for a nod from the Mannyacs citizenry. “Nightfall” is one of my favorite Travis Larson Band songs. I love the deep, rich and mellow bass tone she brings to  it. So, with Bo generating a solo bass album, that tune was the perfect model for him to follow. In addition, when we throw in Bo’s crush on Jennifer Young (I did’t see that one coming), he gets a blueprint AND a muse in one swoop. 

Finally, it has not escaped my attention that thus far, Hapler has been unusually quiet in this new story. I did have a few of his fans letting me know he’s been scarce. This Comic seemed the right time to bring him back around. I was reminded yet again that our boy is possessed of an absolutely archaic notion of how to romance a woman. Part of his charm? Depends whom you ask.