Beautiful music often comes from Pain

March 4, 2018

Anticipation for weeks was now coming to a climax as it was minutes before the show would begin at The Listening Room. Eric Erdman, Travis Meadows and Whiskey Jack would soon be performing; Eric was the opener for the evening. This grouping happened last year at The Listening Room and plenty of people remembered it fondly and rushed to see it again. The place was full of folks who eagerly waited for these words from Jim Pennington, “Ladies and Gentlemen, Welcome to The Listening Room, the show is about to begin!” Most were already familiar with his rules…No talking while the musicians are singing, we will respect them and respect others in the audience by allowing them to hear the words and music.”… When a person pays to hear live music, they expect to actually hear it! Thank you for the rules Jim!


Travis Meadows is small in stature but huge in wordsmanship! He has had more trials and sadness in his life than the average person. Travis had cancer in his right ankle at age 14 and it left him with am amputation just below the knee. My son Eric Erdman also had cancer in his right ankle at age 14; fortunately his outcome was much better. I find it fascinating that they share that earth-shattering history and they are survivors. 


Travis’ heart is as heavy as anyone’s I have ever known, I don’t know how he can carry that much weight, that much deep sadness and still function. He tells of ways he coped that he is not proud of and he openly talks about his numerous trips to rehab. There is also a light in his story as he recently remarried and he has found sobriety…such a fabulous turn of events. 


This man is one of the best lyricist I have ever had the pleasure of hearing….let me give you some samples:

“If I could buy myself a conscience that wasn’t broken

Mend every fence I drove my hard head through

Re-lock all the doors I wish I never opened

Unlearn the things I wish I never knew

And it came out through the bottle

It came out through my fists

It came out way too early

I wish it never did.” 

(The above lines are from “Sideways” …written by Travis Meadows


Here's another that I cannot get out of my head since last night’s show:

“We all want what we ain’t got

Our favorite doors are always locked

On higher hill on a taller top

We all want what we ain’t got”


“We ain’t happy where we are

There’s greener grass in the neighbors yard

With a bigger house and faster car

We ain’t happy where we are”

(This is from his song “What We Ain’t Got” by Travis Meadows and T. Jerome)


As I write this blog, I am like a child who wants to tell you all about her trip to Disney World. This man can drag beauty out of darkness and pain.


Travis Meadows has been through tremendous emotional pain on many levels as he speaks of his almost non-existent relationship with his father, you can feel the heartache all the way down to your toes. In this song about growing up way too early (just as his father did)…this one sticks to me like gorilla glue. (my own parents started life when they were still kids…17…not knowing much about life but learning it all the hard way)


“My daddy was a boy

 All dressed up in grown up clothes

 And the bottle my daddy clung to

 Would not let my daddy go

 At seventeen he had a baby

 He couldn’t watch that baby grow

 And the baby grew up like him

A little boy in grown up clothes”


Just typing these lines brought me to tears. The depth of this man’s soul is endless. He  became a preacher for a while and sang primarily Christian Music. He won awards and great honor in that genre. He fell away from preaching and he explained when you fall from that you fall very hard.


Travis Meadows is one of the strongest willed people I ever hugged. What a privilege that was for me. 


I also want to mention the other two people in last night's show. Opening was Eric Erdman and he was spot-on wonderful. He picked just the right songs from his huge repertoire to fit the evening. He was on his game and flawless in his presentation.


And last but not least was Whiskey Jack (Jack Untz) who accompanies Travis Meadows. He is a standout for sure. He makes quite an impression with his snow white hair pulled back into a pony tail. 


Whiskey Jack plays laptop steel guitar, mandolin, electric guitar, maybe a few more instruments and he adds just what is needed to compliment Travis’ sound and to emphasize those heartfelt, bold, honest lyrics. 


As always, the show at The Listening Room was certainly worth the price. 

Afterwards, many in the crowd wanted to stand around and talk about the experience of the evening. The emotions that were poured out on us, saturated us, awakened us and helped us know the depths of this man from the time he was a young boy to the minute he took this stage tonight. How much better can a story be told?


I'd like to say thank you to the talented musicians, and thank you to Jim Pennington for this beautiful night and for making it all happen.


Juanita Smith

Music Mom






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