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The Travis Allison Band introduces a more acoustic sound to the party soundtrack.

Beyond Pig Roasts

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Travis Allison doesn't take kindly to the "frat rock" tag that gets slapped on his group now and then. The band has a loyal following on the college circuit but Allison says he and his guys have larger ambitions and they take the music in different directions than some who just want to pick up some dough on the party run. "It really irks me," the congenial 29-year-old songwriter and multi-instrumentalist says. "We're old-school rock 'n' roll … from the highs to the lows. Lots of bands are just into it for the lifestyle and are one-dimensional. We have more styles … (that) remain surprises to audiences and ourselves." Allison quickly composes himself to describe these dimensions that he wants to explore in his live shows such as at Friday's Canal Club gig as well as on an upcoming CD. Not only does he want to deepen the piano-driven rhythm and blues and funk side of his music, but he also hopes the band's fans will accept the singer-songwriter/acoustic guitar part of his persona that sometimes gets pushed aside during the party. Allison has a bag full of new acoustic tunes he wants to share with his fans. "I push myself to be prolific (and) versatile…. What I want to do is both sides of the coin." Allison started out with this versatile musical viewpoint as a youth growing up in South Carolina. He started piano at 6, and he later picked up the electric guitar. During his senior year at a private art school with some "ace kids" he began "digging in deep" to his musical interests and eventually enrolled as a music performance major at the University of Richmond in the early '90s. Here he dissected classical music and learned discipline from some "patient" teachers. He concentrated on vocal music and sang in classical choral groups. "My frat brothers thought I was a big dork, but I always liked to be well rounded," he says with a laugh. By this time, Allison had found the acoustic guitar and part of this rounded approach further took shape when he and friend Brian Clifford hit the bars of Shockoe Bottom performing covers songs. After graduation, Clifford entered the business world but Allison decided to pursue his musical dreams. Playing happy hours and pig roasts, Allison's name got out. He turned a corner in 1995 when he cut his first independent CD. "I was … so pumped up. It's been slowly building since." Now more than five years of hard road work later, Allison is sure his musical time will come. Though he and band mates Chris Vasi, Dan Costanzo, Pat Porter and Greg Dryden have a solid regional fan base, Allison is far from satisfied. His sights are set on gigs nationwide and he believes in a future of major-label support. Toward these ends, Allison sets no deadlines and says he has no interest in pursuing anything but a career in music. "We as a band have something to say. It's all about music to me. I feel the rest will come. Every step … invigorates me. We want to reach for it all."

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