A friend of mine summarized Pat Travers best when he said, “Somewhere during the ’80s, ‘Boom Boom’ replaced ‘Louie Louie’ as the party song.” He was speaking of “Boom Boom (Out Go the Lights),” a Little Walter tune from 1955 that Travers reworked from a forgotten R&B hit into an arena-sized rock classic some 20 years later. That same friend owns one of Travers’s old guitars, a flame-red Gibson electric that Travers had retired and sold at auction. Its once-gleaming hide is checkered with scars.
“Looks pretty worked over,” I tell Travers. “Absolutely,” he says. “You know, they don’t play themselves.” He’s on the phone from his home in Florida. “You can see where there’s quite a bit of effort put into it,” he laughs. “It’s kind of fun. Actually, it’s kind of cathartic. It’s a way to get out a lot of stress, to beat the crap out of a really expensive guitar for about 90 minutes.”
Called one of the more influential blues rockers of the ’70s, Pat Travers has the lock on the testosterone-and-big-amps sound, but it’s done with taste and without the ego that accompanies much of big guitar. At the peak of his fame, he told a writer, “If we could set up a Stratocaster and a nice little fuzzy amp in here…you could pull anyone into this office and get them in the right mood, and they could probably make something that would sound reasonable.”
Travers has a new live album out called Stick with What You Know. It’s full of old chestnuts such as “Snortin’ Whiskey” and “Life in London.” He’s excited about an upcoming appearance on Rockline, and he says that he has an album of all-new material ready to be released.
“I love the fact that I’m a pretty good guitar player. I’m lucky to have the aptitude to be able to do it…and the fact that I really just enjoy it, you know?”
PAT TRAVERS, The Jumping Turtle, Monday, February 23, 7:30 p.m. 760-471-7778. $20.