Travers Chandler and the Lonesome Truck Driver

Bluegrass music’s own truck-driving man, Travers Chandler, is working on a new album of recordings and shared a video teaser to whet the appetite.  

Having worked in the trucking business all his working life Chandler is ideally placed to speak up for those he describes as a “knight of the road.”

Chandler expands on that, explaining some of the background to his new project …..  

“After 20 years in bluegrass I’ve been told by some that in order to break through I need a gimmick, a shtick. I don’t look at the trucking angle in that dim view, but rather something to embrace as part of who I am, and what makes my music a part of me.

 For a good while in the 1960s and into the 1970s, truckers and songs about their lives were a fabric of our culture, a reminder of America’s life on the go. In my experience lately, truckers don’t receive the respect or courtesy we once enjoyed. As someone with a somewhat public bully pulpit, I can use that for good in two ways. Raise awareness of trucking and our issues to the bluegrass public, and raise awareness and interest of bluegrass in an entirely untapped music market; the American truck driver. It’s a no brainer to me, someone who has tried to carry traditional bluegrass to a wider and less restrictive audience.”

His forthcoming CD, Truck Stops and Honky Tonks, is his first concept album as he weds traditional roots music with “making bluegrass fans more aware of the American trucker.” He adds re-assuringly, that while “I’m in a slightly different direction than I’ve ever been musically” he is “still in that old sound.”

Every song that he sings is indicative of his particular life perspective; that is certainly so with the aptly titled Lonesome Truck Driver, a song recorded by Charlie Moore and Bill Napier for King Records in April 1964. 

While there is still much to do before the album is ready for release, and there may be some label interest, Chandler offered this preview.

“There’s a mix of old and new songs in the album. New bluegrass songs by Rick Pardue, Shannon Slaughter, and Roy McMillan and Ray Edwards. Plus a new song from Jeff Michael. Also, I wanted to branch out a bit. We do that with country tinged songs like Darrell McCall’s Eleven Roses, and a Tex-Mex flavor from one of my unsung heroes Doug Sahm with Who were you thinking of (when we were making love)?, a song he finally charted with his band the Texas Tornadoes. I also tipped my hat to Carl Belew with Happy Harry’s Honky Tonk. I selected four Charlie Moore songs including Lonesome Truck Driver, Wheeling, and Long White Line – the two trucking songs will be released as singles with Rick Pardue’s Bill and Bessie released to bluegrass radio. That song made me want to make my return to bluegrass. It’s a bit controversial. Rick wrote it about the affair between a traveling preacher and his choir director. However, the title gives it away.”

As well as members of Avery County, Chandler has a number of friends appearing on the record.

“The band features my road group, including Adam Poindexter on banjo. Jeff Huffman and I share guitar duties, and Jeff guests on bass on some of the shuffle tunes. Many of my friends are going to be featured, including Amber Digby and Randy Lindley, Paul Winstead from the Malpass Brothers on percussion, Dave Adkins on a duet with me, DJ McClellan, Jeff Dillard on bass, and the North Carolina legend Clyde Mattocks on pedal steel. I was super excited to have former band member, Matt Levine, guest on dobro and banjo on a couple tracks. 

I still have a few surprises in store and hopefully have a release date in late summer.”

Travers Chandler continues to be a keeper of the traditional flame of roots music. 

The appetite is suitably whetted. 

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About the Author

Richard Thompson

Richard F. Thompson is a long-standing free-lance writer specialising in bluegrass music topics. A two-time Editor of British Bluegrass News, he has been seriously interested in bluegrass music since about 1970. As well as contributing to that magazine, he has, in the past 30 plus years, had articles published by Country Music World, International Country Music News, Country Music People, Bluegrass Unlimited, MoonShiner (the Japanese bluegrass music journal) and Bluegrass Europe. He wrote the annotated series I'm On My Way Back To Old Kentucky, a daily memorial to Bill Monroe that culminated with an acknowledgement of what would have been his 100th birthday, on September 13, 2011.