Five years in, Travers Brothership finds a way to survive (and thrive)
Two-night show at Pisgah Brewing Co. to mark milestone for local band
As kids growing up in Black Mountain, twin brothers Eric and Kyle Travers dreamed of becoming professional musicians. In 2012 they teamed up with fellow musicians and childhood friends - Josh Clark and Ian McIsaac - and a trio of horn players to craft a unique sound.
The Travers Brothership, the musical brainchild of the Eric and Kyle, was born.
On Thursday, June 29 and Friday, June 30 in what's being billed as a “hometown throwdown” at Pisgah Brewing Co., the band will celebrate five years of making it in the music business.
“You don’t see a lot of bands make it this far,” Kyle said. “In fact, over five years you see a lot of bands kind of fall apart or dissolve. There’s like a graveyard of bands around us that haven’t made it.”
Getting here hasn't been easy, but the Travers Brothership has become a well-known name in the regional music scene since playing its first show in 2012 at the now-defunct TallGary’s Cantina in Asheville.
The group began touring in 2013 after releasing the "I Don't Mind EP" and continued making music and touring in 2014. It opened for Blues Traveler at the Orange Peel in Asheville that October. By the end of 2015, the Brothership had earned an invitation to perform at the 40th annual LEAF Festival and played a set in the Christmas Jam by Day, presented by Warren Haynes.
"I'll never forget the first time I was driving to the grocery store, listening to WNCW (a FM station in Spindale) and I heard our record," Kyle said. "I've listened to that radio station my whole life growing up here, and I had no idea they were going to play it. That's was cool."
In 2016 the band released its first full-length album "A Way to Survive" and earned first place in the annual Mountain XPress "Best of WNC" poll. In February 2017, the Travers Brothership won the seventh annual Last Band Standing at the Lincoln Theatre in Raleigh before playing at the Red Hat Amphitheater with Ben Folds in May.
However, much of the band's growth is behind the scenes.
"The thing that I'm most proud of during the last five years is our music and our capacity for writing it now," Kyle said. "We've all become better songwriters and composers during our time together. We've matured so much in that regard."
But Kyle was shocked when "legendary musician" Ike Stubblefield asked the band to be his back-up band this year for his show at New Mountain AVL in May, Kyle said.
"That was such a huge honor," he said. "He's played with Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Eric Clapton, Frank Zappa, tons of huge names. He chose us to back him up."
Stubblefield came to Pisgah Brewing Co. the following night for the Sunday Travers Jam, which was hosted by the the brothers weekly for several months.
Currently the band is working on a new album, but the Brothership Horns (Dean Mitchell on saxophone, Kyle Snuffer on trombone and Alex Bradley on trumpet) won't be on it. The horn players have performed and recorded as part of the Travers Brothership for much of the band's five-year history.
"They're not indefinitely gone," Kyle said. "They still get together and play sometimes as the Brothership Horns. But for this record we're writing right now we won't feature the horns."
Working as a four-piece band gives the Brothership a chance to get back to its roots, when the Travers brothers would play with McIsaac and Clark in a garage and dream of the days they would play stages like the one at Pisgah Brewing.
"We owe a lot of our success to Pisgah," Kyle said. "We have a longstanding relationship, and we've had some incredible music experiences there. One of the reasons I wanted to have our anniversary show there is because we grew up right here in the Valley and it's one of the places where we've worked our way up to being a successful regional act."
Get on board
Who: Travers Brothership
When: 9 p.m. June 29-30
Where: Pisgah Brewing Co.
Cost: $10 advance, $12 door, $15 two-day pass