The Travers Brothership blasts into orbit

Fred McCormick
Black Mountain News
The Travers Brothership, featuring Eric Travers (left), Josh Clark (center, left), Ian McIsaac (center, right) and Kyle Travers, were named one of the 10 best things seen at FloydFest 2019 by Rolling Stone.

Kyle Travers, one of the twin brothers who comprise the Travers Brothership with their longtime friends, was standing in front of the Town Pump Tavern in his hometown when he clicked a link to a Rolling Stone article. He was a little more than halfway through the July 29 piece, FloydFest 2019: 10 Best Things We Saw, when he spotted his band’s name. 

“I looked at my phone and my jaw dropped,” he said. “I immediately sent the link to the guys in our group text. It was our greatest accomplishment, coverage-wise. It’s been a goal of ours to be in Rolling Stone.”

Kyle and Eric joined forces with Ian McIsaac and Josh Clark when they were students at Owen Middle School and launched their band a short time later. Thirteen years later the Travers Brothership has blasted into orbit. 

The band’s appearance at FloydFest, where they played five shows in as many days, was their second since finishing as runner-up in the festival’s On-the-Rise competition in 2018. The Brothership stood out in a lineup that included Grammy Award-winning artists Kacey Musgraves and Brandi Carlile, as well as other names like The String Cheese Incident, Phil Lesh & The Terrapin Family Band and Leftover Salmon. 

“It was a little bit of a shocker,” Kyle said of learning that his band made the list in the magazine. “But I also think, with all the hard work we’ve put in, we earned it.”

The Brothership left an impression on the approximately 13,000 music fans who attended the annual festival just off the Blue Ridge Parkway in Floyd, Virginia, performing on four of the eight stages. Kyle also played in the Buffalo Mountain Jam.

“That takes place on Saturday evening, and it features a lot of the all-stars in the festival,” Kyle said. “It was a really cool experience because I got to play with a lot of my heroes and idols I watched on the festival circuit growing up, like Keller Williams and Leftover Salmon. I wasn’t nervous at all until I looked up and realized I was the youngest person on stage.”

The members of the Brothership may be young, but they’re already music industry veterans. The Brothership has played more than 400 shows, alongside names like Gov’t Mule, The Marcus King Band, Taj Mahal and Blues Traveler, since forming in 2012. 

“We’ve built so much trust with each other,” he said. “We operate like a well-oiled machine. From the first note to the last, we put everything into every performance.”

FloydFest was just the latest highlight this year for the band, which kicked off 2019 with a 46-day European tour. 

“It was mind-blowing for me to see how many fans we had across the pond,” Kyle said. “I’m really thankful for the internet because YouTube, Spotify, iTunes, Pandora and platforms like that helped us gain fans in places we never dreamed we’d have them.”

The Travers Brothership, which features four Black Mountain natives Kyle Travers (left), his twin brother Eric, (seated left), Ian McIsaac (seated right) and Josh Clark, is flying high after performing five shows in five days at FloydFest.

The Brothership played 36 shows at venues in Spain, France, Germany, Belgium and the Czech Republic, among other countries. The band’s signature high-energy performances were well-received by the European audiences, Kyle said. 

“There were some magical moments during that tour for me,” Kyle said. “I heard people singing along to our songs, and I truly wasn’t expecting that. It was a really cool experience and it exceeded our expectations.”

Within days of returning to the U.S., the band was back on the road. 

“We had about four or five days off and then we were right back at it,” Kyle said. “We don’t stop these days, it’s a constant effort.”

The Brothership toured Colorado following their stint in Europe and notched appearances at the Mountain Music Festival, Long Creek Music Festival, and White Squirrel Festival in Brevard. 

“We also had our first sold out show in New York City,” Kyle said. “We played the Brooklyn Bowl with our buddies, The Marcus King Band, and that was a great experience in an awesome venue.”

Demand for the band is growing, according to Kyle, while their online streaming of their latest album “has exploded.”

“We’ve sold over 1,000 copies directly off our (merchandise) table while touring since we’ve been back to the states,” he said. “We’re thrilled that the album has been so well-received all over the world.”

With the summer drawing to an end, 2019 has already been the biggest year yet for the Brothership. 

“We became nationally and internationally known this year,” Kyle said. “We’re at the point where we’re really seeing all of our hard work pay off.”

The band is entering the pre-production phase for its third full-length album, which is anticipated to be released in early 2020. They will continue with their busy touring schedule for the rest of 2019. 

Making a living as musicians is a “dream come true” for the band, Kyle said. 

“We all attended Owen, even our tour manager (Ryan Lewis, who won a wrestling state championship for the school in 2009-10), so we keep it in the Valley family,” he said. “About 70 percent of my teachers, guidance counselors and even my father were telling me to go to college. I had a couple of scholarship offers to pursue journalism, but I turned them down trying to make a career out of music. There were times we were skeptical, scared, broke, hungry and now all of that is over. It really does feel like a dream.”