Songwriter Lloyd comes home to his roots with eclectic band

Travis Lloyd Band - from l-r - Cody Tibbets, Travis Lloyd, Russ Lloyd, Emily Newell, John Atwater
Georges Nashan
Travis Lloyd Band - from l-r - Cody Tibbets, Travis Lloyd, Russ Lloyd, Emily Newell, John Atwater
Posted Nov. 19, 2009, at 5:53 p.m.

Band dynamics are often as interesting as the music the band actually makes. Who’s mad at whom on that particular day, who always messes up the chorus, and who always gets hit on, no matter what. It makes things both fun and tricky. When you play in a band with your dad, however, that just turns it all up to 11.

Travis Lloyd knows this well. After a decade of playing in several bands and writing song after song in cities across the country, he has returned to his hometown of Brooks and his musical roots. The Travis Lloyd Band features the son, Travis, and the dad, bass player Russ — as well as Russ’ friend, guitarist John Atwater, the piano-playing Emily Newell, and drummer Cody Tibbetts. The band will play with Darien Brahms at Roots & Tendrils in Belfast this Saturday, starting at 8 p.m.

“Playing in an intergenerational band is tricky. We all have different backgrounds and ways of playing,” said Lloyd. “My dad and John are very opinionated about the things they like, and so am I. We have a hard time taking the backseat sometimes. That’s the challenge to this group. My dad and John love the Dead and The Band and Springsteen. Emily loves Coldplay. It’s an interesting dynamic.”

The younger Lloyd’s gravelly, emotive vocals and thoughtful lyrics bring to mind everyone from Ray LaMontagne to Pete Yorn, with a touch of Paul Westerberg or Elvis Costello for some added grit. His current mode of songwriting came out of years of playing everything from heavy ’90s alternative to pop country, with some folk and blues thrown in for good measure.

He has amassed a lot of experience since forming his first band, Kate’s Dream, while still a high school student. After high school, he moved to Boston, where his teenage obsession with alt-rock morphed into a love for roots music.

“Growing up, I was really into heavy stadium rock, like Smashing Pumpkins and Nirvana. When I moved to Boston, I got a job working for Rounder Records, and all that changed,” said Lloyd, referring to the renowned roots music label. “I really jumped into Americana and bluegrass and folk and blues. It changed my whole outlook.”

Lloyd moved to Portland in 2000, and for three years again played with Kate’s Dream, opting for more melodic garage pop instead of the heavy alternative of his high school years. In 2003, tired of Portland and looking to polish his own skills as a songwriter and performer, he left for Los Angeles and a stint at the Musician’s In-stitute.

“I wanted to sing better. I wanted to be a better solo performer. I didn’t really have any performance tools,” said Lloyd. “The thing about it was, I was in the middle of Hollywood with a bunch of ‘American Idol’ types, and I was this songwriter and guitarist from backwoods Maine. It made me stick out.”

In 2005, Lloyd moved again — this time to Nyack, N.Y., just north of New York City. There, he lived with fellow songwriter friends who were cranking out country songs for the likes of Tim McGraw and Faith Hill.

“They invited me to come and write with them, and send songs to Nashville. Big country artists, they get reams and reams of songs to pick and choose from,” he said. “If someone picks a song up, you’re golden. But that wasn’t really for me, either.”

In 2008, Lloyd moved back to Waldo County, purchased a house in Jackson, and took up a new job building ornamental gardens. He also started doing something he hadn’t done in years: playing music with his dad. Shortly thereafter, the Travis Lloyd Band was born. A full-length album, “Old Damn Rodeo,” arrived this past June. Featuring 12 songs spanning the gamut from the country-influenced title track to the slinky, edgy “Butterfly Kiss,” it’s one of several fantastic albums to emerge from the woods of Waldo County in recent years.

“I’ve played some of the most famous rooms in the country, and they have no pulse whatsoever,” said Lloyd. “I come back here after 10 years, and there are tons of great artists here and a real scene and new venues. I thought I might get to play music once in a while, but I get to do it all the time now. Belfast has changed a lot. There’s a lot of energy here.”

The Travis Lloyd Band and Darien Brahms will play at Roots & Tendrils on Cross Street in Belfast starting at 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 21. Admission is $5. For more information, visit www.myspace.com/travislloydband. “Old Damn Rodeo” can be purchased at The Grasshopper Shops in Bangor and Searsport.

eburnham@bangordailynews.net

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