Fans of rising artist Travis Denning know the “After a Few” singer is a straight up guitar slinger — but they probably don’t know how long he’s been that way. Turns out the Georgia native has been rocking since before he was a teenager, but he knew taking his talent to the next level meant using the right tools.
“One day my parents said, ‘Look, we will buy you a guitar … a nicer, more professional kind of guitar,” Denning tells Sounds Like Nashville in part two of an exclusive video series. But the offer came with a catch. Still just a kid, his parents were worried this music thing was only a phase, so they made him a deal.
“We’d like to get you a [Gibson] Les Paul,” Denning’s dad, “Diamond Dave” remembers telling his young son. “To get a Les Paul, though, you’ve gotta learn [Led Zeppelin’s] ‘Stairway to Heaven’ from beginning to end, including the solo.”
Denning says his parents demanded perfection — no missed notes, no faking — and he took that as a vote of confidence. “Stairway to Heaven” is more than twice as long as a typical rock single and notoriously difficult to play, so it took the budding musician four and a half months of diligent practice before he was ready to perform it. Then one day after church, he came downstairs from his room with what his dad describes as an odd look on his face.
“I came down like … ‘Alright, I’m ready. Come upstairs,'” Denning recalls. “But inside I was like ‘I’m about drop this s*** on them so hard, and they’re gonna have to buy me a guitar!'” I’m so fired up.'”
Needless to say, Denning took one of the first steps on his “stairway to country stardom” that day. He soon picked out a brand new (left handed) Les Paul classic — one he still plays to this day — and the rest is history.
Earlier this week Denning and his dad filled Sounds Like Nashville in on their family’s time in Utah, and Denning just released a propulsive new track titled “Heartbeat of a Small Town.” The irresistible romance of his current single, “After a Few,” has cracked country radio’s Top 40, and he’s on the road through the end of the year with Riley Green on the Get That Man a Beer Tour.