It’s a quiet confidence, an air of authority limited to only the most studied artists, a commanding irreverence woven with a thread of vulnerability. There’s something inexplicably authentic about Oklahoma’s Travis Linville, and it’s carried him from dive bars and classrooms to “The Tonight Show” and esteemed theaters and festivals across the globe.
Linville is legendary regionally for his work in the now-defunct Burtschi Brothers and for his behind-the-scenes influence—including producing John Fullbright’s first album and teaching guitar lessons to a then nine-year-old Parker Millsap. The “Oklahoma Gazette” rightly called him a “godfather of modern Oklahoma folk” and noted that his success opened doors for a state teeming with talent: a mentor and contemporary for other Oklahoma acts like Fullbright, Millsap, Turnpike Troubadours and John Moreland.
His acclaimed solo releases include 2012’s “Sun or Moon” and 2014’s “Out on the Wire” EP, called “rich, soulful and beautiful” by Jimmy LaFave. A live audition of a track from the latter even netted him a role in a William H. Macy film, in which he performed the song.
A gifted instrumentalist, Linville is also known for his work as a sideman with Texas songwriter Hayes Carll, who calls him “criminally underrated.” He’s also performed with Willie Nelson, Tommy Allsup and Ryan Bingham and shared billing with Merle Haggard, Other Lives and Billy Joe Shaver, among countless others.
Independently, Linville has sold 15,000 albums and played thousands of shows across his 20-plus year career, with an ever-evolving repertoire deeply rooted in songcraft, sly humor and subtlety.
“Travis Linville writes, plays and sings music the way it’s supposed to be done,” Carll says. “With depth, heart and soul. One of my all-time favorite musicians.”
Alyssa and Doug Graham have spent nearly their entire lives exploring music together. Friends since she was 7 and he was 9, they became a couple in their teens, then husband and wife. Somewhere along the way, they also became The Grahams, a dynamic Americana duo who’ve married their love of adventure with a desire to build on foundations laid by their musical predecessors. Their first song-crafting expedition, along the Mississippi’s Great River Road, became their 2013 debut, Riverman’s Daughter. For its follow-up, they rode the rails – and wound up recording not only a studio album, but a documentary and live album on the move and in venues from Sun Studio to Amtrak’s famed City of New Orleans train.
Their new long-player, the explosive and aptly named Glory Bound, was helmed by Grammy nominated producer Wes Sharon (John Fullbright, Parker Millsap) at his 115 Recording studio in Norman, Okla. Recording in Oklahoma holds special significance for a couple raised as Dylan-loving New York City suburban kids who spent weekends strumming campfire songs in the Adirondacks. Like many Dylan fans, they traced their way back to his greatest inspiration.
“After we recorded Riverman’s Daughter, we were listening to a lot of Woody Guthrie,” Alyssa explains. “The song ‘Farmer Labor Train’ kept sticking in our minds, so we wanted to write a song about trains. We wrote ‘Glory Bound,’ then decided that we really wanted to ride the trains in honor of Guthrie, Lead Belly and other old folk legends who used the train system to bring voices together. We had to go to Oklahoma, obviously, because Woody was our mentor or guide”
Adds Doug, “The river was the original way that people got around and moved through the country. And moved music around the country. The rivers are the veins. And now, here we are on trains, the next means of motion the arteries of America that brought people and music and cultures together. So that had to be the next progression for us.”