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Muhlenberg Son Strums His Way Around Music City

Travis DukesNashville musician and Muhlenberg native Travis Dukes. (Photo courtesy Travis Dukes)
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (3/5/14) — Like many teenagers fresh out of high school, Travis Dukes thought he had his life pretty well planned.

A native of Bremen, Dukes graduated from Muhlenberg North High School and went on to earn a degree in Exceptional Education at Western Kentucky University.

While in college, Dukes worked as a singer/musician in several Bowling Green establishments.

After college, he moved to Nashville and taught full time for three years while playing the guitar and singing in various venues around Nashville.

But then, he says, he decided he had to take the big step into becoming a full time musician.

Dukes, without a doubt, is multi-talented. He is now working as a professional singer, songwriter and producer.  

Dukes said he developed his deep love of music as a child while attending church at Neals Chapel General Baptist Church in Bremen with his parents.

"I love playing stuff like Tom Petty, Bill Withers, a lot of 90s rock, Matchbox 20, Nirvana . . . I'm a fan of all types of music. I really just try to open my ears up to any type of music." — Travis Dukes

"I grew up in church, loved singing there, and was the choir director when I was 16," Dukes said.

Dukes played the saxophone in the band at Muhlenberg North High School, and then learned guitar while attending college in Bowling Green.
   
"In college I really got into music," he said. "After a couple of years of practicing guitar on my own, I started to play out in clubs and other venues. I guess that's how the thought of becoming a full time musician started."

But Dukes admits, giving up his aspirations to teach full time was not an easy decision.

"It really was a hard decision to make," he said. "I loved working with the students, to see their progress, and working with them on real world problems. Helping them to learn job skills. Plus, it was a very secure position."

But he said he knew that if he was going to make it as a professional musician, he would have to make music his top priority.   

"My first paid gig was in college at a Chinese restaurant called The Happy Inn," Dukes said. "They paid me, and I filled up the place that day. Everyone who came out enjoyed it."

Dukes learned early on that the secret to keeping a steady schedule of paid performances is to please the venue owner while also pleasing the audience.

"It's been a lot of hard work, pleasing club owners or whomever," Dukes said. "But they are going to be pleased if their sales are up, and if people are complimentary of the environment I create. Of course, there have been times when it didn't work out, but for the most part, I've gotten a very positive response to my music, and my original songs as well . . . persistence is the key to success in the music business. And, I feel I have that drive."

A Travis Dukes show includes everything on the musical map — older R&B, classic country hits, contemporary songs and everything in between.

Dukes is constantly expanding the number of venues eager to have him perform, both as a solo act and with his band, the T-Bones.

"We perform consistently in Nashville, as well as Clarksville, Evansville, few times in Chicago, pretty regularly in Bowling Green, Owensboro, and there is talk of going down to Alabama and Florida during Memorial Day weekend. The key is just to get out there and play, and make more connections," he said.

As far as combining his songwriting talents with his growing popularity as a performer, Dukes says he would love to combine the two.

"It would be perfect to do both," he said. "I love to go out and perform my songs. But if I do have a big name entertainer interested in recording one of my songs, I definitely will not turn it down."

Dukes produced several albums including “Black and White: The Killer”, “The Travis Dukes Comedy Hour” and a new EP, “dukesTunes EP”.

Upcoming appearances include Bailey's in Nashville this Saturday night and March 15, 17; Tennessee Brew Works in Nashville March 28; Dublins in Bowling Green March 29; and The Backstage Bar & Grill in Evansville April 5.

To find out more about Travis Dukes, visit his website TravisDukes.com, or get out there and listen to his music for yourself.

(Dukes was featured Friday, Feb. 28 on WTVW Channel 7's Lifestyles with Laura Kirtley.)

Paul McRee
SurfKY News Reporter

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