|From Tidewater to Dallas, Dedicated to Gene
Ervin Travis & His Virginians · Big Beat BBR 00077
Ervin Travis was born from Corsican parents in the town of Lyon, France, on September 29th 1962. In the 70s, living in the city of Albi, he discovered rock through Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Buddy Holly, Eddie Cochran, before the supreme revelation of Gene Vincent's voice. Finding the register of his own voice naturally close to his hero's, he founded his first group, "Memories Gene" (1983-1991). In 1998, he is invited by the organizers of the festival "Rockin' Condom" and his contribution included on the CD of the same title, with "Lotta Lovin'' & "Race With The Devil. Later; he shares the bill with Charlie Gracie and Bill Haley's Comets for a concert sponsored by the Rock 'n' Roll society in the city of Bourges. In Oct 2000, Romain Decoret, bass player of "Hotel du Rock" and interviewer for French Guitarist magazine, organizes a tribute concert for Gene Vincent. Guitarist Philippe Fessard suggests the participation of Ervin Travis.
A few days before the event, Ervin walking at night through the countryside near Albi, fell in an ancient and unsignalled 12 foot mine-saft, breaking his foot, a wrist and a vertebra. He got out by himself, then laid on the ground by roadside, unable to walk and was finally found by his wife Alexandra, two hours later. Despite this, he adamantly refused to cancel his participation to the Vincent tribute, appearing in a wheelchair from wich he rose, using the microphone stand as the crutch. Although many spectators thought this was a put-on act, his performance was the best and won the entire audience. It would take Ervin a whole year to get back in shape.
Ervin and his band decided to pursue this unique experience together, dedicating themselves to the repertoire of Gene Vincent. The team took the name of "Virginians" referring to the fact that Gene was born in Norfolk, Virgina. Mid 2001, Ervin Travis & His Virginians invest a Parisian recording studio, where analog technology is still available, to work on an album exploring the lesser know 1957-1958 period of Gene Vincent. The result being this beautiful full length debut CD "From Tidewater to Dallas", which contains 14 Gene Vincent covers and 1 original, written by bassman Romain Decoret, titled "Rock 'n' Roll Heaven".
It's hard to believe that Ervin is French, because it's a fact, I'm sorry to say, French singers have a terrible accent when they perform English language songs. Not Ervin! Amazing how much his voice sounds like Gene's. I've been a Gene Vincent fan and collector for as long as I dare to remember, and I'm really impressed! J.W. Thoury of Jukebox Magazine wrote: "Imitation is the highest form of tribute". Although I tend to disagree, because a poor imitation wouldn't do an artist justice, in this case it's certainly true. The imitation is so close to perfect that you could ask yourself, why not play Gene's orginals then? Well, I leave that up to you, dear reader, but since Gene is not with us anymore, I think seeing and hearing Ervin Travis & The Virginians perform must be the closest thing to experiencing Gene Vincent today. Therefor it pleases me to learn that they are already lined up for the next Hemsby Weekender in May 2003.
The one original song on this album "Rock 'n' Roll Heaven" is, of course, a tribute song to Gene, and it was written and performed completely in the original Gene Vincent & The Blue Caps style and it gracefully changes pace halfway, marvelously illustrating both sides of Gene, meaning his classic way of performing both ballads and rockabilly songs. All of these recordings could only be accomplished with love. More than a work of art, it is a work of heart and soul.
Dickie Harrell (Gene Vincent's drummer) about Ervin Travis' first album:
Ervin Travis & His Virginains are:
Also available this fabulous live album "Shades of blue in Paris", 20 tracks recorded October 14th 2002 at The House of Live in Paris (France).
Big Beat Records:
Reviewed by The BlackCat, 2002