We had the good fortune of connecting with Travis Gordon and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Travis, can you tell us more about your background and the role it’s played in shaping who you are today?
I’m originally from a small town in Southeast Kentucky called Middlesboro. The impact of growing up in a small blue collar coal mining town set the tone for me for life. Nothing is accomplished without hard work, family, faith, and perseverance through tough times and that’s what my hometown gave and still gives me. I later went on to live in Lexington and Louisville for most of my adult years. I’m a very proud Kentuckian and love where I’m from, it has defined pretty much everything about me.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I’m a DJ, Producer, and Radio Show guest mixer. I used to own Restaurants and Bars in my home state of Kentucky, one of the bars we had called Devassa would have DJ’s and bands nightly and as with any bar or restaurant it’s hard to pack it out every single night so on the slower nights I started DJing to save us some money. Music has always been a big part of my life, and I was blessed that I had parents that exposed me to all kinds of different genres. So, when I started DJing, I became obsessed with it and wanted to get good and get respect from other DJs in the area. I worked as hard at it as I did owning my restaurants and started to pick up gigs outside my own establishment. My big break is when my good friend Eric Banks from MTV put me on with the owner of 2 major bars/ clubs in South Padre Island, which resulted in getting to DJ Spring Break for huge crowds for 25 straight days. From there, I met two great friends in DJ Silver and DJ Slim McGraw (formerly DJ Dirty). Those guys took me under their wing and taught me about the business side of things, how to carry yourself, along with countless amounts of music and advice and most importantly helping me obtain some bigger gigs that jolted my career. I owe those three gentlemen a lot, to this day if I call their phone they will always pick up no matter how busy they are. Those acts of kindness had a huge impact on me and how I treat other DJs along with the new up and coming ones.
What sets you apart?
I believe the thing that sets me apart in the DJ profession is the musical library that’s in my head, reading a crowd, along with my versatility. At this point almost all DJs can mix 2 songs together, especially with today’s technology, so what sets someone apart from others is how you program the night. The biggest mistake you can make is thinking it’s all about you and the music you enjoy. The people and the establishment come first and your job is to entertain and make people money. Being a former restaurateur I’m very conscious of the bar and making sure they’re making money. I’m not scared to clear the dance floor multiple times to get people to the bar. That mentality I think is what keeps me booked consistently along with the relationships I’ve built over the years. My versatility also plays a big part in getting gigs. I have done everything from major country music festivals in Nashville and Las Vegas, open format gigs in Missouri and Kentucky, to fist pumping ragers in South Padre Island. I never want to do just one genre, my musical taste varies so much so my DJing is a reflection of that.
Was it easy? What were some of the challenges?
Not at all! I think I as every DJ wake up every day and fear that the bookings and phone calls stop coming. Outside of Covid I will say the biggest challenge for me was moving to Houston. I know how hard it is to break into different markets, and I wanted that challenge, but it came at a sacrifice both personally and professionally. As it should be, Houston has a lot of talented DJs, and they have the city locked up, and it was just hard to get anywhere consistently. I was lucky enough to do multiple events for the Houston Texans and Dallas Cowboys which I don’t know many that can claim that combination as well as stay pretty busy every weekend but I was traveling to Dallas and Austin a lot and just for some reason couldn’t get a break in Houston. The experience had me questioning how good I really was but it also cemented what I’ve always known and that’s relationships are everything in this business, without them it doesn’t matter how good you are. It did give me my radio show though which I have thoroughly enjoyed and been a great outlet during Covid. *Shameless Plug (The Party Cove Mixshow on 91.1 The Boss in The Woodlands every Friday and Saturday Night) One of my other challenges was getting out of this box I had been put in. To explain, I signed with my friend Deejay Silver and his booking agency out of Nashville a couple years ago. We are known for party rocking country bars, clubs, and festivals. We took country music and mashed it up to make it real club-friendly and created something different. It honestly is one of the best things that I do, but with that, I got put into a box as a “Country DJ,” and it was as if people forgot the years and years before that when I was spinning multiple genres as open format DJ. So with that, I had to kind of rebrand myself so to speak and let everyone know I’m an open format DJ who can do country gigs at a high level and not the other way around. I’m finally at the point where I think people understand that.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I know Louisville way more than I know Houston so I’ll give you a different spin as if a Houstonian was visiting Louisville for the first time. Day one we’re doing the bourbon trail and showing you some of the beautiful distilleries here in Kentucky, tasting some great bourbon, and learning their rich history. From there we’re going to visit Churchill Downs where the Kentucky Derby is held and hopefully one of the night races that happen during the summer. Louisville has a great culinary scene with some of my favorite place being Barn8, Jeff Ruby’s, Steak N’ Bourbon, Four Pegs, Jack Fry’s, Fork & Barrel, along with The Ainsworth and Le Moo for Brunch. To cure our hangover we’re definitely hitting up my favorite local coffee shop called North Street Lime for coffee and their amazing donuts. For our nightlife entertainment we going to start at my favorite speakeasy called Hell or Highwater, hop over to a great wine bar called Nouvelle, and then right across the street is another favorite called Garage Bar. From there we’re getting a couple $5 Old Fashioned from High Horse, some great craft beers from Ten20, then making our way to three of my favorite places in Louisville and where I spend most of my time called Nowhere Bar, Baxter’s, and the one and only Tin Roof. To end the night we’re going to head back downtown, because I know how much they love us to walk in right before last call, and see some good friends at Taj. If all of that isn’t enough, then we’re going to make our way south to my favorite place on earth and do a weekend at Lake Cumberland in Russell Springs Kentucky.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
The person who has inspired me the most has always been my mother Chidsey Grace. Being a single mother of three boys in a small town in Southeast Kentucky and the things she overcame instilled in me hard work and no excuses. As I got older and wiser I leaned on those experiences and her toughness when things in life got tough for me also. She loved us hard but raised us to be tough, we didn’t have much but she always made sure we had enough.
Other: Please mention my radio show if possible The Party Cove with DJ Travisty featuring Country Mashups and Remixes, Top 40, and Throwbacks all blended together to give you that Party Cove soundtrack. Listen live on KNLY 91.1FM in Houston Texas every Friday from 10-11Pm and Saturday from 9-10PM!! Also available on IHeart or Apple Podcast
Hunter O’dell, Ricardo Capistran, J Marko Washle