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Pat Travers Band will ring in the new year at Largo Cultural Center

Pat Travers, second from left, and his band are coming to Largo.

Special to the Times

Pat Travers, second from left, and his band are coming to Largo.

LARGO

Pat Travers describes New Year's Eve as a "ridiculously fun holiday.''

That means if you are heading out to the Largo Cultural Center Saturday for his show, be prepared for plenty of revelry, noisemakers and a raucous rendition of Auld Lang Syne.

"But we'll do an instrumental version of Auld Lang Syne because, admit it, nobody can remember all the lyrics,'' said Travers, 57.

He might be known for loud, hard rock classics like Boom Boom (Out Go the Lights) and Snortin' Whiskey, but when he is invited to talk about the holiday season, the rock guitarist gets all schmaltzy.

"I love the Christmas season,'' he said. "In Canada as a kid, it seemed like my dad, an Irishman, and my mom, who was from England, would have us sing Christmas carols in the house every night at Christmastime. That stayed with me. I think my favorite to sing was Good King Wenceslas.''

It was also as a kid in Canada that Travers realized his life's calling. The decision to become a professional guitar player came to him loud and clear in the form of Jimi Hendrix.

"I had already been playing guitar for a couple years but not electric. When I was 13, Jimi Hendrix came to play in Ottawa at this beautiful place, the Capital Theater,'' he said.

Travers remembers feeling like he was in a trance when Hendrix began doing histrionics, falling to his knees and throwing the guitar around. Travers recalls running to the front of the stage, leaning up with his elbows and grabbing Hendrix's guitar band around the musician's neck.

"I was pulling on him and I remember Jimi said, 'Hey, take it easy.' Someone out of the (backstage) pretty much came out and socked me, and while the melee was occurring I snapped out of the trance and said to myself, 'What the heck am I doing?' ''

Travers believes that moment, albeit chaotic, was life-changing. "I really think I got some of Jimi's mojo that night.''

Travers, who now lives in Orlando, first moved to Florida more than 30 years ago. But this is the first visit to the Largo Cultural Center. Along with songs from his classic albums like Black Pearl and Crash and Burn, he'll perform songs from his 2010 bluesy album, Fidelis.

"We've got a lot of material we want to play,'' he said. "We just are going to play everything we know and really ring in 2012 with a lot of heartfelt enthusiasm for the upcoming year,'' he said.

Travers will bring his band, which includes singer/guitarist Kirk McKim, bass player Rodney O'Quinn and drummer Sandy Gennaro.

"Sandy goes back to my Polydor Record days. We parted ways for quite a while. He played with Cyndi Lauper and Joan Jett while we were split up, but last year, I needed a new drummer. He was the one call I wanted to make, and now, we are tight and strong.''

Rob Mondora, the artistic director of the LCC, also added two more Tampa Bay area guitarists to the bill. They include Jimmy Griswold, who has gained a following after opening for the likes of Johnny Winter and Robert Cray, and Sean Chambers, who gained his experience while working with Hubert Sumlin, a blues guitarist who died Dec. 4 in New Jersey.

"I think having these three are a perfect fit to make an unforgettable party atmosphere for New Year's Eve,'' said Mondora.

Chambers, who lives in Dade City, agreed. "I grew up listening to Pat Travers, and these days he's getting even more into the blues. Man, it's going to be a true New Year's Eve guitar fiesta.''

Piper Castillo can be reached at pcastillo@tampabay.com.

If you go

Ring in the new year with the Pat Travers Band at Largo Cultural Center beginning at 8 p.m. Saturday. Special guests include Sean Chambers and Jimmy Griswold. Tickets cost $35 in advance; $40 the day of show. For more information, call (727) 587-6751.

Pat Travers Band will ring in the new year at Largo Cultural Center 12/27/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 27, 2011 2:05pm]

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