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Friendship bears fruit for Travis Tritt: Singer to share State Fair stage with mentor

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When Travis Tritt.;released.;his 1989 debut single,.;"Country Club,".;he quickly earned the respect of.;one of Nash ;ville's most influential country club members.

"Charlie Daniels was the first person to sort of.;take me under his wing when I came into this business 15 years ago,".;said Tritt, who will perform with Daniels at the Illinois State Fair in Springfield tonight. "Charlie hired me sight unseen to open shows for him when all I had out was that first single.

"We've.;written songs together and been tremendous friends ever since."

Tritt's friendships have also born fruit in his latest album, which includes songs written with or performed with several country music greats.

Tritt's.;ninth studio album, "My Honky-Tonk History," was released Tuesday..;Tritt co-produced the 12-song project.;with Billy Joe Walker Jr. and co-wrote the song.;"We've Had It All" with.;friend and country singer Marty Stuart.

The album also includes a.;duet with John Mellencamp, "What Say You," and Gretchen Wilson's.;background vocals and co-writing talents on "Gone Too Far to Turn Around."

"I had a lot of really good help on this album," Tritt said. "It has some beautiful ballads and straight-ahead country songs. But for the most part, I.;think it's the most up tempo, summertime, feel-good album.;I've done in my career."

Tritt was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry in 1992 and has topped the charts with such No. 1 hits as "Help Me Hold On," "Anymore," "Can I Trust You With My Heart," "Foolish Pride" and "Best of Intentions."

"I love a great lyric that tells a story or makes you feel like the singer has been reading your mail," said the Georgia-born singer, songwriter and guitarist. "I'll divulge things in my songs about my personal life that I'll never talk about in interviews."

The first single from "My Honky-Tonk History" is the steadily climbing hit, "The Girl's Gone Wild."

"That song.;makes me want to get in my vehicle, roll the windows down, turn up the speaker volume.;to 10 and drive a little faster than I should," Tritt said.

"It draws a good, strong picture of being out on the beach and seeing girls - ages 16 to 60 and older - having fun with all their other girlfriends and how much fun it is.;watching them have a good time."

On the big screen, Tritt landed an acting role in the.;upcoming Tim Sullivan horror film "2001 Maniacs."

"I play this evil gas station attendant.;who goes around warning all these teenagers about the impending doom they're about to get into,".;said Tritt, whose prior film credits include "Outlaw Justice," "Blues Brothers 2000" and "The Cowboy Way."

"When you hear actors talking about bad guy roles being the most fun to play, that's absolutely a fact. It saves me a whole lot of money on therapy too. I get all those feelings and emotions out and get by with a whole lot of things I'd never be able to get by with in reality."

If you go

WHO:.;Travis Tritt, with the Charlie Daniels Band.

WHERE:.;Grandstand, Illinois State Fair, Springfield.

WHEN: 8 p.m. today.

TICKETS: $25, $22.50, $20 at 1-800-827-8927.



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