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Meet “The People’s Band:” The Experience Band and Show

The DMV Music Alliance’s upcoming DMV Music Benefits All Showcase & Fundraiser is featuring one of DC’s most explosive and exciting new bands: The Experience Band & Show. The funk, pop, R&B, Go-go, and rock band will be performing, bringing their positivity and joy to the DMV. Despite being made up of seven members, The Experience Band and Show really made up of two things: incredible performance quality and a mission to bring joy. Contributing writer, Margaret Adams, spoke with the band’s leader, Travisty TromboneKing, about the band’s origins, mission, and music. 

The Experience Band & Show performing on the streets of DC
The Experience Band / Photo Courtesy of The Experience Band

Travis Gardner, otherwise known as the TromboneKing, has always been a musician. Gardner’s father was a musician, so he felt as though music ran through his DNA. He started playing music at four years old, playing at his local church and in high school. Mentored by famed trombone player, Norvus “Butch” Miller, Gardner learned the community-building ways of music. 

The band itself started with just three members in 2017 by busking at the metro stations around DC; excellent performance of The Experience Band and Show. The sound of trombone, bass, and drums filled metro stations like Gallery Place with feel-good R&B and funk. Between the three of them, they started out with $13 to put towards the band. This eventually turned into the Experience Band and Show. Gardner explained that finding the band’s original sound was easy; members would cover songs they knew, or riff off of each other. 

“From the streets, it was kinda like, ‘Okay, what songs you know?” or I teach him a bass line and vibe off of that,” Gardner said. “That’s really what got our sound to e what it became.” 

As more members joined, the wider their range became: 

“When we first started Go-Go wasn’t in our repertoire,” he said. “We realized we were only catering to a certain fanbase, like we can actually see more people if we incorporate more sounds, more genres into our music and style.” 

The band had an incredibly authentic and challenging beginning busking at metro stations, but their ability to succeed outside of concert venues and bars helped form their attitudes towards performing now. 

“If you’re really trying to be an artist, the best way to find out if you really want to do it is to go outside,” said Gardner. “The reason I say that is because the people outside didn’t come to hear you… If you can make it in the streets, you can make it just about anywhere and that’s how we look at it.” 

The Experience Band & Show busking on the streets of DC
The Experience Band / Photo Courtesy of The Experience Band

Busking at metro stations also proved to be quite difficult. During this time, Mute DC forced metro stations to cover up power outlets in order to stop street performances. This forced musicians to get battery packs or generators for speakers and their instrument, and completely eliminated a culturally significant part of the DC community. 

“A lot of the great musicians that came from DC started as street performers,” said Gardner. “DC has a street performing background kinda like New Orleans does, where it’s always been there. It’s better to embrace it than cancel it.” 

The Experience Band and Show became a supporter of #DontMuteDC, an organization committed to protecting street music in the DC area. Gardner mentioned how this brought unification and collaborations between musicians in DC. 

“It put a bigger light on the music community in the DMV, and really brought all of us together… ,” said Gardner. “Before the Don’t Mute DC situation happened, you had club performers and you had street performers. They kinda didn’t really mingle. But then all the clubs closed, so everybody had to come outside.” 

The Experience Band and Show performing on stage together.
The Experience Band / Photo Courtesy of The Experience Band

It wasn’t until the summer of 2020 when The Experience Band and Show got their name “The People’s Band;” during the Black Lives Matter protests after the death of George Floyd, the band saw the need for positivity and joy during a time where hope seemed missing. 

“We saw there was a need to go down there and bring joy,” said Gardner. “We didn’t bring any buckets or anything to make money… We see what was going on on TV, and we wanted to try to bring peace.” 

The band’s true vocation is not only to unite people, but to bring light and joy into the communities and audiences they play for. When asked how The Experience Band and Show was able to stand out from the crowd, he answered with a definitive, “Because you got the King!” 

“My music comes from joy, energy,” said Gardner. “It’s like a beautiful painting for me, like that is my kingdom. When I’m on stage, everything goes right in my kingdom.” 

With Gardner as the King and audience in his kingdom, The Experience Band and Show’s performances provide a source of jubilation and happiness, which is desperately needed. 

“When you come to an Experience Band and Show show, you’re going to be a part of the show one way or the other, whether you’re dancing, whether you’re singing the songs, or doing the call and response.” 

The Experience Band & Show poses together for a group photo.
The Experience Band / Photo Courtesy of The Experience Band

More recently, The Experience Band and Show have released their Christmas single, “All I Want For Christmas is You,” available on you favorite streaming platform. Their music will also be featured in a local film, “Maude,” where Gardner himself composed the score. 

The Experience Band and Show is about pursuing change through joy and positivity, but Gardner wants audiences to know that change can only occurs when someone starts it, and starts with accountability. 

“To be the change in your community, it starts with you,” said Gardner. “Putting positivity back in your community first starts with you.” 

Make sure to see them at the DMV Music Benefits All Showcase & Fundraiser, and stay after for their Q&A. Stay updated on new releases and performances through their website and social media

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Join The Experience Band & Show at DMV Music Benefits All at Songbyrd on Dec 8
Margaret Adams, Contributing Writer at Alchemical Records

Margaret Adams

Margaret Adams is a Psychology major and Rhetoric and Writing minor at The Catholic University of America from New Orleans, Louisiana. In addition to her work with Alchemical, she writes for CUA’s student newspaper, The Tower, and has recently been named Quill Editor. She enjoys reading, writing, and looking at pictures of her dog, Bella.

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