Travis Dolter on the Silver Linings of 2020 & his Recent Single, “Layla 14”

     Travis Dolter just may just be the contemporary answer classic country music fans are looking for- With a sound influenced by traditional country and 50s-60s rock, such as the likes of Buddy Holly- he has a true country sound but says it how it is. With Dolter, you don’t get songs about drinking beer and driving F-150s, you get real-life stories; stories about the simplest things that he creatively brings to life. And that’s part of the charm of Dolter’s music. Of Ukranian descent, he got his start in music playing for his family band, the “Polka Ramblers”. A band that is still around today. In the years since he has pursued his solo career in country music and is making a name for himself in the local Alberta scene. 

      In early January he released his latest single, “Layla 14”. As Dolter mentioned, The song is inspired by a photo (The photo was also used for the single cover art) taken during a trip to Nashville in 2019, where he visited Layla’s Honky Tonk. “I saw the “Layla 14” license plate as soon as I walked in, right down the centre aisle of the bar- it was hung up in the rafters.” The song tells the story of coming and going, but leaving your mark behind. In this case, that mark is old license plates hanging in a Nashville bar. But behind each license plate, there is a story- the story of the family, couple or individual who left them behind. The story of their travels and how they all lead them to Layla’s bar. As Dolter continued, “All the lyrics were derived from this single photo” (Dolter), which demonstrates his lyrical creativity. The song also has an upbeat guitar presence and instrumental accompaniment, which really brings the whole song together.

     Dolter also recently released the official lyric video for the song, which takes viewers inside the bar that inspired it all. The bar itself is a honky-tonk that gives off small-town vibes, despite it being located in the heart of Nashville. This is synonymous with the tight-knit community of the Nashville country music scene, and thus adds another level of meaning to the song.

  When it comes to songwriting, Dolter prefers to write from personal experience as it provided authenticity to the music. As Dolter explained, “I start with a guitar lick and sing over it. (…) I usually chalk out my best songs in about 30min. If they drag on, they tend to not be my best work: (Dolter). This is also how he wrote his single he’s set to record this year, “Senior Year”; a song that speaks about figuring out what to do after graduating from university. This is something that many post-grads can relate to as they start the new chapter of their lives.

     Looking back, 2020 proved to be a difficult year for many artists under the new covid-19 restrictions and with the absence of many live gigs and touring opportunities. Dolter lost several opportunities to play live, and missed the in-person connection he’d normally have with his fans, as well as seeing fellow artists at the Country Music Alberta Awards and Canadian Country Music Awards. Despite all this, he was able to remain positive throughout the year and focus on the silver linings. As Dolter explained, “I lost a lot of opportunities, but I gained opportunities too.” One of those experiences he gained ended up being one of his favourite performances of all time. “My favourite gig of all-time, which also took place in the pandemic, was a drive-in concert in Camrose, AB which was held in support of the Camrose Food Bank. Over 114 cars were in attendance, at 5$ per car. We raised approx 1.6K for the food drive. Sponsors of the event were from around Camrose, and Allstar Show Industries gave me a discount on the stage for the event. It was a big success. Something that was once in a lifetime, that I’ll probably never experience again” (Dolter).

    Dolter also kept the joy alive during the holiday season last year with his IGTV series, “12 Days of Christmas Guessing”. The series included 12 videos that acted as a “country music countdown” to Christmas day. Each video featured a festive set, which his parents helped set up and film for him. And in each one, Dolter is seen wearing one of his “famous Christmas sweaters”, which was a highlight for him. He would also play a classic country or holiday tune, with some being “obscure” songs he learnt from his parents (Dolter) Then, his fans would have to guess in the comments the title of the songs he played.  

Moving forward in 2021, Dolter looks forward to writing more music and connecting with his fans.


Stream Layla 14 Now:

To learn more about Dolter and his music, check out his socials and website below:





Works Cited

Dolter, Travis. Interview. Conducted by Kyla Pearson. Dec 22 2020.

Unknown. “Canadian country artist Travis Dolter”. Photo courtesy of Travis Dolter. Accessed Dec 22 2020.

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