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Hanford, California, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2014 | SELF

Hanford, California, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2014
Band Blues Rock




"Saltwater Thinks outside the box for cd release party"

There are hundreds of old-fashioned blues and rock & roll groups across the country. If you really want to stand out, then you better be prepared to think outside of the box.

On the other hand, one local band is doing so by having their sound produced from within one -- a cigar box, specifically.

“It’s completely another thing seeing the blues played by a guy with a box,” Travis Brooks, lead vocals and guitar player for Saltwater said. “It definitely is a mind-trip to the eye. People think, ‘I’m gonna stick around to check this out.’”

He and the rest of the Saltwater crew bring that mind-trip at 8 p.m. Saturday to the Cellar Door in Visalia for a CD release party of their debut album “Black Water flow." According to Brooks, the production of the album was whirlwind experience culminating in six days of recording straight — all spurred from a inebriated conversation in which one of the band members suggested they contact the same record producer that produced the album of Doc’s Holiday, another blues band that remains a favorite on the local music scene.

“Basically, Saltwater is a culmination of a couple different bands,” Brooks said.

Three-fourths of the band, composed of Travis Brooks on lead vocals and guitar, Wess Hardin on guitar, Mario Teixeira on bass, and Chris Step on drums, all came from Doc’s Holiday and Motel Drive. “We were all kind of free at the same time. It honestly felt like fate, even though I’ll never admit it. I’m just not that kind of guy,” Brooks said.

Brooks has been making his cigar box guitars since January of 2015, and although the band assembled rather hastily in February of the same year, they are no less confident in the sound they produce.

“You wouldn’t believe how much it sounds like a Gibson,” Brooks said of the guitar he hand-crafted for guitarist Wess Hardin.

His custom hand-built cigar box guitars can be found at Enjoy the Store in Visalia, and R.A.W. (Reclaimed Antique Woodworking) in Morro Bay.

Through extensive re-wiring and hand soldering, the cigar box guitars Brooks crafts produce a sound that keenly ignores the current standards heard through digital production, in order to rather emit a more authentic 1950s sound. “It’s a lot of really heavy blues riffs, but not in a traditional sense,” he said of the Saltwater sound. “The cigar box guitar plays in an open G, and it has a very pentatonic feel.”

His intention isn’t to compete with other blues veterans, but rather provide something new. Although, in terms of content, the genre of blues practically defines itself.

“You can’t have blues without heartache, or a guy messing with your woman,” Brooks said. But even so, he doesn’t omit a winking eye to his lyrics.

“Some of the songs are dark, but they have a cool comedic aspect to them,” he said. “We want to keep it fun. We don’t take ourselves seriously, just our music.”

Guest starring for the CD release part is local favorite Ryan Dean & the Bricktops, a blues rock and soul group out of Hanford that is currently going through an evolution of its own as it undergoes production of a new album.

“Those are another set of dudes that are trying to change the genre,” Brooks said. “We want to be that bridge between blues and rock and roll. We want to make something for everyone to relate to.”

With elements of jazz, the Saltwater brand of sound isn’t merely blues, or rock, or country, but simply “Saltwater,” Brooks said.

As it turns out, the line between musical genres isn’t paper thin. In actuality, it’s composed of cardboard. - Visalia Times Delta


Still working on that hot first release.



Raised amid the farmlands of California’s Central Valley, these salty boys are certifiably organic, through and through—and boy howdy can they get down and dirty! Carrying a deep bag of tricks from their eclectic musical backgrounds, from bluegrass to rockabilly, from jam bands to shoegazing, Saltwater produces a sound that’s solidly their own. Mario and Chris, the unshakeable rhythm section, hold the camp in place. Travis sets the tone with gritty vocals and cigar box guitars he’s built with his own hands, allowing Wess to layer in soulful, atmospheric, and screaming leads. You cannot deny this salty vibe. Come on out and take a shot of Saltwater. You won’t regret it!

Band Members