WARNER ROBINS, Ga. — Like many artists around the country, the COVID-19 pandemic forced Travis Denning off the stage.
"I miss it," he said. "I miss playing music for people. That's what I was born to do, and I can't wait to get back out there."
This year has still been pretty good to Denning though. He released his debut EP 'Beer's Better Cold' and watched his song 'After a Few' climb to the top of country radio and turn Gold (500,000 copies).
"It's been crazy, and honestly I'm so thankful," he said.
He's thankful for his Central Georgia roots that got him there.
"The nights I think about when I write songs, I think about West Lake Road in Twiggs County right by my parents' house where we rode dirt roads," he said.
He started writing songs as a teenager and played anywhere people would listen.
He graduated from Warner Robins High School in 2011, and a few years later, Denning took his talents north to Nashville.
"About five months in I thought, I mean, I know it's not supposed to happen really fast but I need something. I got to keep this fire going," he said.
That's about the time Denning landed a songwriting deal and went on to co-write several hits for major artists, including 'All Out of Beer' recorded by Central Georgia star Jason Aldean.
Denning still had his own dreams of being in the spotlight though.
"Being on the road, and the fun times, and the hard times and all that, that's what I love. I knew songwriting was going to be my car to get me there, but ultimately that was going to be my destination," he said.
Denning eventually signed with a recording label and released his first Top 40 hit, 'David Ashley Parker from Powder Springs.'
In many of his songs, including his latest single 'Goodyears,' you can still hear his appreciation for where it all began.
"Warner Robins is not a small town, but football is king on Friday nights, and I grew up going to the same three restaurants that you'll never find anywhere else in the world, but then it's big enough to have a road to go up to Atlanta or to Macon," he said. "Just that mix of roots and wings is what made growing up in Warner Robins really special for me."