Travis Ehrenstrom

Travis Ehrenstrom


Travis Ehrenstrom is the singer-songwriter for the 21st century music lover. While keeping an acoustic base, Ehrenstrom incorporates a wide range of influences that shade his songs with unique textures. At the same time, Ehrenstrom captures the lyrics that stir the deepest universal human emotions.


Like many teenage kids, singer-songwriter Travis Ehrenstrom was singularly focused on sports as a career when he was in middle school.

“I was a huge Blazers fan and (San Francisco) 49ers fan, and I played football, baseball and basketball until my freshman year,” the 18-year-old Sisters native said last week.

“I was really bent on being a professional baseball player.”

Only one problem: By the time he reached ninth grade at Sisters High School, Ehrenstrom realized he “didn’t like the competitive edge” of high school sports.

Competitive edge is one of those things you probably need to have to play in the major leagues.

“Yeah,” he said, “I quickly realized that wasn’t a possibility.”
This realization was the first wind of a perfect storm brewing in his life — one that would lead him to pursue music as a career.

At about the same time, Ehrenstrom’s big brother Matt, then a student at Oregon Institute of Technology in Klamath Falls, passed along his expanding musical taste to Travis. Matt was getting into roots-rock-oriented acts such as the Dave Matthews Band, Counting Crows, Bob Dylan, Steve Earle and Jackson Browne, which just happened to overlap with the music the boys heard their father playing when they were growing up.

“(Matt) started listening to a lot of different types of music,” Travis said. “That’s when I started getting into it.”

Though he had been playing guitar since seventh grade, Ehrenstrom got serious about it during his freshman year. (“I wasn’t playing sports, so I had a lot of free time,” he says.) And then came the third wind of that perfect storm: Sisters High School’s Americana Project program, which teaches students the history of American roots music as well as how to play and write their own songs.

The program has been up and running in Sisters since 2000, and it’s the brainchild of local singer-songwriter Brad Tisdel, who also books bands for the Sisters Folk Festival. When Ehrenstrom entered high school, Tisdel was still heavily involved in the day-to-day operations of the class, which meets daily for 70 minutes.

Ehrenstrom gives Tisdel a lot of credit for his development as a musician.

“Brad was really kind of the creative force behind my songwriting, for sure,” he said. “He’d come into class like three times a week and oversee things, more so in the past because he has a little boy now. But back then he’d come in often and just listen to the songs the kids were coming up with and help out with writing.”

The class gave Ehrenstrom the fundamentals to grow into the songwriter he is today, and it gave him the chance to practice. It gave him a mentor to help him during times of writer’s block.

But most of all, Ehrenstrom says, it gave him time. Time to let the music come out.

There’s undoubtedly natural ability inside the most successful musicians — an innate talent for stringing chords together or humming a pretty melody. But Ehrenstrom’s take on songwriting is more egalitarian than that.

“The one thing I remember when I first went to write a song is not really knowing how to, I guess, and I still kind of feel that way today,” he said. “I think there’s some element of songwriting that the songwriter doesn’t control, and it’s really just the ability to focus on what you’re feeling and being able to express that.

“I think that everyone has that, and it’s just being able to tap into it,” he continued. “I wouldn’t say that I really learned how to do that in the class, but it was really about having the class time to focus on it.”

By the end of his freshman year of high school, Ehrenstrom had enough songs to record an album, he says. But it wasn’t until last July — after he’d graduated from Sisters High and with financial support from his dad and brother — that he took a band down to Ridgetop Sound studio near Santa Cruz, Calif., to record the songs that would become Ehrenstrom’s new album, “Somewhere In Between.”

He chose Ridgetop on the recommendation of Sisters-based artist Dennis McGregor, and the seven-day recording session was a who’s-who of Sisters musicians. Sisters High grads Benji Nagel and Justin Veloso played guitar and drums, respectively. Current student Seth Rodriguez played sax. Patrick Pearsall played bass, and Brent Alan produced the album.

The result is a warm, rootsy set of songs that recalls both old-school pop songwriters like Browne as well as current alt-country star Ryan Adams. (To hear some songs, check out or

“Benji and I came up with the term ‘eclectic folk-rock,’” Ehrenstrom said. “I think I draw on so many influences that … I wouldn’t be able to give it a label other than that.”

These days, Ehrenstrom is living in Portland and majoring in history at Portland State University. He likes the same thing about history as he does about writing songs.

“I think the reason I have a passion for history is it’s just stories,” he says. “I just love stor



Written By: Travis Ehrenstrom

As a boy he knew nothing of his fate
He’d run around and catch grasshoppers
Chase them by the lake
But one day when he was old
Somebody told him so
“David you were meant for the throne”

Throwing rocks at giants, commanding the brave
Settle down and have a son
Name him Absalom
When day he’ll make you cry
For he is bound to die
Just like everything that’s born is soon to pass

He sang his songs for kings
But you could only see
The beauty that lies beneath his wings
A family with wicked ties
A kingdom bound to fall
Poor David don’t you cry in your sleep

His country grew weary and blamed it upon him
What once was good was torn apart
And could never be the same
Absalom took arms
Against his father’s blood
But David, hung him from a tree

Even though you’re gone I remember you somehow
When I was young I read your story
In a book of fairy tales
Even though you were great
They laid you down to rest
David, what’s it like to be dead?

This Ship is Sinking

Written By: Travis Ehrenstrom

The Captain cries this ship is sinking
The crew has all gone to bed
For in the time of darkest reason
They are better left dead
And the captain cries this ship is sinking
He knows, he’s been there before
For now forever comes to an end
And there sons never to be born

The pilot sips his dry martini
And waves goodbye to the frozen air
For when they reach the cold, cold ground
He doesn’t wanna feel a thing
And the pilot sips his dry martini
Lets them know they’re going to be all right
His assurance lies in trembling words
That he wrote down on a pad last night

The cab driver sings songs of sorrow
And loneliness fills his heart
Smack dab in the median
Crumpled by another car
The cab driver sings a song of sorrow
He screams out loud to the land of the free
Curse the white man for what he has done
I’ll bring them down with me

Can you wait for tomorrow?
To live the life you want to live
Keep your head up and forget sorrow
For if there is one thing in this life
We are born and we are bound to die

Jackson Park

Written By: Travis Ehrenstrom

I’m headed north to Steamboat Colorado where the air is fine
And the night gives birth, to the stars over me
I’m tired of this city, the nine to five, the five to nine
Has taken over me and what remains
Is a heart that’s lost
And a soul that’s cold

I want to be a cowboy in the North Country woods
But that dream is dead along with its kind
So I’ll do what I can to be a hard working man
But when I sleep I am Jesse James
And I am lost
In the North Country woods

I am not the first one
But we’re sure to be the last
There’s a place that I belong to
I haven’t found it yet

I’m headed north to Steamboat Colorado
Because it’s quiet there
I can be whoever I please
Where the people talk in photographs
About their lives, about their past
The future they take from day to day
From a world
Spinning round

In Jackson Park the leaves fade
The colors of the sun are gone
The trees are weak a naked to the sky
What would it be like to be stripped bare of all I have?
Once a year to give all that I own
To a world
Given to me

Remember My Name

Written By: Travis Ehrenstrom

Dry your eyes dear
It's winter time
Don’t let the tear on your cheek survive
Because the sun will come
And when summer swings
It brings forth a new horizon for you to see
We waste our days thinking of what’s to come
Will you still remember my name?

But in four-hundred year will love remain?
Who’s to say that it should?
As we watch the world
Turn into flames

We are the ones
To shine a light for freedom
Shine a light for peace
Shine a light for the future
Shine a light for me

When it all comes down
And we're buried in the ground
Remember my name

Our lady is hurt
She lies in a foreign land
Softly speaking to her soldiers
Everything she demands
For when the blood is spilled
By innocent hands
How long will it take to cleanse our sin?

A Long Way Gone

Written By: Travis Ehrenstrom

I was born to fight
Wrong or right
The truth is with a gun in hand
I cannot die
Searching for a queen
That’s better than me
You can try to change
But you will fall
When the morning comes around
Everyone is dead

Somewhere in between
Sunrise and sunset
Lies a meaning to this life
But we’ll never know

Twisting and turning
With such a fickle tongue
I’m running out of air
It’s been so long
A long way gone from the fight
It ends tonight


Almost Tomorrow - 2004
Somewhere In Between - 2007

Set List

Sets are typically 1-2 hours containing mostly origional material but can play covers as requested.

here is an example setlist:

Long Way Gone
Remember My Name
I’ll be The Sun
In An Instant
Track 12 *
This Ship Is Sinking
Run While You Can
Sacred Ground
Juneau Girl (cover)
(Beatles) (cover)
So, Low

Christmas Song * (cover)
Goodnight Moon