War & Treaty at the 2019 Pilgrimage Festival

Photo by Terry Wyatt, courtesy of Essential Broadcast Media


Often times, couples may struggle with the careful balancing act of managing time between work and play. For Tanya and Michael Trotter, the husband and wife duo that make up the Americana band The War & Treaty, work and play are conjoined into one thing: performing. This is something they’ve been able to do all over the world, with their latest performance invigorating hundreds of fans at the Pilgrimage Music Festival in Franklin on Saturday.

Performing at the Gold Record Road stage, which would later see Keith Urban perform at later that same day, The War & Treaty slowed the tempo down for audience members, with Michael’s wide vocal range complementing their slow, soulful tunes.

Michael said he was impressed with the energy of the audience, and that the feedback they got made him feel “honored, special [and] loved.”

“The audience was just ready, they were ready even though it’s hot inside,” Michael said after the performance. “They were ready to lend us their energy, and we were ready to lend them ours. It was exciting.”

While Tanya had been singing and writing music since her early teens, Michael wouldn’t seriously pursue music until much later, and under very different circumstances.

In 2003, Michael was deployed to Iraq after having joined the United States Army two years after the September 11 attacks. Stationed in one of Saddam Hussein’s destroyed palaces, Michael would play and sing on an abandoned piano, something his captain heard one day and would later encourage him to pursue a career in music.

That same captain would later be killed, and it was this event that would eventually inspire Michael to take his music to the next level.

Performing nearly a dozen songs during their 50 minute setlist, Tanya said it was impossible to choose any one song in particular as a favorite, though a particular song inspired by Michael’s time in the United States Military did stand out to her.

“All of them have a different emotion that they bring out of you – some songs hit home a little harder like “Dear Martha,” which is about Michael’s service and one of his battle buddies,” Tanya said. “So there are songs that dig deeper and require a little more emotions out of you, but they’re like kids – you can’t decide which one you love best because they’re all great.”

Having performed all over the world, with one of their more recent performances being at the Byron Bay Blues Festival in Australia, Michael said that the Nashville area had a very distinct flavor in terms of its treatment towards artists.

“I think that the willingness to learn [that] the Nashville crowd has [compared] to other festivals, there’s a different kind of engagement here than overseas,” Michael said. “We have so many different kinds of artists in America, so we sometimes get complacent in how we treat our artists. Nashville, I think, houses the most artists, period, and it doesn’t feel under appreciated. I think that’s what’s so beautiful about the culture of Nashville.”

When asked what fans could do to help support the band, Michael simply encouraged people to go see live shows, whether they be for The War & Treaty or not. 

“What helps artists is to go see live shows,” Michael said. “Maybe it’s not ours, but go see a live show, period. Get back into live music.”