Mother Plug Music presents The Revivalists featuring special guest Patrick Sweany and Willie and the Giant, Friday, June 26, at Avondale Brewing Co. Get your tickets here!
The Revivalists. The formation of The Revivalists was all about chance, but everything since then has been a combination of hard work, awesome music, and friendship. The septet has been playing nonstop since 2007, crafting a genre-hopping sound that rounds out traditional rock instrumentation with horns and pedal steel guitar and mixes the divergent backgrounds of its individual members with the humid, funky undercurrents of the band’s New Orleans home. The result is like English spoken with an exotic accent: familiar, yet difficult to pin down.
Religion aside, a revival is all about the tangible electricity that can only be created when enough like minds are crammed under a single roof for a singular purpose. It’s a spiritual spectacle, a carnival of the divine, a whole greater than the sum of its parts. The same could be said for The Revivalists’ searing live performances. The band has a knack for bringing music to life on a stage, and they have tuned their talents to Swiss-watch precision over years of relentless touring. Their bombastic showmanship is the outgrowth of a desire to connect with audiences on a personal level, and that intimate connection is what elevates their shows above simple entertainment.
True to their name, The Revivalists lean more heavily on the older styles and warmer sounds of the golden age of rock ‘n roll, but the band isn’t afraid to dabble in electronics and sleight-of-studio when it’s right for the song. The group tends not to bother with questions like “does this sound like us?” or “does this fit with our other stuff?”, instead allowing songs to define themselves and take shape organically, each on its own terms. Is this a dark, heavy rock manifesto driven by a steel guitar line that borders on electronica, or is it an airy, acoustic story about star-crossed lovers, rich in vocal harmony and sparsely arranged until the coda? This one’s funky, that one’s sweet, this one’s heavy… To The Revivalists, it doesn’t matter. They just write songs that they want to play.
MEET THE BAND
THE GROUP’S COMBINATION OF DANCEABLE ROCK AND SOULFUL SONGWRITING (AND BRILLIANTIVITY) COMES TO LIFE THROUGH A METICULOUSLY CRAFTED AND EVER-EVOLVING LIVE PERFORMANCE. THE BAND HAS BEEN INSTRUMENTAL IN THE GROWTH OF NEW ORLEANS’ BURGEONING INDIE ROCK SCENE, AND THEY HAVE ACHIEVED SUCCESS AND NOTORIETY IN THE CITY’S COMPETITIVE MUSICAL LANDSCAPE.
Patrick Sweany likes the spaces in between.
On a given night (or on a given album) he’ll swing through blues, folk, soul, bluegrass, maybe some classic 50s rock, or a punk speedball. He’s a musical omnivore, devouring every popular music sound of the last 70 years, and mixing ’em all together seamlessly into his own stew. Yet, the one thing that most people notice about Patrick isn’t his ability to copy – it’s his authenticity. Like his heroes, artists like Bobby “Blue” Bland, Doug Sahm, Joe Tex, Patrick somehow manages to blend all of these influences into something all his own.
It’s no wonder that as a kid he immersed himself in his dad’s extensive record collection: 60s folk, vintage country, soul, and, of course, blues. Patrick spent hours teaching himself to fingerpick along to Leadbelly, Lightnin’ Hopkins, and other folk-blues giants.
In his late teens, Patrick began playing the clubs and coffeehouses around Kent, OH. He quickly gained a reputation for the intricate country blues style he was developing: part Piedmont picking, part Delta slide – with an equally impressive deep, smooth vocal style.
But Patrick wouldn’t stay in the acoustic world for long. His love of 50s era soul and rock fused with the adrenaline-soaked garage punk revival happening throughout the Rust Belt pushed Pat to form a band.
After 4 critically acclaimed CDs (two produced by longtime collaborator Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys), Patrick has expanded his touring radius to 49 states and the UK. He’s played premiere festivals all over the U.S., and supported national acts such as The Black Keys, The Gourds, The Wood Brothers, Wayne Hancock, Hot Tuna, and Paul Thorn on tour.
His latest record, Close To The Floor, hit the streets July 16, 2013. It was recorded to 2″ tape in Nasheville, TN and features contributions from Joe McMahan (Luella & The Sun, Allsion Moorer, Webb Wilder), Ron Eoff (Cate Brothers, Levon Helm), Jon Radford (Justin Townes Earle, Lilly Hiatt), and Ryan Norris (Lambchop), among others. Close To The Floor is a gritty, hard look at some very difficult recent events in Sweany’s life and recalls the halcyon days of Muscle Shoals releases by Dan Penn, Eddie Hinton and Leon Russell.
Willie and the Giant.
Which makes sense. The retro-minded Nashville band cut these new songs at all-analog studio Welcome to 1979, where an impressive list of legends and contemporaries have recorded before them—Todd Snider and Dave Schools’ Hard Working Americans, The North Mississippi All-Stars, Those Darlins, Jason Isbell, even Animals frontman Eric Burdon.
“We wanted that warm, saturated sound that you can only get from tape,” frontman Will Stewart says, “and Welcome to 1979 specializes in just that. It was cozy, too. Everything there is intentionally stylized to take you four decades back in time.”
“It definitely felt like a special place,” adds six-foot-five lead guitarist Jon Poor (aka The Giant). “From the minute we walked in, we were instantly at ease.”
This positive feel carried over to the sessions, which found the Nashville group’s Alabama roots on prominent display. Both Stewart and Poor were veterans of the Birmingham scene before relocating to Nashville, striking up a friendship and starting Willie and the Giant. For their self-titled debut LP (out April 21 on Cumberland Brothers Music), the band’s two singer-guitarists, plus bassist Grant Prettyman and drummer Mac Kramer were joined in the studio by friend and ‘Bama staple Matt Slocum—who tours with Black Crowes guitarist Rich Robinson—on keys.
Everything was recorded live together in the same room—Slocum’s sparkling hammond organ, Prettyman’s in-the-pocket grooves, Kramer’s ebullient, driving beats, Poor’s soulful Stratocaster licks and Stewart’s silky and expressive lead vocals.
“When we play, we really feed off of each other,” Poor says. “So this approach was perfect to capture our sound and really bring that human element to it. Most of our all-time favorite records—if you go back and research them—were done live, and we wanted to emulate that.”
The spontaneous results offer up plenty of eclectic magic— sweltering swamp grooves, dark and lonesome spaghetti-Western tunes offset by feel-good soul-pop ditties, gorgeous dueling guitar melodies, fist-pumping no-frills American rock & roll, glammy ‘70s raveups, fiery Southern anthems and stadium-ready psychedelic blues epics.
“This record is a culmination of the band writing and arranging together for the last year,” Stewart says. “It’s a blend of our personal playing styles and influences, which continue to change and evolve as we learn each other’s tendencies. The songs are diverse, stylistically, but still find cohesion through the production and the way they were recorded. We wanted the sound to be uniquely our own without being overly referential and I think we achieved that.”