There’s a case to be made that New Orleans is blessed with equal amounts of musical talent and unexplainable magic, and The Revivalists offer potent evidence. Eight years ago, guitarist Zack Feinberg inexplicably shifted routes on his bike ride home from work and discovered recent-Ohioan-turned-New Orleanian David Shaw singing and playing guitar on his porch. Their chance meeting turned into a collaborative duo, which then expanded into a seven-piece band that found an eager audience at Checkpoint Charlie’s, the New Orleans version of Cincinnati’s old Rock & Roll clubhouse, Sudsy Malone’s. A booking at the Crescent City’s revered Tipitina’s forced the band into officially christening themselves, and thus was born The Revivalists.
Through a series of festival gigs and appearances with Trombone Shorty, JJ Grey & Mofro and Alabama Shakes, The Revivalists attracted a fervent regional fan base, which quickly led to national touring, wider exposure and bigger congregations at every stop. The Revivalists’ particular area of expertise is the ability to identify the Venn diagram center point of Folk, Jazz, Jam, Indie Rock, Reggae and Pop, and then run that hybridized style through their brilliantly diverse New Orleans filter to come up with a slyly familiar but completely original direction.
While The Revivalists have been a constant live presence since their 2007 launch, until this year, the band’s studio offerings have been limited to a 2008 self-titled EP, 2011’s Vital Signs and 2012’s amped-up City of Sound. The band signed with Wind-up Records early last year and the label reissued City of Sound with a bonus live disc; the group’s official Wind-up debut came this past summer with the release of the soulfully jubilant Men Amongst Mountains.
One taste of The Revivalists’ brand of Soul/Jam in the live context and you’ll understand why they’ve hit the road so hard; the aptly named septet will convert you in a river-dunking heartbeat and have you dancing, baptized in your own sweat, in half that time.