The Revival Tour – Slims – San Francisco, CA – 11/6/09
Me and many others have drawn a crooked, dirty line from old-time country, mountain and folk music to punk music. Working class themes punctuated by simple rhythms defined more by passion then artistry While I consider myself a music fan, I know next to nothing about current punk (or post-punk) bands, so I took it on the advice of a friend to check this tour out. I did some research and like what I learned.
The tour started last year as the brainchild of Chuck Ragan, frontman for post-hardcore/punk band, Hot Water Music, and presented by Ragan’s own label Ten Four Records. The format gathers a revolving cast of musicians from various punk and post-punk bands to revive the old style jamboree and hayride format of organic collaboration. The musicians either stripped down their original material to fit the folk/ Americana acoustic format or they have written material that fits the genre structure for the show and egos are kept in check as musicians accompany each other in various combinations.
Aside from Ragan, this bill for the Orlando show featured Jim Ward (of At The Drive-In, Sleepercar and Sparta), Frank Turner (of Million Dead), Joey Cape (Lagwagon), folk/Americana singer Audra Mae, The Anderson Family Bluegrass Band, Konrad Wert (Possessed by Paul James) and featured the frequent and excellent fiddle playing of Jon Gaunt & Digger Barnes on the upright bass bringing up the low end.
The show starts with all the musicians on stage exhibiting the democratic and supportive ethos that characterizes the tour. It sounds like a recipe for chaos but all the performers are amazing and the caradre from the musicians spills out into an adoring crowd that whoops and claps along.
Audra Mae and The Anderson Family Bluegrass Band were the only full-time Americana acts on the bill and they delivered in spades. The former sang with a clear stream voice that warmed your heart and made you forget your troubles and the latter, Mom Christy on upright bass, Dad Mark banjo and their family Paige (guitar/vocals), Aimee (fiddle), Ethen (mandolin) and Daisey (fiddle), tearing it up onstage and winning over an audience that probably could not name one song by Bill Monroe.
El Paso, TX based Jim Ward, formerly the rhythm guitarist of At The Drive-In, the vocalist/guitarist in Sparta, and currently fronting his Alt-Country project Sleepercar performed a spirited set and appears to be comfortable in his newly chosen genre (must be those Texas roots) and British folk/punk Frank Turner (formerly the vocalist of U.K. post-Hardcore band Million Dead) performed a rollicking set drinking songs from across the pond and remained us all that “What you call Americana and country has been kicking around my country for a couple of thousand years.” tis true. Both performers left me wanting more.
Possessed by Paul James did a sit down set with a soar and yelp of his voice he embodied the best tradition of a one man band and local boy (well, Santa Barbara) Joey Cape played a great set to an audience that seemed to know his songs word for word and sometimes filled in. Cape’s voice, more than the others, lent itself well to the more subtle singer/songwriter format. Jon Gaunt was a great pick for fiddle support. He reminded me of O’Death’s Bob Pycior as a find of a guy that brings ferocity yet precision to the instrument.
As a master of ceremonies Chuck Ragan is a modest one. His graveled vocals and acoustic attack that can only come fro a guy that cut his teeth on punk’s intensity and he commands the stage during his set. As he plays through his set the rest of the band enters the stage and things end as they began , camaraderie and revelry on a large scale. Check closed by saying “See you next year!” so it appears that the Revival Tour will continue for years to come. I’ll be there.