Revivalists bring their ‘Mountains’ to Aspen’s
If You Go …
What: The Revivalists
Where: Belly Up Aspen
When: Monday, June 29, 9:30 p.m.
Tickets: Belly Up box office; www.bellyupaspen.com
The Revivalists’ growing local fan base will have some new songs to learn when the New Orleans rock band returns to Belly Up on Monday. The band has a new record, “Men Amongst Mountains,” set for release in mid-July, but the seven-piece outfit isn’t waiting until then to bring the new songs to the stage.
The record leans more toward soul than straight rock. Its 14 songs – most of which the band has already been playing live for months – are more vocally charged than the pedal steel- and guitar-based jam blues of earlier albums. The “Men Amongst Mountains” songs are made to be performed live.
They’re soul-based templates that can be shaped live with improvisation, injected with heavier or softer instrumentation, going where the night takes them.
“The place that soul music thrives is live,” said lead singer David Shaw. “There’s an emotive style of singing and you can conjure up that emotion of when the song was written. So I think, out of playing live so much, we’ve found that’s something that everyone in the band gravitates to. So we’ve just been writing songs in that way.”
Shaw and his hard-touring band has toured nearly non-stop since they formed the Revivalists in 2007, playing upwards of 200 shows a year. The band has made frequent stops in Aspen, beginning with a free show at Belly Up in 2012 and including a main stage slot at last year’s Labor Day Experience.
Some of the sing-along-friendly songs on the new record are ready-made for crowded clubs like Belly Up. Anthemic songs like “Stand Up” and “Keep Going” – both with cathartic two-word choruses – have inspired crowds hearing them for the first time to belt out the chorus in unison. “Wish I Knew You” offers a sax-infused funk, a tailor-made concert party-starter.
The album’s title track, “Men Amongst Mountains,” inspired by the Rockies during one of the band’s runs through Colorado last year, is a proper love ballad.
Sections of each song are open for musical tangents, out on what Shaw calls “the creative edge.”
“Sometimes it’s amazing and sometimes it’s like, ‘Whoa, bring it back fellas,’” he said with a laugh. “But as a band you have to be willing to put yourself out there. That’s rock and roll.”
Based in New Orleans, the band is made up of transplants from elsewhere who started playing together when they were students at the neighboring Tulane and Loyola universities. The band got its start playing small clubs around the city and it has some Crescent City funk in its DNA, with a prominently featured saxophone and pedal steel over swampy Meters-style bass grooves and rock guitar, with Shaw’s soulful tenor laid on top.
Last summer, the band spent three weeks in a studio in Bogalusa, Louisiana recording “Men Amongst Mountains.” But Shaw and his cohorts largely write songs on the road. Often they write on-stage, night to night, with pieces of compositions coming together bit by bit. If the high-octane energy of the Revivalists’ live show doesn’t always translate on their records, it’s because they’re the kind of band that feeds off of an audience, and needs a crowd to create. At a handful of festivals, they’ve gone on stage without a set list, just with a few elements and pieces of songs to test out – looking to discover something unique in the moment.
“Having an audience in front of you makes you rise to the occasion,” said Shaw. “Everyone’s in it. The communication is at a heightened pitch. It’s good for us to do that.”
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