Musicians at Play
Meet The New Kids of NOLA

Words by Audra Tracy


Our friends at CEG turned us onto The Revivalists, a self-proclaimed ‘folnk’ band from New Orleans whose dorm-friendly jams rival that of the Dave Matthews Band and Robert Randolph.

Recently nominated ‘Best Emerging Artist’ for OffBeat Magazine’s ‘Best of the Beat’ awards, The Revivalists have already shared the stage with the likes of Marco Benevento and Perpetual Groove. This year the six-piece released their first full-length album, Vital Signs, which was recorded in the 504 and engineered by Chris Finney (B.B. King, Bonerama).

Press play and album opener ‘Not Turn Away’ will quickly get you acquainted with The Revivalists’ warm, inviting sound. Hearty pedal steel riffs and gentle sax-play weave in-between lovelorn lyrics that echo the blues. Like most Southern gentlemen, The Revivalists find solace in the simple pleasures of a stiff drink and a good woman, as evident on tracks like ‘Catching Fireflies’ and ‘Purple Heart’. The songs on Vital Signs set the groundwork for some playful live liberties – which is where these Gulf Coasters really Revive you. On the road, new material including ‘Soul’s Too Loud’ and ‘Appreciate Me I’ invite nightly reinvention.

The Revivalists played 110 shows this year, with enough steam in the engine to cap off 2010 by recording a follow-up to Vital Signs – this time with Galactic’s Ben Ellman in the producer’s chair. And on December 30th, The Revivalists will join fellow NOLA natives the Rebirth Brass Band at Le Poisson Rouge in New York City.

As the clock ticks toward 2011, The Revivalists’ pedal steel guitarist Ed Williams let us into his world of New Orleans folnk, never-ending Icing wars, and the art of ‘brilliantivity’.

Digging the new album, especially ‘Catching Fireflies’ and ‘Not Turn Away’…What’s the story behind the making of Vital Signs?

Thank you! Yeah we really like how those songs came out too. Interestingly, we had demos together, but for the most part those two songs were ones that we worked out in the studio. Most of the other tracks on the album we had been playing live for some time before. We recorded Vital Signs at a nice studio in New Orleans with a great engineer, Chris Finney.

How do you know if a ‘soul’s too loud’? What inspired such a great song?

Your soul’s too loud when your core being perseveres in spite of all the negativity that may surround you. The concept behind the lyrics is this young woman is in kind of an abusive relationship. The idea was to make this relationship an allegory for the relationship between mankind and mother earth. So she is the planet, he is the people, and our, well I guess that would be like everything. I don’t think anybody interpreted the song this way though. The best way to interpret a song like this is whatever makes sense to you.

“We are going into the studio to record our next album in December, which we are really excited about. We are working with producer Ben Ellman (Galactic, Trombone Shorty), so the sky is the limit.”
– Ed Williams

You use the word ‘brilliantivity’ on your blog. In a musical sense, what does that word mean to you?

‘Brilliantivity’ is the art of being brilliant while being creative. We basically use it because we find the word hilarious. We always joke how if you want to hear a band sound like a bunch of assholes, then ask them what kind of music they play: because it always turns into a long list of genres infused with another long list of genres. This is one of the words we use to prevent this problem. That, and we also use ‘Folnk’, which is Folk Funk, but it always seems to be the word we find most hilarious that day or week.

How does the life of a New Orleans frat boy differ from the typical rock-star lifestyle? Which persona do you bring to the stage?

Only one of us was in a frat, our sax player Rob (Ingraham), and one of the best things he got out of that was his ability to drink whiskey endlessly. When we our on stage we definitely like to bring the high energy, and we love to rock out like any good band, but we also joke around that we are the rock band you can bring home to your mother because we consider ourselves all to be pretty nice, polite guys. When we are on stage I think we come off a lot crazier then we are normally because of all the energy we put out.

We love Marco Benevento…but would you ‘ice’ him if you had the chance?

We missed our chance! We had a gig opening for him about a year ago. What a great musician. Really nice guy too. I bet he would accept the icing. We had a chance to Ice some good friends of ours “the blue party” when we had a show with them a month or two ago. We just left them around the stage for them to find during sound check and the show. They swore they would get us back when we go on tour with them in January, so we might have inadvertently started a never ending icing war. I just hope they don’t hit us with the grape flavor.

What can New Yorkers expect from your upcoming gig at Le Poisson Rouge? We are a tough crowd – sell us!

We always have fun when we are in New York. The crowd can expect a high-energy show that we have become known for. We are also going into the studio to record our next album in December before the show, which we are really excited about. We are working with producer Ben Ellman (Galactic, Trombone Shorty), so the sky is the limit. We have some great new material, so New York might be the first ones to hear some of them. | New Orleans