“We’re like this seven-headed beast roaming around America,” frontman of the explosive jam band The Revivalists David Shaw tells me.
Shaw has a slow, southern drawl that charms me immediately. He’s meticulous with his responses, allowing himself all the time in the world to conjure up the perfect retort. The typical New Yorker in me may have been tapping my foot on the other end of the phone at first but within a moment it was as if I were a patient southern belle, lost in his cloud of poetic stories.
The Revivalists were born in New Orleans by somewhat of an accident. Shaw tells me that he was out on his porch singing a song called “Purple Heart” when guitarist Zach Feinberg rode by on his bike. Luckily, he liked what he heard. The pair wound up hanging out together for the rest of the day and became the first two of the seven-headed beast called The Revivalists.
“I think we are a singer-songwriter’s heart inside of a rock and roll body,” Shaw says of the band’s sound. “At the heart of our band is songwriting. There are a bunch of songwriters in the band. But, we love to make people dance and have fun at our shows,” he adds. He reminisces on some rock and roll bands that put on epic shows such as Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Rolling Stones and Portugal. The Man. Shaw’s thrilled when I suggest Cage the Elephant. “Yes! That one is much better,” he admits. “The common thread is that all of these bands get their audience engaged in their shows,” he concludes.
According to the band’s trumpeter Michael Girardot, the band is rock and roll, but with far less romantic reasoning. “It’s the easiest thing to say! When we write a song, we have an arsenal of sounds coming from seven different guys,” Girardot says of the band’s sound. “If you listen to [our third album] Men Against Mountains it’s a little all over the place but it works because we’re the same band at the core,” he says. “Honestly, we get called a lot of different things and none of them are wrong.”
In particular, The Revivalists were included in the “10 Bands You Need to Know” by Rolling Stone in 2016 and more recently, their newest single “Wish I Knew You” reached No. 1 on the Alternative Songs chart.
“We are a real band who writes our own songs and our own lyrics,” Shaw says of their music. “When fans come to our show, they can count on seeing us play our instruments and [for us to] give them every bit of ourselves. We will leave it all out on the stage,” he promises.
With their roots in New Orleans, the band is prone to creating “good community party vibes,” Girardot says. “We want everyone together, to be standing up, having a good time. We want people to take home joy and excitement and for even just one minute forget what was bugging them that morning.” He also informs me that the band has been playing between approximately 100 to 160 shows a year for about eight years.
Shaw carefully crafted the story behind his most memorable show out of the hundreds. “It was the year Prince passed away,” he says of their show at the the Orpheum Theater in New Orleans for JazzFest in 2016. “We paid tribute to him and we all shared that moment in time honoring such an amazing and creative force in the musical world, and in life in general. The man taught me so many ways to be and ways not to be. He reinvented himself so many times and if you are a true artist at heart, that is where your heart lies. I think that honoring him in music and in that evening, the way we did, was beautiful.” The show was a massive success and ended with an emotional encore of “Purple Rain.” Although as Shaw continues to recall other festival sets and sold-out shows, I remind him of one in particular: their set at Okeechobee Music & Arts Festival.
“You’re talking about when I cracked my head open,” he says. “I had taken a nasty spill on stage. Apparently I hit my head but did not realize it at all. A fan looked at me and yelled, ‘Dave! You’re bleeding from your head!’ That’s when I tasted it,” he reveals. “It started falling like the devil’s tears down my face. Red as ever.” In typical rock and roll style, Shaw continued to perform that day. He wiped the blood from his face, finished the set and had the entire crowd on their feet–quite literally, giving everything he had.
The Revivalists will be performing at the Rocky Mountain Folks Festival in Colorado, Lockn’ Music Festival in Virginia and Life Is Beautiful in Nevada later this year.