Dustbowl Revival: Genre Bending At Its Finest

Photo curtesy of Outside Lands

As some of you may know, Nashville Tennessee was host to Americanafest 2015 last week.  For the uninformed amongst you, Americanafest was a 5 day long celebration of roots, folk, bluegrass, and any other conceivable genre that can fall under the extremely large and versatile Americana umbrella. Lots of acts stood out, The Wood Brothers, Eddie Berman, The Hackensaw Boys, but one act in particular really blew crowds away with their unique blend of musical influences as well as their phenomenal talent and stage presence.  That group of course, is Dustbowl Revival.

What do you get when you mix roots, string band music, dixie-land jazz, and old time music?  You get the 8 piece amalgam of all things interesting in music known as Dustbowl Revival.  The LA based group stopped by The City Winery in Nashville to play an hour long set that had a more eclectic set list than the rest of the festival’s acts combined.  While it would be damn near impossible to classify these guys in terms of genre, one thing is absolutely certain, they are brimming with talent.

Each member of the ensemble brings a unique energy to the stage and sound.  Whether it was lead-singer Zach Lupetin’s soulful pipes or Connor Vance’s ingenious idea of plugging a fiddle into a wah-pedal, there was no shortage of “blow your mind” moments during their set.  What was truly remarkable was how every single member of the group stood out at one point or another.  Each player got their time in the spotlight either by playing a solo with virtuosity or just dancing and having a great time on stage.  There is absolutely no denying, this band has fun up there and it makes having fun that much easier for the audience.

According to singer and guitarist Zach Lupetin, the band’s influences are complex and difficult to pin down to just a few groups.  One person might throw an album from blues musicians like C.W. Stoneking (look him up if you like mystery with your music), another a Fats Waller record, and another the soundtrack to Phantom of the Opera.  That is one of the reasons why Dustbowl Revival is putting out such unique and beautifully complex music.  The band clearly casts a wide net and brings in elements from all over the musical map and timeline.

Lupetin went on to describe the process of how the group puts together a show.  He made it clear that creating a set-list on any given night is not something he prefers to do, calling it “one of my least favorite things.”  So, rather than meticulously plan, the group will feel out the crowd and go from there.  There was beauty in the simplicity and improvisational feel to that idea, forget the procedure of trying to predict how the crowd will act and feel, give them what they want when they want it.  It takes a skilled group of musicians to orchestrate that at any given time on stage with synchronicity, especially when there are 8 of them.  But, if there were ever moments of set-list improvisation for them on stage, I certainly couldn’t tell.

Overall, this is a talented group deserving of recognition.  Their new album With A Lampshade On dropped only a couple of months ago and it includes all live tracks.  If you are a fan of high energy music that can be soulful, fun, and inspiring make sure to get yourself a copy ASAP.  Just to add a little more incentive, here is the official video for the title track and self-proclaimed party anthem, “Lampshade On”

-Ryan Schmitz

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