Does Anybody Have Any Questions?

Hello, friends! Rob here.

I've been thinking about electricity a lot lately. When we last left off a few weeks ago, we were on our way to Wesport, CT. What I didn't mention (for fear of jinxing us) was that, due to what I can only describe as the vagaries and technicalities of bus law, we were running, oh, roughly ten hours late. The late-morning sound check we had so thoughtfully scheduled in order to facilitate an easy changeover before our set had sailed away so long ago it might as well have been the Santa Maria. The next problem was that the Blues, Views & BBQ Festival was an outdoor event which takes place by a marina in what appeared to be an at least semi-residential area. On a school night. Due to what I can only describe as the caprices and vendettas of homeowner's associations in areas with above-average property values, it was unclear at the time if we were actually going to be able to play our full set, or if we were even going to be able to play at all. Noise complaints, police, etc.

Something like forty-five minutes or an hour after we were supposed to start, we arrived at the venue. Raw Oyster Cult, featuring our good friend John Gros, had kindly extended their set to buy us some time. The house crew had already wired up the stage as best as they could in our absence. We pulled up, ditched most of our convenient-but-ultimately-superfluous equipment, hauled our bare necessities up a ramp, plugged stuff into whatever we could find, and made a handful of exploratory noises (ooh, great band name. Dibs.). If I recall correctly, we went from zero to rock concert in twenty-one minutes.

It was awesome.

I got started in school band when I was twelve years old. I was interested in the alto saxophone, but had to move over to the flute for my first year of concert band before I could switch to sax for jazz band. Not really the point of the story. The point is, before every band performance, our band director, this snazzy cat named Bill Brown, would always talk about what he called "electricity.” He would ask us: could we feel that electricity? It should feel like a buzz, or a tingle. The thing about electricity is, if you let it get the best of you, it can shock you. It can kill you. But it can be harnessed. It can be used productively.  It can light up a house.

I confess, as I get older, I've grown resistant to the effects of electricity. Resistance, like electricity, has its own benefits and drawbacks. Experience blunts the jitters and butterflies that mess up your focus, and focus can be as important to a musician as it is to an olympic gymnast. But if you're completely closed off to what's going on around you while you're playing, and you're rejecting the energy of the room and the spirit of the music, it's impossible to give an authentic performance. Sometimes I find myself having to generate my own electricity, using time-tested tools like a shot of whiskey, a few calisthenics, or a good old-fashioned battle cry. (I'm not kidding about that last one. Many traditional martial arts teach that shouting before or during an attack helps elevate one's adrenaline levels.)

I don't want to start talking about what city had the wildest crowd or which night was the best show, because that's just not generally how I like to think about things, but I will say that that set, which started an hour late, was cut twenty minutes short, and ended with us coming back out for an encore after the house crew had understandably deactivated the P.A. system (again, homeowner's associations), had more raw electricity than I've felt in years. I'm willing to risk outright bragging in saying that we lit up the house.

As a side note, before I forget, John Gros (who I didn't even get the chance to talk to that night!) is an exemplary human being and I sincerely hope that I will someday have the opportunity to share the kind of support and patronage with some up-and-coming New Orleans musicians that he shared with us when we were younger.

Okay, so, that's a little over seven hundred words, and that brings us up to... Monday. September 5. At this pace, we'll be writing a novel. And at my typical writing pace, you'll be reading this sometime in 2017.  So let's proceed to the lightning round:

Monday/Tuesday, September 5/6 – TCOB in NYC. That's "takin' care of business in New York City,” for those of you who aren't down with the abbrevs. Monday was mostly a shopping montage for Tuesday's press photo shoot. Tuesday we paid a visit to the Spotify office and got to see some of the cool ways they can use technology to cold brew their own coffee in the break room help us connect with our listeners and fans and friends, and then did the aforementioned photo shoot.

Wednesday, September 7 – Buffalo. Town Ballroom. We hadn't been to Buffalo in a while, and it was really cool to get to come back and play a lovely old theater like the TB. Also, funny story, I went to their website to double-check that they are, in fact, an old theater, and I saw that The Proclaimers are playing there soon, which is weird, because in Northampton I remember some of the house crew saying that The Proclaimers were coming through later in the week. So I'm pretty sure we're all walking the same five hundred miles.


Thursday, September 8 – The Shelter St. Andrew's Hall, Detroit, MI. It's our first time in Detroit! Ever! And they bumped us up to the big room! I know I already used the strikethrough gimmick earlier in this entry, but whatever. New cities are exciting! Also, at one point I was having a beer at a nearby bar and I overheard this guy standing right next to me tell his friends he was disappointed because "nobody from the band is in here.”

Friday, September 9 – Indianapolis, IN. Vogue Theatre. We played this room about a year ago, and it was our first time in Indianapolis, so I remember being quite pleasantly surprised when people showed up. Really cool room.

Saturday, September 10 – Hamilton, OH. David Shaw's Big River Get Down. Though it's Dave's hometown, Hamilton has been a special city for all of The Revivalists over the years, and it's great to see this event and this community growing and thriving and oh okay fine here:

 (Video by Sam Allouche)

For real though, what a lovely day. I've gotten misty-eyed in the past talking about the weird and wonderful network of family and friends we've met, built, grown, and occasionally stumbled backwards into knowing over the course of this adventure, and I can tell the BRGD is going to be an annual lovefest for years to come.

Sunday, September 11 – Off day. Spent most of it watching football. Pretty sure the Saints are going to be a butt sandwich roasting on top of a dumpster fire this year.

Monday, September 12 – Beachland Ballroom, Cleveland, OH.  Nice to get back to the ol' BB, but not much specific to report.

INTERMISSION: On the overwhelming majority of these tour dates we have been supported by a wonderful group of musicians known as The Temperance Movement. It has been an absolute pleasure getting to know and hang with them over the last few weeks, and you should definitely give them a listen because I can't imagine the kind of person who doesn't respond to their particular style of honest, no-nonsense rock and roll, and I don't want to. Damon, you're gonna have to give me a little more time on that hit list. INTERMISSION OVER.

Tuesday/Wednesday, September 13/14 – Syracuse, NY. We played the Westcott Theatre on Tuesday night, and then the next day they were kind enough to let us (and Temperance) come in and get a bit of rehearsal time. Also I got a haircut and the barber shop had some really weird magazines:

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Thursday, September 15 – Northampton, MA. Northampton is a pleasant town with a charming main street. We'd been there once before, long years ago, in a much smaller room. During load-in, one of the house crew at Pearl Street Nightclub mentioned that The Proclaimers would be coming through sometime later in the week.

Friday, September 16 – DANG IT BOSTON STOP BUYING ME ALL THESE G-DARN SHOTS nah just kidding you guys are all right. After how it went last year, we had high hopes for our return to the legendary Paradise Rock Club, and boy howdy were we ever whatever the opposite of disappointed is. Appointed?

Saturday/Sunday, September 17/18 – Speaking of annual-ish traditions that make us feel the love, let's take a moment to talk about Harvest Jazz & Blues Festival in Fredericton, NB. That's New Brunswick, Canada, for those of you who aren't down with the Canadabbrevs (note to self: you can do better). Harvest is a festival like no other, made up of tents, street stages, clubs, and buskers. It is run by an incredible team and every year it's just so easy and such a blast. This year we got to share the stage with Marchfourth Marching Band, who, aside from being top-notch musicians and even better humans, are also great because they are perhaps the only band in the world that makes me feel like maybe seven Revivalists isn't too many people for one band. Show was Saturday, Sunday was a day off.

Monday, September 19 – Bus day. Long drive from New Brunswick to...

Tuesday, September 20 – State Theatre in State College, PA. Home of the Nittany Lions! Another new city, and another fun show. Tuesday was also a very special day, because it was the day that this officially happened:

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I had that same band director from sixth grade all the way through my high school graduation. Every year, twice a year, he'd give that same speech about electricity before our semester concerts. He would always tell us to come back and visit when we were big-time musicians and drop by his office with a CD. I never got the chance. He died when I was in college. Some freak brain thing. Aneurysm or tumor or some such. The vagaries of life. The caprices of fragile being. I wonder if he ever knew just how much I learned from him.