The Revival Tour 2009
with Chuck Ragan, Jim Ward, Frank Turner, Jon Snodgrass, Chad Price, Audra Mae, and Zydepunks
The Social, Orlando, FL • November 22, 2009
The Revival Tour defines itself as “an acoustic collaborative event.” Spawned from the creative mind of Hot Water Music’s Chuck Ragan and his wife Jill, it allows an ever shifting cast of musicians to leave their egos on the bus, toss out the hierarchy of set times, and spend a few hours each night jamming on stage with their friends. This simple concept, brought to fruition by the most down-to-earth, good-hearted musicians you could hope to find, made The Revival Tour one of the most highly anticipated shows of the year – at least for those who knew about its existence. The second annual trek across the States finished up its five week tour in front of an appreciative audience at The Social in Orlando.
Jumping right into the collaborative element of the evening’s festivities, Ragan piled onto the stage with the night’s co-players which included: Jim Ward (of Sparta and Sleepercar, and formerly of At the Drive-In), Frank Turner, Jon Snodgrass and Chad Price (of Drag the River), Audra Mae, and members of Zydepunks. Between the players and their myriad instruments – which counted an accordion, a mandolin, and an upright bass amongst the usual assortment of acoustic guitars – every inch of the long, narrow stage was beaten down. Banishing the usual artist/audience decorum from the word go, they performed as a crowd for the crowd at its feet.
Joining in on one another’s songs, band members casually came and went throughout the night, occasionally leaving one of the main players all by his lonesome to strum through a short set. For Jim Ward this meant quietly concentrating his way through a toe-tingling collection of Sleepercar and Sparta tunes that, unfortunately, the majority of the audience missed because their conversations were seemingly more interesting. Ward berated the crowd when the chatter became too loud to ignore, and added “I’ve got a microphone and I can just get louder.” Hidden in the dark on the side of the stage, as he was, I wondered if the chatterboxes would have shut the hell up had they opened their eyes and realized that Hey! That’s the dude from At the Drive-In! Regardless of whether or not you knew the man’s colorful musical history, Ward poured his soul into his delivery and those who listened were enraptured.
English-bred folkster Frank Turner, who used to front a band most have never heard of on this side of the Atlantic called Million Dead, got little more attention during his private time. Which is a shame because his take on acoustic music has more in common with Ragan than any of the other artists on the bill – infusing campfire folk with a whiskey drinkin’ edge, complete with the occasional throat-tearing bellow. A smidgen of Flogging Molly-esque St. Patty’s Day flavor, as best heard on the sing-along “The Road,” didn’t hurt his sound either. Fans of the new Folk, open your ears, Turner’s a man to discover!
Even with the less than perfect audience, this traveling troupe of music lovers were having a ball with one another on stage. Auba Mae, the sole bringer of estrogen on the tour, packed sweet charm in addition to powerful vocal cords. Joined by members of Zydepunks, she closed out her set with a cover of Charlie Chaplin’s “Smile.” It’s just these sorts of innocent and spontaneous moments that make The Revival Tour so unique.
Predictably it was the Chuck Ragan-led moments that got the fans to stand at attention. Whether busting a gut on the rougher songs (“California Burritos,” “The Boat”), or softening the air with a sincere croon as on “Geraldine” or “Rotterdam,” the Gainesville man was the star of the tour. Humble as can be, Ragan appeared much more comfortable when surrounded by his peers on the long stage, and was perfectly giddy just to be playing the harmonica or singing backup on someone else’s composition. He’s bringing a sincere love of music back to the world of touring with this show, and it’s a project he hopes and plans to continue.
That’s not to say he doesn’t still have a fire brewing in his belly for the hardcore punk world he came from. No rest for the weary, Ragan was off to Germany the following morning to “meet up with the Hot Water guys” for a tour of a slightly more aggro tone.
The Revival Tour: http://www.therevivaltour.com/ ◼