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Revival Tour @ Lee’s Palace

. : : April 1st, 2013 : : .

Upon disbanding his band, Hot Water MusicChuck Ragan decided to pursue a very different sort of solo career. Casting off the punk rock genre that had defined much of the previous thirteen years of music, he focused on dabbling in acoustic / folk music.

OK, maybe dabble isn’t the right word? What would you call it when someone creates a large travelling show of punk rock singers sharing the stage as they perform exclusively on acoustic instruments? As per Wikipedia, Ragan “conceptualized the idea of The Revival Tour, a collaborative acoustic event featuring several punk rock, bluegrass, and alt-country performers [to bring music] to people in an extremely honest and grassroots fashion.”

Knowing little about Ragan or the vast majority of his guests on the 2013 North America rendition of the tour, this is the kind of event that would normally fly by unseen on my radar. That is, except Ragan brought out a little old singer/songwriter by the name of Rocky Votolato on these dates.

Featuring the musical styling of Dave HauseToh Kay, and Jenny Owen Youngs (in addition to the two aforementioned musicians), each performer was supported as needed by Jon Gaunt on the fiddle and Joe Ginsberg on the upright bass. Who was actually on stage at any given time, though, was extremely fluid. It was a three hour, non-stop collaboration in the truest sense of the word: participants would come, contribute a part, a section, or a harmony, and seemingly disappear as quickly and quietly as they arrived.

You would expect a non-stop three hour (plus!) musical performance to be exhausting — and in other conditions it might just be, but the short “sets” with the ever-changing rotation of performers kept things moving at a good clip. There was no “opening band”, no “top billing”, just a stage full of musicians having a great time playing music together. In fact, if you were only attending for a specific musician, and showed up late or left early accordingly, I guarantee you missed something you’d otherwise want to have seen.

The show started off with each musician (excepting Toh Kay, for some odd reason) performing one of their songs with everyone on the stage. In fact, the very first number, On The Bow, was performed a capella with each of the musicians standing at the top of the stage, each with their arms around the backs of the adjoining musician, belting out the lyrics in a show of brotherhood (ahem, and sisterhood) and solidarity. After each got his or her turn, it broke off into a series of mini-sets where each performer had a six-or-seven song showcase to perform their material in various configurations, utilizing the skills and talents of their fellow musicians as desired.

As an “encore”, using the word lightly as there was no pretense of leaving the stage to illicit extraneous applause, the musicians returned to the configuration of the opening set, each performer performed one of their songs with the entire company again (including Toh Kay, this time!).

In the middle of Chuck Ragan’s set, the entire setlist was put on hold to bring audience member Chuck Coles of The Organ Thieves onto the stage for an impromptu song. This spontaneity and anything-can-happen atmosphere permeated the length of the show, and kept it from ever dragging or testing patience. Again, a colossal feat considering it was more than THREE STRAIGHT HOURS of music, with maybe 40-minutes and a combined total of eight songs that were previously familiar to me.

The recording is a bit of a mixed bag. I imagine it’s tricky to mix so many musicians — and so many VOICES — on the stage, and Lee’s Palace did a stellar but ultimately imperfect job. Also, for some reason, the recording turned out exceptionally bass-heavy (a problem I’ve had at Lee’s Palace the last few visits I’ve made). I tried to bring it down during post-production EQing, but I didn’t want to take it down so far it sucked the tone out of the acoustic guitars — so expect the songs with the upright bass to sound a bit boomier than the ones without — especially if you’re rocking a sub-woofer. The biggest, most annoying flaw (in my opinion) is that I seemed to have the right microphone pointed in an awkward direction. So awkward, that it picked up my breathing during the quieter moments. Expect to hear the whooshing of my breath in the right channel during pretty much all banter tracks and some of the quieter numbers. Aye aye aye.

Anyway, I guess it’s too late to say this is a show you cannot miss seeing in person. My son was only two weeks old at the time, and the daunting task of trying to navigate fatherhood with transferring, EQing, splitting and uploading two versions of a three-hour recording (FLAC and MP3) was beyond daunting. So, here it is, almost eleven months later. Give it a listen, and maybe you can catch the Revival Tour next time Ragan and his band of Merry Men head out onto the road. There’s a lot of great stuff here, and I can’t imagine anyone not being able to find SOMETHING to love.

SET ONE
[Ensemble]

01. On The Bow *
02. Nomad By Fate *
03. Start & Stop #
04. White Daisy Passing ^
05. Prauge %

SET TWO
[Toh Kay]

06. We Will Fall Together
07. Watch It Crash
08. Somewhere In Between
09. A Moment of Silence
10. Would You Be Impressed
11. [banter]
12. With Any Sort Of Certainty
13. [banter]
14. A Better Place, A Better Time
15. [banter]

SET THREE
[Jenny Owen Youngs]

16. Your Apartment
17. [banter]
18. Love For Long
19. [banter]
20. Already Gone
21. [banter]
22. Ring of Fire [Cash]
23. [banter]
24. Clean Break
25. [banter]
26. Pirates

SET FOUR
[Rocky Votolato]

27. Tinfoil Hats
28. Portland Is Leaving
29. Little Spring
30. [banter]
31. Fool’s Gold
32. [banter]
33. Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright [Bob Dylan]
34. Suicide Medicine

SET FIVE
[Dave Hause]

35. Heavy Heart
36. [banter]
37. Autism Vaccine Blues
38. [banter]
39. Pretty Good Year
40. [banter]
41. Time Will Tell
42. [banter]
43. C’mon Kid
44. [banter]
45. The Shine
46. Worry [Northcote]

SET SIX
[Chuck Ragan]

47. For Broken Ears
48. You Get What You Give
49. Let It Rain
50. Cut ‘Em Down
51. Nothing Left To Prove
52. Field Holler
53. Wish On The Moon
54. [banter]
55. Bottom of a Well [performed by Chuck Coles]
56. California Burritos
57. The Boat

ENCORE
[ensemble]

58. [instrumental / banter]
59. The Big Sleep $
60. The Bridge %
61. Last Person #
62. Red River ^
63. Meet You In The Middle *
64. Revival Road *


* Chuck Ragan
# Jenny Owen Youngs
^ Rocky Votolato
% Dave Hause
$ Toh Kay

info.txt // flac fingerprint ]
[ Request FLAC or MP3 Download ]

Somewhere In Between (Toh Kay) (Live In Toronto) [MP3 sample]
Your Apartment (Jenny Owen Youngs) (Live In Toronto) [MP3 sample]
Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright (Rocky Votolato) (Live In Toronto) [MP3 sample]
C’mon Kid (Dave Hause) [MP3 sample] (Live In Toronto) [MP3 sample]
You Get What You Give (Chuck Ragan) (Live In Toronto) [MP3 sample]


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