Built with a more curatorial approach than most, Savannah’s Revival Fest is as much about developing a cohesive experience – an exercise in vibe development – as it is booking bands. Each element – the venue, the ancillary vendor and food participants and, yes, the bands – are carefully considered as part of a larger festival puzzle.
Started in 2013, Revival acts have included lauded artists such as Margo Price, Sturgill Simpson, Future Birds, Southern Culture On the Skids and Parker Milsap. Although Revival took a break last year, this year’s line-up, which includes national, regional and Savannah acts, is particularly strong.
In addition to the bands, food and drinks will be available from the Big Cheese, Squeaky Beaver, Molly McPherson’s and King of Pops food trucks. There will also be a variety of local breweries represented and cocktails – including Bourbon Sno-Cones, a Hunter Thompson favorite – curated by the Lone Wolf Lounge.
This year’s line-up includes:
Blitzen Trapper – This Portland, Oregon-based combo has established a large and enthusiastic fan base attracted to its unique amalgamation of classic country, folk, rock and indie elements. The result is music that encourages equal parts rock bobbing heads and thoughtful introspection. The band’s Revival stop will be in support of its upcoming album Wild and Reckless, due in early November.
Big Sam’s Funky Nation – Mirroring the city it calls home, this New Orleans act is a very intentional gumbo if musical influences. Equal parts New Orleans jazz, Southern-style hip-hop, deep funk and the psychedelic swirl of jam band rock and roll, the Funky Nation is a band of Louisiana all-stars, fronted by former Dirty Dozen trombonist Sammie ‘Big Sam’ Williams.
Ruby Velle and the Soulphonics – A true blue soul revue, in the style of Stax-era Otis, the late and great Sharon Jones and the Godfather himself, this Atlanta-based act effortlessly swerves and sways between bluesy ballads, up-tempo soul and southern funk designed to put some bump in all trunks.
Ranky Tanky – Inspired by the styles and sounds of coastal South Carolina’s Gullah culture, Ranky Tanky – which loosely translates as Get Funky – injects a decidedly jazzy approach to the shouts, game songs, spirituals and lullabies often associated with Gullah music. The result is a sound that is once familiar and accessible while remaining uniquely its own.
Hardy & the Hardknocks – An influences-on-his-sleeve artist, T. Hardy Morris – late of Dead Confederate and Diamond Rugs – makes intimate rock records that still manage to adrenalize, energize and, when the moment is right, explore that sprawl that not every artist can get away with. Think Nirvana on a country kick or Gram Parsons fronting Black Sabbath. That will get you close.
Blackfoot Gypsies – Taking a decidedly Stones-like approach, Blackfoot Gypsies run a variety of traditional musical forms – blues and classic rock most prominently – through the filter of their own boogie-based swagger. The result is a musical mash-up that feels at once perfectly polished and still straight out of Garageland.
Cale Tyson – While it’s easy to quick file this Texas troubadour as the latest in a long line of country outlaws, the truth is much more complicated. While it is true that his songs draw heavily from the classics of Waylon, Willie and the like, his is a distinctively 21st century take on the style. The result is soulful, rocking when required and youthful in a way many of his forbears miss.
The Trainwrecks – Rock and roll down from the mountains. Bluegrass blasted over a muscle car’s AM radio. The Trainwrecks produce music that feels both traditional while thumbing its nose at convention. Long-considered one of Savannah’s hardest working bands, this hometown set in front of fans already enthusiastic should prove something of a roof-raiser.
Caleb Caudle – Part of the Americana wave that produced artists such as Margo Price and Jason Isbell, North Carolina artist Caleb Caudle writes sort of sepia-toned love-lost-and-found tunes that made artists such as George Jones and Merle Haggard music legends. Real lean back and listen music.
Bottles and Cans – While often filed under blues, the truth is Savannah’s Bottles and Cans are something more exploratory. The band’s mission certainly takes it into bluesy territory, but the truth is this music is more about exploring and, more importantly, expanding upon, all manner of traditional American music forms.
Sweet Thunder Strolling Band – Take a walk. This loose confederation of Savannah artists like taking their music on the road – or sidewalk as the case may be. If environment informs performance, there’s no telling what a quick ramble with this stroll-and-play combo might mean.