The Dustbowl Revival throws a raucous, Depression-era party filled with horns, violins, washboards and lively drinkin’ songs on its latest album, “With A Lampshade On”, that won’t stop till all the whiskey has run dry.
The Los Angeles nine-piece is a kinetic live band that mixes influences of Dixieland jazz, New Orleans swing, bluegrass, folk and pre-war blues into an enticing mash that is distilled in the bands’ modern sensibilities and served straight to audiences with a traveling medicine show’s flair.
The band is best in a live setting where it can whip audiences into whirling dervishes of sweat and limbs, which is why “With A Lampshade On” is such a fantastic representation of this band. The songs on the record are a combination of cuts taken from shows at the Troubador in L.A. and the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco, and songs recorded live in the studio with everyone playing together at once in their energetic glory.
The effort to catch the Dustbowl Revival in all of its convivial essence pays-off splendidly, and when you put the record on, you are immediately swept into the juke joint on “Lampshade On,” a ruckus ode to drunken escapades. The brass and drums rattle off one another joyfully at a tempo seen in most bluegrass breakdowns and the call and response of the charismatic duo of Zach Lupetin and Liz Beebe brings you to the front row of the crowd.
The music of The Dustbowl Revival has its roots in American culture before the advent of recorded music, and even radio to some extent. The original version of live entertainment gets a super-charged injection of modern tenacity and ingenuity in the care of Lupetin, Beebe and company.
“Old Joe Clark” is a full-blown hoedown with mandolin and fiddle solos from Daniel Mark and Connor Vance that is bolstered by the brass of Matt Rubin and Ulf Bjorlin on trumpet and trombone. “Ain’t My Fault” is a New Orleans jazz-boogie that gets all players and instruments involved in the two-line jam, including a tambourine solo.
From the saloon-swing of “Drop In The Bucket” to the gritty, noir-waltz of “Bright Lights.” The Dustbowl Revival touches upon a lot of moods and sounds on this record, but the band members’ unrelenting energy keeps the music tight and fresh. Their energy also helps to spur the yelps and cheers of the audience in the live tracks, which adds a nice, unruly ambiance to the album. Where intermixing studio and live cuts usually doesn’t turn out well for an album, the choice to do so with “Lampshade On” allows you to smell the whiskey on Lupetin’s voice.
There could certainly be proclivity for the band to just turn up the volume on old-time standards and let it fly, which they do tremendously well and with great polish, but “Lampshade On” proves the Dustbowl Revival are not defined by music caught between the two World Wars. The brawny, full pipes of Beebe are given ample space to wow on “Feels Good,” which bounces with rootsy soul. The Lupetin-led “Hey Baby” is caught in a funky blues-swing filled with a chorus of “Hey’s” and a wah-wah fiddle rhythm.
“Lampshade On” captures The Dustbowl Revival doing what it does best-entertaining crowds with the dance music of generations past. Consider this album to be an open invitation to join the party next time it comes to town, because like this album, you won’t want to miss it. They last played at Crystal Bay Casino in May. It plays Aug. 6 at the Sands Regency Farmers Market, the Center for the Arts in Grass Valley on Aug. 7 and Oct. 24 at Hangtown Halloween in Placerville.
- Dustbowl Revival
“With A Lampshade On”
Release: July 24, 2015
Notable Tracks: “Lampshade On,” “Feels Good,” “Ain’t My Fault”
Label: Signature Sounds Recordings