Revivalists return to Tipitina’s

Ben Shooter, Associate Arcade Editor

This weekend, nationally popular New Orleans rock group The Revivalists will be returning to its roots with not one, but two performances at Tipitina’s. Friday and Saturday night will be a sort of homecoming for the band, having returned from a tour to promote its most recent album “Men Against Mountains,” which was released in July.  

For the septet, which heavily incorporates pedal-steel guitar, horns and keyboards alongside the rock staples of guitar, bass and drums, the new 14-song album is a major step forward, but also a return to a more straightforward approach.

“It’s sort of more back to basics in some ways, compared to the albums we’ve done beforehand, where we did a lot more kind of messing around, like studio trickery,” saxophonist Rob Ingraham said. “I think there’s a lot more space, kind of a lot more depth to it.”

The album contains a diverse mix of sounds ― the band transitions fluidly between smooth, poppy funk on tracks like “Wish I Knew You,” to epic-sounding guitar solos and horn lines on uptempo jams like, “All In The Family,” to slow, moving pedal-steel guitar ballads like, “It Was A Sin.” Songs like “Stand Up” evoke equal parts Grateful Dead and Portugal. The Man with their catchy and dance-ready rhythms. What is particularly striking about the album is that, despite having seven people in the band, none of the songs feel oversaturated or overly arranged. Yes, there are plenty of soaring solos, heavy horn riffs, and bombastic choruses, but the band members are able to back off and strip down when it better serves the song.  

“In terms of a step in growth and maturity, I think that was kind of a huge thing for us to be able to say, ‘you know, we don’t all need to be all going at all times’,” Ingraham said. “To be able to step back and say, ‘maybe the best thing I can do for this recording is nothing’. I think that’s something that maybe we wouldn’t have been able to do like three or four years ago.”

The members of The Revivalists are hardly strangers to the Tipitina’s stage ― they initially developed their sound playing gigs like Tipitina’s “Homegrown Night” shows, and Tulane’s Crawfest. In fact, both Tipitina’s and Tulane University played a part in bringing the band together.  

“Individually none of us are natives to the city. Three of us are Tulane alumni, three of us through Loyola, and then Dave went to Ohio State and came down a little bit after Katrina,” Ingraham said. “We also sort of met through random different things, like I knew Zach from doing music and psychology at Tulane.”

The New Orleans music scene has hugely supported The Revivalists since they began.  

“It’s the best place in the world to try and build a career as a musician,” Ingraham said. “Some of the most illustrious musicians in the city are also some of the most accessible and the ones who are the most willing to try to elevate young musicians and try to inspire and encourage.”

Of course, all this means that the shows this weekend are especially important for the band, and audiences should expect particularly passionate and unique performances.

“It’s going to be a very special show ― it’s always special whenever we play in New Orleans,” Ingraham said. “We did a few songs in tribute to Prince over Halloween, so we might be bringing back some of that. Also I think maybe we were planning on recording it possibly for some kind of release maybe?”