Show Review: Dustbowl Revival Keeps Them Vital at the Hamilton in DC

Show Reviews

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Last week at the opulent Hamilton Theater in Washington D.C, Dustbowl Revival put on a heck of a performance.  Dustbowl Revival is an eight member band, so when they stroll out onstage you expect it’s going to be a super sonic event, and you won’t be disappointed.  They got straight to work and opened with the bursting out “Honey I Love You” from their recent album Dustbowl Revival (Signature Sounds) (where they did a version with Keb Mo.)  This night’s rendition highlighted Matt Rubin on trumpet and Ulf Bjorlin on trombone in a wild but studied interplay, while Liz Beebe and Zach Lupetin, on his acoustic guitar, belted out the song.   In the mix, you would have sworn you could hear organ, and only later, when I talked to Zach Lupetin for our forthcoming interview, did I learn these sounds were coming from Connor Vance on violin. By the time they finished the third song, “Gonna Fix You,” a huge portion of the crowd at the sometimes-sedate Hamilton was up on their feet.  The band played “Busted” all acoustic, with Daniel Mark on mandolin playing off of Vance, and with the crowd singing along: “you think you got something but you don’t have nothing if you don’t got me.”

The band has the honed ability to turn songs into jam songs and allow each member and each instrument to really shine through, truly stand out, and matter. “Good Egg” had the crowd dancing in unison and then the room was treated to a lot more stunning violin, and by the time they got to “Debtor’s Prison” the harmonies were breathtaking and they held their notes so long at the end, the crowd erupted into cheering jubilation.   So after all that, when they started in with Supertramp’s “Breakfast in America,” the whole room was erupted, participating in the jam band dance extravaganza, and the band sounded like an old ragtime jazz hall band, with violin solos and both horns playing wildly.  And we all felt like we were really part of a revival.

By the way, when was the last time you heard wild trombone playing in am Americana rock-based jam band?  To Dustbowl Revival, this sound is a vital part of the overall style.

After whipping everyone into a frenzy, they took things down a notch with a very soulful “Standing Next To Me.”  There wer several more from the new album including “Got Over,” with Beebe on ukelele, and then on “One More Chance to Do Me Right,” again with the interplay between Rubin and Bjorlin on horns and trombone with the funky keyboard and wah-wah sounds from the violin and people were at one with the band.  Drummer Joshlyn Heffernan and bassist James Klopfleisch  held down the groove throughout.  The night closed with a wild rendition of the Stones’ “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” jam style, going into complex instrumental interplay and then coming back into the song to end.  Something really magical is afoot with this band, and you should really put them on your list.  Check out Dustbowl Revival’s tour dates, and merch, here.

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