It's that time of year again when Chuck Ragan rounds up some of the best folk acts that he knows and tours them around the world on the Revival Tour. The Hot Water Music frontman aims to take music back to its roots, and unite folk and rock fans around the globe with raw stripped back music.
Unfortunately this tour is being held in slightly smaller venues then last year, but again the artists this time are more unknown (last year saw the front guys from Gaslight Anthem, Alkaline Trio and The Loved Ones grace the tour). This does not at all affect the quality of music; in fact I would rate it slightly higher than last year's. This tour is a great way to find out new music and witness some top musicians taking to the stage in a nonstop cycle of performing.
We get to the Stylus venue and see it has been moved to the Mine Bar in the same building, to be fair this is a much more cosy and fitting setting for this show. All the musicians are on stage at first, as is the Revival way. It's then the turn of each performer to get up and play their own set, but as always other members of the tour join them to help out throughout all the sets, like a revolving door of talent.
Local lad Jimmy Islip pops up to do a couple of songs first, as he did last year, but not at all dates of the tour. '1990' is a song that resonates with a lot of us 80s kids. That Fucking Tank drummer and Magnificent frontman goes down quite well, helped by the fact that he's "from Armley".
Cory Branan is up next, with some really emotional tracks delivered with a dry husky voice. 'The Corner' is a beautiful guitar and vocal mixture with true story like lyrics. 'The Prettiest Waitress In Memphis' is a more country style track with an upbeat tempo.
He's followed by Emily Barker, and the petite lady takes to the stage like a duck to water. Formally of chamber-folk trio The Red Clay Halo, she plays tracks like 'This Is How It's Meant To Be' and 'Blackbird'. Stunning vocals and guitar playing.
Jay Malinowski is of the band Bedouin Soundclash, and is supported at times by a small string section. They cover Patrick Krief's 'Forever, Goodnight', and lay other bittersweet tracks, a world away from what his Canadian Reggae band normally play.
Rocky Votolato (the best name on the bill!) hails from Dallas, Texas. He plays 'Red River' with Chuck and Jon Gaunt, plus there's help from members of the tour in the shadows, Joe Ginsberg on upright bass and The Dead Coast playing more of the string section. Songs like 'White Daisy Passing' bring comparisons with Lou Barlows solo stuff.
Chuck finishes the show with a collection of his songs, plus 'The Boat'. He is joined for one by Helen Chambers who is not listed on the bill but has been a part of the tour in the past. 'Nothing Left To Prove', 'Rotterdam', 'Valentine' and 'Let It Rain' are among the set of songs delivered by the man who puts all this together every year. There's no mistaking that whiskey raw voice. playing guitar and harmonica in parts (plus a wee stint on the double bass before his set), this man is just pure talent. A HWM song thrown in would have been great, but then again why should he as he has three corking solo albums under his belt.
The last show of the UK leg of the tour comes to an end with the whole troop fitting onto the tiny stage to belt out a range of soaring harmonies to a vocal only song. The stripped back power of these musicians just can't help but lure you in and keep you there. Chuck has really come up with a great way of getting people to find new music by taking it right back to the beginning. Heres to next year's tour.