November 11, 2019
I’m not sure who books the artists to play Selby Town Hall but they deserve a Knighthood. I live near a small, busy and slightly neglected former mining town in the North of England. Miraculously, a procession of exotic Americana heroes whose music you’ve loved for some time, keep turning up to play a small but beautiful 19th Century theatre (that’s always sold out). Amazing.
The latest treat is California’s roots purveyors The Dustbowl Revival. On night 28 of a 29 gig tour of Germany, Holland, Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, Spain and the UK they alighted at Selby. This seven piece hit the stage promising some “California sunshine”. We needed it: 20 miles south over 3 inches of rain had fallen in the previous 24 hours; flooding was happening.
To forget our ‘biblical’ rain the band played a selection of songs from their 2017 eponymous album, classic covers and a couple of tracks off the upcoming January 2020 album. Vocal duties were shared between the main man and acoustic guitar player Z. Lupetin and Liz Beebe. Both led the band well and were superbly backed by trumpet and trombone. Both gave the music a selection of feels from Tex-Mex, Dixieland to Muscle Shoals and always good time and energetic. The rhythm section of drums or bass laid down a funky groove and Connor Vance could extracted great sounds on electric guitar or violin even when strummed!
“Honey I Love You” a soulful pop tune kicked off the show. Beebe and Lupetin shared the vocal over the horns. As the song came toward an end Matt Rubin cut loose with a jazz solo. More blue-eyed soul followed with “Debtors Prison”. This was a laid back song. As enjoyable as this was the band suddenly changed gear and a raucous cover of The Band followed with “Don’t Do It”. This was more like it! The brilliant chorus with the troupe animated indicated that they had warmed up and we were off…
Through the remaining 10 songs the trombone growled, the trumpet soared, the violin switched between bluegrass to Flamenco and they really started to cook. Sadly the audience didn’t! I’ve been at the venue before whilst other acts have been dismantled by the lack of audience engagement but Lupetin wasn’t daunted: he had Plan B. He couldn’t get them dancing in the aisles but “Good Egg” with a rousing ‘woo hoo’ chorus with arms punching in the air, whilst sat, was accepted by the audience as a compromise. “Sonic Boom” from the future album was a highlight and Supertramp’s “Breakfast In America” was one of those ‘wtf’ moments. This funk soul and acoustic version enabled the band to take solos before coming back to the tune. A surprising delight.
Sadly it was quickly over and they launched into the third cover of the night – The Band’s “The Weight”. An encore saw the band return and do a sedentary gentle acoustic song with the audience joining them on the chorus. I think they’ll be glad to be heading home but they’ve made a lot of friends in Europe and I’ll be in the queue for the new album.