“We’d like to model ourselves after Ben Harper,” says Revivalists’ drummer Andrew Campanelli. “He’s in the jam scene, but he doesn’t do 30-minute jams, and he writes well-written songs that are appreciated by different crowds. He can play Bonnaroo and Voodoo.” While many of New Orleans’ young rock bands are comprised of college students, most that jam follow the jazz/funk branch of the family tree. The Revivalists are one of the few that play the Widespread Panic-influenced music associated with university life.
Between singer David Shaw’s soul-influenced vocals and the band’s flirtations with jazz and funk grooves, the Revivalists are already winning over fans. “We play on the influence of being from New Orleans a lot more than some other local indie bands,” says Campanelli. “We definitely dig the Maple Leaf scene with bands like Papa Grows Funk,” adds guitarist Zack Feinberg. The New Orleans influence has struck a chord with local listeners as the Revivalists have recently released their debut self-titled EP, played the inaugural NOLA Indie Rock Fest, have two tracks in the indie compilation Rock Beats Paper and are in regular rotation on WWOZ—no small feat for a band that played its first gig only a year ago.
The New Orleans-centric mentality goes beyond the band’s music. “We’re not going to try to go out and play L.A.,” says Campanelli. “We want to expand our fan base through the South organically, with New Orleans as the epicenter and branching out from there.” The branching out process starts at home for the Revivalists; they are playing at JB’s in Metairie on November 14. While a New Orleans band expanding a couple of miles to Metairie may not seem noteworthy, it is a small but necessary step for a band that looks to graduate from their college-rock beginnings to a wider audience—one with fewer tie-dyed shirts.