Bluegrass. Swing. Hot jazz. Pre-war blues. Southern soul. New Orleans funk. The Dustbowl Revival is what you could call an American roots orchestra with eight full-time members — and they play it all, mashing the sounds of traditional American music into a genre-hopping, time-bending dance party that coaxes new fire out of familiar coal. This isn’t a throwback band. It’s a celebration of the sounds that have kept America moving for more than a century, performed with all the flair of a medicine show and rooted in the sweat and swagger of a juke joint song swap.
Dustbowl does its best work onstage. They’ve played dive bars, saloons and theaters, front porches and festivals. To watch them onstage is to take part in an evolving conversation between an orchestra and audience. The horns blast, the fiddle and mandolin swoon, and the howling vocals — which Lupetin shares with Liz Beebe — rattle off stories about preachers, drinkers, lovers, and holy rollers. The crowd is encouraged to participate, of course…and the crowd often does during With A Lampshade On, whether it’s singing along during the call-and-response verses of 1930s drinking song “Whiskey in the Well” or shouting their approval during Beebe’s bawdy, ballsy original “Doubling Down on You.”
That unique middle ground — the place where jazz, folk, gospel and blues all intersect — is where Dustbowl shines brightest. Dustbowl Revival isn’t just paying tribute to the sounds of decades long sine past. Rather, the band is participating in the evolution of American roots music, tipping a hat to what’s come before while looking ahead to what’s on the horizon.