The Last Revel: Rebellious Rock Meets a Front-Porch Feel
The trio known as The Last Revel bills their music as "front porch Americana," and the metaphor is an apt one--laid back and homey with friends stopping by. Refreshing harmonies combined with sharp musicianship. But lest you think they're all tame and leisurely, check out this paragraph from their online bio:
"The Last Revel honed their style at a weekly open mic night at a dive bar in Southern Minnesota. Their performance spread by word of mouth until the bar was at maximum capacity every Thursday. When the dance floor was full, folks danced on tables. The Last Revel strives for such wild performances at every show."
Their disarming lyrics range from "Garage Sale" on their newest self-titled album--"Garage sale / The check's in the mail / And I'm just a-chasin' my own tail / Garage sale / The check's in the mail..."--to the dark and reflective cut "Take It or Leave It": "Just looking for gold / And wearing down souls / Until we're buried under a stone / Take it or leave it / The feeling remains..."
One reviewer says "The Last Revel blurs the distinction between folk and rock," and the band agrees. Their website describes them as having "a backbone of rebellious rock attitude and raw traditional instrumentation; band members pride themselves on an unrelenting work ethic and a deep hunger to write, perform, and entertain."
But the rebels' revel is never far from its softer side. As member Ryan Acker (vocals, guitar, banjo) puts it, "I think the renaissance of bluegrass/fok that's come out of the Midwest in recent years is partially because of the roots music genres' overall emphasis on community rather than celebrity.
Folk songs have historically been a celebration of the story and the group of musicians coming together to play, instead of a particular performer. I think that is a value that many people in the Midwest hold about their own ways of life. Generally, I think people are really proud of their communities and cherish their groups of friends and families. And I think that translates into a strong foundation of a local folk music scene."
Multi-instrumentalist Lee Henke (vocals, guitar, banjo, harmonica, stand-up bass) adds,
"We're three guys trying to fill as many shoes as possible. Vinnie's [Vinnie Donatelle, on vocals, fiddle, and stand-up bass] style of bass playing is more similar to rockabilly which is very percussive, and with my kick drum we have a solid rhythm section. Then, we choose the best instruments to fill up the rest of the register. I should also mention that we tend to lack finesse especially when we are really getting into a song. Simply said, we play very hard and make sure we are playing the right instruments to serve the song."
The band says they're "beyond excited" to be headed for Beartrap after a rapid and percussive swing through Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, and Missouri.
And if Beartrap's dancing area gets too crowded for your taste, you're welcome to bring your own table.