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The Core: The Revivalists’ David Shaw

Mike Greenhaus | June 23, 2018

David Shaw, frontman for New Orleans rockers The Revivalists, waxes poetic on jam scene camaraderie, the civic benefits of festivals and a fortuitous game of ping-pong with Ellen.


Coming up through the festival world during the past few years, we’ve been something of the underdogs on the road among all of our musical heroes, and the title of our last record [2015’s Men Amongst Mountains] speaks to that. We actually like being the underdogs; there’s a nice energy that goes along with it, getting rooted for as the new guys on the block coming onto the scene. “Men Amongst Mountains” was birthed out of that spirit. We wrote that song in Colorado and it was cool to have that Colorado vibe running through it.

All of the bigger marquee acts have always been really nice; there’s a lot of camaraderie on the scene. We’re always down with a sit-in—there’s this sense of danger that it can fall apart that creates this incredible energy. Warren Haynes came and played with us at our Jazz Fest late-night show, and we did “Gimme Shelter,” which is among my favorite sit-ins ever. Warren’s not just an amazing musician but also an amazing soul. I also always love it when Brandon Niederauer [Taz] joins us, and there was the time when Robert Randolph jammed with us in Indianapolis, which may be my favorite sit-in.


We all come from very different places musically—I come from a straight rock-and-roll background—and ended up in the jamband scene organically. We were always about the song, but when we first started playing as a band, to make ends meet, we would play these marathon shows for four or five hours. We only had 10 songs so we thought, “How long can we stretch this thing?” New Orleans has always been our home so we want to continue to spread that culture—I look at people like Preservation Hall’s Ben Jaffe, who acts as a musical ambassador for the city and has brought in people like Arcade Fire. We also never had a stock rock lineup, and I think we are introducing something different to people who might not necessarily be familiar with our instrumentation. At least a few times a year someone will say to me: “Man, that guy really kills it on the keyboard,” and I’ll say, “It’s a pedal steel, but thank you for the compliment.” So I’m super grateful for the jam community—those fans know all our musical idiosyncrasies and come back night after night.