MUSIC BOX: Revival stirs songwriter melting pot

By on April 9, 2013


Revival stirs songwriter melting pot

Photo Cutline: Tim McIlrath is one of five songwriters on The Revival Tour; Andy Hackbarth Band enters the Black Box. Photo Credit: Courtesy Tim McIlrath

Photo Cutline: Tim McIlrath is one of five songwriters on The Revival Tour; Andy Hackbarth Band enters the Black Box.
Photo Credit: Courtesy Tim McIlrath

The story of a song can arrive in countless ways. Yet none is as exposed, truth-telling or naked as a singer-songwriter performing alone with an instrument and voice. This is especially true when it comes to mixing an entourage of indie, punk and Americana musicians that are solo artists and band leaders in their usual roles. The Revival Tour fosters a rich folk tradition by assembling a collective to perform alone and with fellow tour mates.

“There’s not a hierarchy with this tour … you check your ego and weapons at the door,” said Rise Against frontman Tim McIlrath, who is about to hop on tour this year after crashing the Revival party in his hometown of Chicago last year. “You show up, and it’s all about what you can do with a guitar and your voice, and learn what other people are doing and learn from one another. It’s very communal.”

McIlrath continues, “As opposed to other tours where there’s openers, a headliner, etc., everyone is on call all of the time to participate. So in that sense, it’s like a theatrical performance. I would admit that it’s out of my comfort zone. But that’s one of the reasons I’m doing this.”

The Revival Tour includes up to a dozen singer-songwriters that weave in and out throughout the tour, while some are on board for the entire run. This tour marks the sixth year of the much-celebrated camaraderie and the collaborations that are bred from maintaining an open mind and a front porch vibe. Along with McIlrath, the Jackson audience will see Dave Hause (of Loved Ones), L.A.’s Jenny O., Seattle-based Rocky Votolato, and Americana artist and original tour organizer Chuck Ragan. All of these performers have established careers and followings of their own, and have very different approaches from one another.

“Some of us have been on the road together before and have known each other for years,” McIlrath said. “So it’s a small world. We’re buds. And I’m looking forward to jumping on the tour, lending a hand, and meeting the rest of the musicians.”

Revival Tour concerts often kick off with all of the musicians on stage. What happens after that changes from night to night, sometimes even working out arrangements backstage or on the fly, matching the ever-changing physical landscape on and off stage. The tour is rolling through an exhaustive 39 straight days of shows, reaching Jackson on day 30. Check out a documentary about last year’s Revival Tour at

What else ya gonna do on a Monday in mid-April?

The Revival Tour, 9 p.m. on Monday at the Pink Garter Theatre. Tickets are $18/advance, $20/day-of-show at The Rose, Pinky G’s, and


Hackbarth in the Black Box

In smooth fashion, pop-folk singer songwriter Andy Hackbarth embraces a Jason Mraz meets Rodrigo y Gabriella vibe, with the mainstream country elements of Nashville on the back burner. Until you take it in piecemeal, it’s a head-scratching mix. Virtuosic Spanish/flamenco guitar selections are slotted next to award-winning songwriting (he was a finalist in three major international competitions including the Billboard Songwriting Competition, and received a “Denver Songwriter of the Year” nomination via Denver’s Westword. Hackbarth has a tailor-made sound for mainstream radio, with some videos that are CMT-worthy.

Andy Hackbarth Band, 5 p.m. on Sunday in the Black Box Theater at the Center for the Arts. $10/adults, $5/students at the door.

About Aaron Davis

Aaron Davis is a decade-long writer of Music Box, a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, member of Screen Door Porch and Boondocks, founder/host of Songwriter’s Alley, and co-founder of The WYOmericana Caravan.

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