Dustbowl Revival, City Winery, New York

Nothin' dusty about this music

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Photos by Arnie Goodman

There aren’t many groups that could cut into a precious four-day weekend, but Dustbowl Revival makes the short list. Though there’s only one female member in this octet, nevertheless, our audience had wine, woman and song a-plenty at City Winery, New York’s only working winery.

First and foremost, Dustbowl Revival brings enough energy to the stage to power a small marching band; then they mix instruments that few groups would combine: acoustic guitar and mandolin (so far, so good), then throw in ukulele and violin with a wah-wah pedal (OK…), then a trumpet and trombone (Are you nuts?), and what have you got? Swing, New Orleans jazz, soul, blues and bluegrass…pretty much what defines American music. The thing is, they do it all so well.

Lead vocalists Liz Beebe and Zach Lupetin lead the pack like a Second Line, all energy and exuberance. Beebe pilots with heartstopping high-kicks and a kickass voice to match. Whether on close harmony on the hard-hitting funk of the opener, “Hey Baby” or the tender “Got Over” or on Beebe’s solo “Good Egg” (Whoo whoo!) and Lupetin’s heartland classic “Debtor’s Prison,” the entire band consistently delivers the goods.

Having just been to a major festival where high-profile artists spent half their set desperately trying to engage their audience (“Get up! Sing!”), how refreshing to find an audience chiming in spontaneously on choruses. The band mashed up their pounding “Busted” with a bit of the equally percussion-heavy “Summer in the City” and the well-behaved crowd paused eating and drinking for the whole song—after all, Mom told us not to sing with food in our mouth.

The pumped-up audience, unable to sit quietly, again joined in on “Cupid’s Chokehold.” If you’ve never experienced this band live, they’re a must-see. Fair warning: if you mind your manners, don’t go really hungry.

—Suzanne Cadgène

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