Jamestown Revival at Belly Up

On the heels of their latest album Young Man Jamestown Revival played a two night stand at the Belly Up.  The audience had no issue with the band running through the new album top to bottom. 

Filling the stage with eight musicians the Texas-born California-based band evoked a sound that traces back to Hot Tuna, acoustic Dead, countrified Jerry Garcia, with dollops of David Bromberg, Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt sprinkled in. 

The band is actually the duo of Zach Chance and Jonathan Clay, and the second half of their band name is an homage to CCR. (Another clue to their awareness of their excellent roots, their walk-on song was “Black Water”). On the current tour, the pair brought in some ace musicians: Ed Benrock (drums/percussion), Nick Bearden (bass); Robert Ellis (guitars, keys, background vocals and producer of the new album), Ross Holmes (fiddle), Will Van Horn (pedal steel) and Dan Reckard (keys, accordion).

After a series of more pumped up album releases, Jamestown Revival recently eschewed electric instruments and did a Workingman’s Dead pivot for the new album. 

A slower pace and solid harmonies blend with many fretted instruments, and a steel guitar. 

The first song of the evening (and the lead track of the new album) was “Coyote.” Although lyrically not very complex, the composition unfolds like the sunset over the high desert. “One Step Forward” and “Slow It Down” paired nicely live, as they do midway through the new album. “Way It Was” was written reflectively about a disappearing Austin, where friendly nightclubs are giving way to shiny high rise condos. 

The album closer “Working on Love” was a somewhat unexpected addition to the album. Working on love is like working on the land, both take all sorts of attention. 

Chance said they had never before performed a whole album all the way through live, and the band seemed genuinely pleased to present their latest work intact. Who says the album is dead?

Jamestown Revival would have been right at home playing the Palomino in North Hollywood when Gram Parsons was carving his place in American music. But Jamestown Revival is not set in amber, theirs is a freshness in an often fuzzy genre.

photos by Brad Auerbach

Brad Auerbach has been a journalist and editor covering the media, entertainment, travel and technology scene for many years. He has written for Forbes, Time Out London, SPIN, Village Voice, LA Weekly and early in his career won a New York State College Journalism Award.