DAVID SHAW’S BIG RIVER GET DOWN
featuring THE REVIVALISTS with Special Guests
THE MAIN SQUEEZE, MAGGIE KOERNER, THE HEARD, and ELEMENTREE LIVITY PROJECT
Photos by Brian Glass • Review By Barry Brandow
Almost every kid dreams of making it big, becoming famous and returning to their hometown to a hero’s welcome. I know I did. Most of the kids I hung out with always did. The stories and scenarios we’d tell were endless. I didn’t know David Shaw when he was a kid growing up in the small town of Hamilton Ohio just north of Cincinnati, but I can only assume as a youngster he had those same thoughts and dreams we had as kids. I would also think it’d be safe to assume that as a young musician growing up in Hamilton, Ohio he’d ride past the local concert venues thinking “Someday I’m gonna have a kick ass band and we’re gonna fill this place” and do something really GREAT for the town where many friends and family still call home.
Now that I’ve gotten to know the tireless, compassionate musician (who now lives in New Orleans) over the past few years, I’d be willing to bet that Shaw dreamed of returning to celebrate his music back in Hamilton.
After all, he’s recently participated in many charitable events and just returned from Kenya where he worked with Knapsack Films on a project, “Trophy Games,” to raise awareness about illegal poaching and wildlife conservation. So along with seeing friends, visiting family,and enjoying some of his sweet Aunt Linda’s incredible homemade seafood gumbo, the main thought process behind
David Shaw’s Big River Get Down was to have an awesome full day of music, fun, family, and friends while raising money for the city of Hamilton– or as we liked to call it on Saturday, June 20th, 2015 “JAMilton.” The line-up included an acoustic set by David Shaw, Elementree Livity Project, Backup Planet, The Heard, Maggie Koerner. Two of my favorite bands on the scene, The Main Squeeze and The Revivalists, performed stellar sets as well.
Everyone I met from the Hamilton area was extremely nice and welcoming to me and my friends. When we told anyone that we came all the way from Philadelphia, they’d smile wide and say “Welcome to Hamilton!”
The only thing that could possibly put a damper on this perfect day would be foul weather. With talk of a “tropical depression” making its way through the area on Saturday during the concert, the event changed locations to the part of downtown covered by an overhead parking garage on Market Street. Then, waiting till the eleventh hour, the call was made to move the show back to the original location: the beautiful RiversEdge Amphitheater along the Miami River. With fingers crossed and prayers made, the hope would be that the bulk of the rain would pass early and clear up for most of the day’s festivities. Moments before the scheduled start time someone flicked the “rain switch” OFF and the sun came out with very little cloud cover. “Thank you Mother Nature.”
With ticket prices close to $50 for similar events, tickets for Big River Get Down were only $15 day of show and an even bigger value if you bought four. 12oz beers were only $4 each, and hot dogs and soda were each a dollar, with all profit and tips going towards future shows at the RiversEdge and the community. What started out looking like “Hurricane Winslow”(a Revivalists song) quickly turned into “Sunny Days”(another Revivalists song) and around 3:00 pm things got underway.
Elementree Livity Project
To start things off the band Elementree Livity Project from nearby Cincinnati took to the stage. With a loyal fan base making the trip, the talented five piece band got the progressively growing crowd primed for fun. Mostly playing music from their latest CD release, “You’re Not Ready”, the reggae rock band reminded me of another band I really like, Slightly Stoopid. While playing songs like “Steppin Out Of Babylon”, “The Change”, and “Helicopter Man” those fortunate enough to arrive early and catch this high energy set enjoyed the music while the sunshine took over. As a pleasant surprise ELP finished their set with a phenomenal reggae-like version of one of my favorite Grateful Dead songs, “Shakedown Street.”
After a slight break and equipment change the next band up, The Heard, and instrumental funk band from Chicago and friends of The Revivalists made their musical mark on the beautiful day. They exploded with powerful horn melodies by Lucas Ellman on sax, Parris Fleming on trumpet, and Bryant Smith on trombone, their sound was reminiscent of bands like Galactic, Dumpstaphunk, and Lettuce.
Completing their dynamic full sound Guitarist Taras Horalewski, keyboard player Neal O’Hara, bassist Mike Starr, and drummer PJ Howard who also offered some vocals, provided the rhythm and foundation of their high energy funk swagger.
One of the musicians I was most excited about seeing perform was dynamic singer/songwriter from Shreveport Louisiana, the beautiful Maggie Koerner. Along with friend and guitarist Georgi Petrov, the vibrant and captivating vocalist highly impressed the near capacity crowd filling the festival locale.
With her fierce but passionate voice Maggie mesmerized the crowd as they outwardly expressed their admiration during every inspiring word and note she sang. The crowd’s admiration became evident early on when she granted a loyal fans request and belted her version of Sheryl Crows “Difficult Kind” with flawless beauty. I had heard recordings before and greatly admired her talents as a singer, songwriter, and entertainer; but actually witnessing her performance live was the icing on the cake. She is truly remarkable.
About mid-set Maggie introduced friend and cowriter Andrew Campinelli to the stage to assist and harmonize on two great songs they wrote together. Andrew, who is most known for his spot behind the drum kit for The Revivalists, also played acoustic guitar while he sang with Ms. Koerner. I truly enjoyed Maggie’s commentary during her set as she took a few moments before songs to share her inspirations. She was very charismatic and endearing, even taking time after the show to take pictures backstage with a young fan that had driven a long way to see her favorite singer. It wasn’t until the final song of her set when longtime friend and front man for The Revivalists, David Shaw made his first appearance of the day and joined Maggie in a song they co-wrote for the band Galactic “Dolla Diva”. As the appreciative crowd applauded, the soulful songstress smiled bigger than the sun as she had many times throughout her performance.
The Main Squeeze
During a conversation my wife and I had with David the night before Christmas Jam we mentioned a band we were fond of named The Main Squeeze, and told him if they ever did a show together, we’d be there no matter what. I don’t know if that was any influence on his decision, but a few months later the line-up was announced and there they were. And it was thethe line-up that surely influenced us, as we bought our tickets one minute into presale.
If you’re not familiar with the band, The Main Squeeze, they are a high powered five piece funk machine that combines progressive funk style with the virtuoso musicianship of Ben ‘Smiley’ Silverstein on keyboards, Jeremiah Hunt on bass, Reuben Gingrich behind the drums, the fierce guitar work of Max Newman, and the smooth golden vocals of front man Corey Frye. As the after dinner crowd filled the grounds to capacity, the band began there set with “In A funk,” instantly grabbing everyone’s attention.
While the masses gravitated closer to the stage, RiversEdge turned into a giant funky dance party. There were several “WOW” moments during their set as each member impressed the crowd with their musical skills. I can remember the guy standing next to me asking me numerous times “Who are these guys?” Not a hard name to remember, but it’s probably safe to assume he’s had a few beers. I didn’t mind telling him till about the 20th time. This was the fourth time I’ve gotten to see The Main Squeeze, but the very first time I got to hear them play their version of the Temptations classic “Poppa was a Rolling Stone” live, which everyone at the BRGD including me absolutely loved!
Other highlights during their set were the songs “Dr Funk”, “Two Steps”, and one of my favorites ”I’ll Take Another,” which features Corey’s smooth vocals and a musical duel between Max on guitar and keyboardist ‘Smiley’ who came out from behind his set up and challenged Max mid stage with a smaller over the shoulder keyboard. The standoff lasted a few minutes and made the crowd erupt, as it had many many times.
After the set ended and the band left the stage, a chant began to encourage their return for “ONE MORE SONG!” You can see David Shaw make a quick dash behind stage and invite them to honor the enthusiastic crowd’s request, which they did! Corey thanked the audience while Max started playing an incredible version of another of my favorite Grateful Dead song, “Eyes of the World” that lasted close to ten minutes. Before they bid everyone goodbye Corey walked across the front of the rail and shook hands, high fived, and hugged the adoring fans. Like I said last time I reviewed one of their shows, this is a band all music lovers need to see live! If they’re close by, GO! If they’re playing a festival you’re attending make a point to CATCH THEIR SET!
From the “Main Squeeze” to the “Main Event.” A band that needed no introduction on this day, The Revivalists took to the stage at about 9:30pm. First as promised, a short acoustic set by the host of today’s event, David Shaw. He started his set with a beautiful song he had just recently written and was performing for the first time live. Afterward he played a melodic song from the City of Sound record called “Pretty Photograph.” Next Mr. Shaw invited fellow Revivalists bandmate, guitarist Zack Feinberg, to the stage, as well as the enchanting songstress Maggie Koerner to assist on the Bee Gees cover “To Love Somebody” while all the ladies in the crowd “woo-ed” numerous times.
After a minute or two for final preparations, the remaining members of The Revivalists joined David and Zack on the supreme RiversEdge stage. With a hugely talented cast of George Gekas on bass, Andrew Campenelli on drums, Mike Gerardot on keyboards and trumpet, Rob Ingraham on sax, and the ‘Man of Steel’ Ed Williams on pedal steel, the band busted into another song from the previously released City of Sound collection “Soul Too Loud”. The 2000 plus in attendance roared in adoration. If anyone wasn’t up and dancing by now the next song “Stand Up” gave them no choice.
As he does many times during a Revivalists show, Mr. Shaw came off the stage and became more intimate with his adoring crowd. He hugged, high fived, and serenaded those along the rail. That made my ‘front and center’ wife very happy, as it always does, especially during “Not Turn Away” when David grabbed her hand and sang. After the song “When I’m Able” the band treated everyone to the rarely heard but often sought tune “Mary Joanna” from their first EP release. The crowd favorite and multi-layered tune “Catching Fireflies” roused the already electrified “Rev Heads” in attendance.
On the brink of their next studio release “Men Amongst Mountains” due to be released on July 17th, Dave introduced the next few tunes from the new collection. If songs such as “Fade Away”, “It’s a Sin” and “Keep Going” are good examples of what the new album will sound like, then I believe it’s safe to say this new offering can be the one to catapult the New Orleans septet into the upper echelon of bands currently making music. We were again blessed by the appearance of Maggie Koerner as she sang background vocals on the song “Keep Going” like she does on the forthcoming album. The ambitious and explosive set continued with the songs “Navigate Below” and “Upright” which featured an impressive sax solo by the extremely energetic and talented Rob Ingraham.
To finish the enthusiastic set The Revs played another song from the upcoming release and played “I Wish I Knew You”. David again left the stage and got closer to the crowd that had been encouraging himthroughout the 90 minute set that played up until curfew. The show promoter addressed the crowd announcing that we had exceeded the curfew but the music must play on. The Revivalists returned to the stage and crushed versions of two of their most popular songs “Criminal” and “Soulfight” while the packed house sang along to every word! Before leaving the stage David approached the microphone one last time and thanked the adoring crowd expressing how grateful he was and hoped we’d all be back for installment number two of The Big River Get Down! Well David, like “Field Of Dreams,” If you play, we will come!
The Big River Get Down was an enormous success and I only hope lots of money was raised towards JAMiltons goal. Things looks very bright for the future of more live music events like this and the anticipated return of David Shaw’s Big River Get Down in 2016. I highly recommend any and every music lover to make the trip to this endearing town and enjoy a budget friendly day of great music for an amazing cause. For me and my group it was way more than worth the 9+ hour drive back and fourth to Philly, and we look forward to the announcement of next years event! Hope to see you too!