No Division: Chuck Ragan on The Revival Tour
When folks have asked what The Revival Tour is all about, I’ve always answered that it was “an old way of sharing folk music.” I still stand by that but the more I see and hear what we’ve done and how we’re doing it, the more I’ve felt these people coming aboard are breathing a new life into an age old concept.
When we set out to do this tour, we wanted to make it an annual and international event but we weren’t sure how the crowd would accept it or how the artists and crew would accept it. It was after the first few songs into the first set that we realised that it was something worth sacrificing for. The Revival Tour in its 5th year has hosted well over 50 artists in over 175 gigs, through multiple countries totalling over 600 hours of live music and storytelling. It’s a movement that we believe in and that carries a pure and simple passion for sharing songs in a grassroots fashion.
There are many special elements about RT but one of the most special is the uniqueness each performance brings. When the hour comes, the entire cast takes the stage together for the welcoming set. This is the most important part of the evening. No matter whom you came to see, you will see them immediately. That’s why it’s important to be there as the doors open! Otherwise you most likely will miss something special.
We take this action for a few reasons; firstly, to unify the cast immediately from the get go and disrupt any sense of hierarchy, so to speak. It’s more fun and exciting when egos do not exist. Most importantly, it immediately bonds the entire crowd and cast. In an instant, we all realise why we’re there and find a moment in time where we leave our troubles at the door to find something in common with strangers.
From the top, we play and sing together, showcasing a song from each artist’s catalogue that’s on the bill that evening. There’re usually 5-6 artists as well as back-up accompaniment of fiddles, upright bass, mandolins, banjos and more. After this, most will peel off to spotlight one of the artists aboard who’ll present their own works. When coming to the end of their time, a second artist will enter to collaborate with the first. After this, the first artist will exit while the second remains to spotlight their own material, leaving us all with a seamless transition. The evening commences in this way with endless possibilities as to who may enter the stage next. We often have special guests appear unexpectedly, both to the crowd as well as the cast! You simply never know what to expect. What stays consistent is the constant music, storytelling, seamless transitions and unique stimulation through song, in a way that you won’t find on many other tours. After each artist has done their due diligence, everyone joins together again for a send off set. The Revival Tour normally rolls about three ours straight, sometimes scripted, sometimes not. Always staying up, interesting and new.
Revival is always different, always a learning experience and always exhilarating. Which is one reason why I think the energy carries over so well to the audience. I personally have no care whatsoever to go see any performance that isn’t given to me with full conviction, passion and dedication. I’d rather stay home if that were the case. We believe in giving the folks that support these events a night to remember and a truly unique one at that.