Monday, August 26, 2013


Reviewing The Statesboro Revue
                              Dennis and Brenda Kippa                   

                                                                            According to the on-line encyclopedia Wikipedia, the definition of Americana Music goes like this:                     Americana is an amalgam of roots musics formed by the confluence of the shared and varied traditions that make up the American musical ethos; specifically those sounds that are merged from folk, country, blues, rhythm and blues, rock and roll and other external influences.[1] Americana, as defined by the Americana Music Association (AMA), is "contemporary music that incorporates elements of various American roots music styles, including country, roots-rock, folk, bluegrass, R&B and blues, resulting in a distinctive roots-oriented sound that lives in a world apart from the pure forms of the genres upon which it may draw. While acoustic instruments are often present and vital, Americana also often uses a full electric band." Pretty technical, right?

Now if you really want to learn about Americana music, the most simple route is to listen to The Statesboro Revue's Ramble On Privlege Creek or their first CD, Different Kind Of Light. While you'll find gems on both CDs, Different Kind Of Light offers a traditional country and rock “n” roll fare, whereas Ramble On Privilege Creek offers the pure, definitive Americana music.

The Statesboro Revue is led by singer/lyricist Stewart Mann, who plays lead guitar. His younger brother is Garrett Mann, who also plays lead guitar, in addition to beautiful harmony vocals.  Ben Bradshaw lays down the baseline, while Luke “Cool Hands” Ayer lends his masterful approach to the drums. Together, the four Austin-based musicians produce something entirely fresh and soulful, and it's pure, textbook Americana. 

I believe "Ramble on Privilege Creek" will go down as the consummate Americana album in years to come. From "Fade My Shade of Black" to "Hands In the Sun" and the ten cuts in between, all are worthy of your interest. This CD belongs in your collection. In a recent article, we talked about the importance of “hooks” and “transitions” in great songs. The Statesboro Revue's music provides a perfect example of superior use of these techniques. Their lyrics tell stories that make the listener want to know the whole story. 

The CD Ramble On Privilege Creek is a nod to the grandmother and great-grandfather of Stewart and Garrett Mann. Their great-grandfather played in a band by the name of The Blue Bonnett Ramblers, while their grandmother still lives in the Texas Hill Country area known as Privilege Creek. You'll remember that Americana music is all about roots, which can also mean family. At a recent live show, the Mann brothers dedicated the whole show to the grandmother mentioned here, who had undergone surgery a few days prior. It was a very touching gesture.

After the live show that we attended, we were able to spend a few minutes talking to the band members and others who assist with their show. Everyone was down to earth, friendly, open, and they seemed genuinely interested in whatever we and other audience members had to say. Maybe that's another thing about Americana music that is rare and wonderful. Not only can we depend on seeing an energetic and totally memorable show, but we often get to meet and interact with these gifted musicians. (Who out there remembers the last time they attended a concert and got to meet the band members afterward?) 

One last item: Stewart and Garrett Mann sometimes participate in a play called “The Buddy Holly Story”, in which Stewart appears as Buddy Holly. He portrays Buddy Holly in the early years, dressed in appropriate 50's garb and playing guitar as it was done in the early Buddy Holly years. Fans who remember that period of time have been won over by this great revival play. So far, it has only been available in San Antonio; however some of Buddy Holly's music has made it's way into The Statesboro Revue's lineup on-stage.

Your assignment this week is to log into your favorite music player (ie Pandora or Spotify) and listen to Stewart Mann and The Statesboro Revue. They play over 175 dates a year so they will be at a venue near you soon.  Don't forget the albums are for sale at any of the on-line music stores and a good selection of performances from their live shows are available on-line on You Tube.

I have very little to add; I'm a huge Statesboro fan, too.  I may not be quite so certain that their music is the absolute embodiment of Americana, but I agree that years from now we will still be talking about them and there music. I'll leave that part in Dennis' capable hands. 

What I DO know is that these guys make me happy when I see them on-stage; I know that Stewart Mann can hold a note for as long as just about anyone (and he does a proud rendition of The Star Spangled Banner); and I know that if I watch Garrett Mann play his guitar, and I let my mind take me to the very best places in my memory bank, I could swear I'm seeing and hearing The Band's Rick Danko in The Last Waltz. What's not to love about that?

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