News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Dustbowl Revival to return to Sisters

Fan-favorite Dustbowl Revival will be returning to the Sisters stage on Friday, February 21 as the second installment of the Sisters Folk Festival Winter Concert Series.

Dustbowl Revival has always been about pushing the boundaries of what American roots music can be. In many ways, they could have continued creating joyful, booty-shaking songs and cut-to-heart folk-rock ballads that lift up their transcendent live shows — and mining new energetic material from the place where folk music, funk and soul meet.

Dustbowl Revival performed at the 2018 Sisters Folk Festival. They were one of the groups who were booked for 2017, but due to its cancellation they returned for the 2018 festival.

Zach Lupetin, who goes by “Z,” plays guitar, sings, and writes. He spoke with The Nugget about the return of the band to Sisters as well as their new record and the approach they took with it.

Lupetin moved to L.A. from Chicago because music was always an obsession of his. He couldn’t escape the love for it no matter where he was.

“I was working in advertising when I moved and I was always trying to find a way to have music take over,” said Lupetin.

While in LA, he decided to put up a hopeful Craigslist ad about starting a band because he wanted to play music with other people. He listed a bunch of genres because he wanted to be able to put genres together.

“People started coming into that musical orbit and the band was formed and evolved in sound as we started playing together more and more,” he said.

The group has been playing together for 10 years with members cycling in and out, but the core group remains.

The band’s name speaks to the type of music they tend to focus on, which is pre-war Americana sound.

“The musical palette is infinite and we wanted to go where our hearts led, musically,” he said.

Nowadays, their sound has evolved from the more traditional Americana to have an element of a funky, modern sound. One of the most iconic sounds that comes out of Dustbowl Revival is the horn section.

“We had some New Orleans music infiltrated and we wanted to harness that instrument sound,” he said.

Lupetin’s favorite role within the band is the songwriting. The band writes all of their own original lyrics and compositions. Their latest record, “Is It You, Is It Me,” expands on all of the different sounds they have explored within the band. Produced by Sam Kassirer (Lake Street Dive, Josh Ritter, David Ramirez) and engineered by Brian Joseph (Bon Iver, Local Natives, Sufjan Stevens), it represents the latest stage in a band that never stops evolving and refuses to stand still.

“The songs talk about facing fears and growing up and realizing you have to find peace in your own darkness,” said Lupetin of the song’s inspirations. “We really wanted to showcase what the band can do and we really used every part of the band — rhythm and horns, as well as just stripped-back folk songs.”

The process for the band’s writing and recording process was different than in previous records. Instead of rehearsing the songs and nailing them down before recording, the band played the songs they had written, sometimes for the first time, while recording the album.

As stated by their website: “The 13 new songs were not road-tested and tired out by the time they made it to the recording studio: in fact, Kassirer inspired the band to create the album in a two-week flash of intense creativity, with many of the songs layered and composed day-by-day in the studio. Acting like a nimble rock orchestra, each member played multiple instruments, and the group brought in new musicians on symphonic brass, and local friends to sing as a spur-of-the-moment choir.”

For Lupetin, it added a sense of excitement and intrigue to the songs.

“We were, throughout the process, wondering if we knew our own songs yet, but it gave it a sense of excitement,” he said.

The band has begun rehearsals with their new songs before heading out on the road for a tour of the new record. Lupetin looks forward to touring the new record, even though the lifestyle of a touring musician can be tough.

“Touring like we do comes down to a lifestyle choice, and it is a great job when it’s working, but it is not a simple life,” he said.

They enjoy touring the most when the band and audience are really clicking and Lupetin said, “it is like watching a machine being built right before your eyes.”

Dustbowl Revival looks forward to returning to Sisters after their 2018 Sisters Folk Festival performance.

“We love Sisters, it is a cool town that embraces all different kinds of artists and it has an open-minded festival because folk music is becoming an evolving art,” said Lupetin.

Dustbowl Revival will be performing Friday, February 21 at the Sisters High School auditorium at 7 p.m.

Tickets can still be purchased at: Festival Tickets.


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