The I-10 Connection Between Houston and The Revivalists

The Revivalists
The Revivalists Photo by Zackery Michael, courtesy of Press Here Publicity

When you live and work in New Orleans, there’s no other place in the world quite like your home and if you make your living making music that’s even truer. But, if there’s a place that comes close for the Big Easy-based rock band The Revivalists – and particularly its bassist, George Gekas – it’s Houston. We spoke with Gekas ahead of the band’s show this Friday at Revention Music Center and he rattled off a litany of Houston venues the band’s visited over the years, just like a local recalling a bunch of great nights out with good friends.

“The first time, we probably came here with Rebirth Brass Band which was a band we were fortunate enough to have mentor us and tour the country with for a couple of years. We definitely played Warehouse Live on a weekend or a weekday night some time. From there we graduated to Fitzgerald’s. We played a couple of times there and from Fitzgerald’s we went to House of Blues and now we’re going to a new venue for the first time,” Gekas said.

Gekas said the trip is overdue but comes at the right time. It’s been a couple of years, he said, since The Revivalists played here. Longtime fans and the ever-growing fan base will this time be hearing songs from the latest album, Take Good Care. The record has garnered good reviews, the sorts The Revivalists are used to, ones which focus on the musicianship of the eight-member band and the songwriting that’s driven singles like “Wish I Knew You,” “Change” and the funky rocker “All My Friends” to chart-topping status.

We wondered how the band is able to meld together so well with such a large cast and Gekas admitted, “We’re almost a baseball team. If we add another couple, we’ll have a DH in there, too.” But, the answer to our question is pretty simple, he said.

“We’re all kind of laser-focused on just trying to make and write the best songs that we can and then to try and perform them the best we can. That is the eye on the prize, I would say. It allows us to not deal with any of the noise that goes on around us or anything that could be petty or stupid that you see happen with bands sometimes that causes them to implode or not reach a level that they could have,” he noted. “We’re incredibly lucky and blessed that we’ve been able to puzzle-piece the personalities together that make it us. And that’s what I think the people have become really receptive to.”

The Revivalists, ironically, are at the forefront of yet another New Orleans music regeneration. We mentioned flourishing and exciting acts like Naughty Professor, Tank and the Bangas and Maggie Koerner and Gekas said they’re all friends.

“The musical community is very open in town, it’s never been one that has tried to pit people against each other or make it seem like a competition. It’s one of those things where if you want to learn from somebody, you can just go ask them and they’ll teach you. There’s always been kind of an understanding there’s enough to go around to feed everybody, so to speak. It’s been very fortunate for us to be able to hail from a town where there’s so much cool talent,” he said.

“We’re not exactly fighting for the same people,” he continued. “Even though we’ve played shows with all these bands, somebody who goes to see Naughty Professor headline a show wouldn’t maybe necessarily go see us headline a show. If someone were to see Maggie Koerner headline a show, they might not necessarily go see Tank headline a show. I think that’s what’s kind of cool with the melting pot of the town.”

click to enlarge Not quite a baseball team, but The Revivalists boast an impressive roster of players - PHOTO BY ZACKERY MICHAEL, COURTESY OF PRESS HERE PUBLICITY
Not quite a baseball team, but The Revivalists boast an impressive roster of players
Photo by Zackery Michael, courtesy of Press Here Publicity

Gekas shared that his wife hails from here, “so I have to like Houston,” he joked. He said he visits a few times a year, no small feat considering the band’s tour demands. This year looks to continue a widening path of success for the band. 2019 began with The Revivalists playing alongside The Killers, Muse and Weezer at iHeartRadio’s ALTer Ego concert in Los Angeles. There's a summer tour planned. Soon, they’ll tape a set for Austin City Limits, headline a stage at New Orleans Jazz Fest and perform a sold-out show at the vaunted Red Rocks Amphitheater.

Those experiences will be additions to a bunch of neat opportunities the band’s earned, chances made by their hard work and stick-to-itiveness. What’s been the coolest thing to do, we asked? Was it playing Colbert, Conan or Ellen? Was it watching its streams tally go from 100- to 200- to 300-million? Gekas said the best part of it all is something much more basic.

“The fact that we get to wake up every morning and make noise for a living is the end-all, be-all amazing thing,” he said. “Where we literally started off like four dudes in a room drinking beer and hanging out, we decided to just continue to go on and it’s just become this thing that’s way bigger than ourselves, which we’re totally grateful for and we love the fact that there have been so many people in our corner that have made it get where it’s gotten because it’s still been us making the music, it’s just more and more people have caught on.”

“We’re incredibly blessed to get to wake up and do this every day and we’re well aware of that and that goes back to what we were talking about before, about the chemistry and everybody being very focused to make sure we get to do this forever, because that’s what we want to do.”

Once George Gekas has caught up with his local family, he and fellow members of The Revivalists will once again take a Houston stage Friday, March 29 at Revention Music Center, 520 Texas. Rayland Baxter opens the show. Doors at 7 p.m., music at 8 p.m., $35.
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Jesse’s been writing for the Houston Press since 2013. His work has appeared elsewhere, notably on the desk of the English teacher of his high school girlfriend, Tish. The teacher recognized Jesse’s writing and gave Tish a failing grade for the essay. Tish and Jesse celebrated their 33rd anniversary as a couple in October.