The Revival Tour Vogue Theatre, Vancouver BC, April 17

The Revival Tour Vogue Theatre, Vancouver BC, April 17
Photo: Jason Schreurs
Billed as an "acoustic collaborative event," DIY scene mainstay Chuck Ragan (Hot Water Music) gathered punk, bluegrass and alt-country musicians onstage for a three-hour-plus set that felt like an amazing hoedown party in some farmer's barn. Joining Ragan on the 2013 edition of the now five-year-old tour were Tim McIlrath (Rise Against), Dave Hause (the Loved Ones), Rocky Votolato (ex-Waxwing), Jenny Ognibene ("Jenny O.") and a host of backup players, including fiddle player Jon Gaunt and upright bass player Joe Ginsberg. Gaunt and Ginsberg have played with Ragan on album and tour for years and figured prominently in the show.

But every show needs a star, and this one had two. Ragan, a pure mountain of a man with a sunbeam smile, is always a force onstage. But with the Revival Tour he's like the jolly general, leading the charge and bringing everyone together. During brief solo sets by each player, Ragan and others would run up on stage and hit a tambourine, strum a guitar or offer some sing-alongs. Slowly, one by one, other players would join back in, making the end of each solo set a punk/folk jamboree. And then there's Philadelphia sparkplug Dave Hause. He was the cheerleader, keeping the crowd pumped by screaming out choruses in their general direction and getting the handclaps going. Hause's solo set was the highlight of the night; songs such as "C'Mon Kid" and "Time Will Tell" paired perfectly with his Loved Ones classics, most of which started huge chorus-calls throughout the half-full venue. Hause was joined by the whole crew near the end of a new song called "The Shine," which he finished by splitting the crowd to sing different parts and then jumped into the fray. It was a great moment that got even greater when he ran out of the back of the venue with his guitar before appearing again on stage moments later to join Ragan's next song. Some real Energizer Bunny shit.

Short solo sets by Votolato, McIlrath and Ognibene were hit and miss, as was a local guest spot by Vancouver-raised Jay Malinowski (Bedouin Soundclash), in that order of preference, but when they were joined again by the husky Ragan or the hyper Hause, and the talented-as-fuck background players, everything smoothed itself out. "This is a lot of flannel, a lot of denim and a lot of feelings. You guys still with us?!," prompted Hause before a last run of songs from the full ensemble. The Revival Tour players finished with a classy cover of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young's "Ohio," an amazing Votolato-penned version of "Red River" and material from Ragan's solo albums, including "Revival Road," which has become this inspiring tour's signature song.