Dustbowl Revival, Papa Bear & the Easy Love recharge Americana roots in SF

Dustbowl-Revival_postBy Benjamin Wallen //

Dustbowl Revival & Papa Bear and The Easy Love with Quiles and Cloud //
Great American Music Hall — San Francisco
February 22nd, 2014 //

It was a night of Americana at Great American Music Hall last weekend, led by Dustbowl Revival, who transcend genres and bring together so much of what is so great about the contemporary roots-revival movement.

But early on this evening, Quiles and Cloud took the stage. The classic guitar and singing blended vocals wonderfully, making me feel as comfortable as sitting on my couch on a rainy lazy day. The stage tonight, decorated with earthly tones and twigs gave us a very organic feeling, taking down the grandiose flair of the the music hall. It was as though a band of wayfaring travelers wandered by the venue looking for a show to play and just got lucky enough.


The next group up, Papa Bear and the Easy Love, teleported us all to a time where the hippy mentality of “love everyone and play wonderful music filled with positive vibes and energy” won the culture war. As many fans of older music tend to dream of what would a show be like four decades ago, the show took me there. The Easy Love hit the mark, making everyone wonderfully happy and swaying side to side. Toward the close of their set, the band brought out members from all bands playing that night for The Band’s classic “I Shall be Released”. With all these talented folks onstage, one could not help but perfectly visualize “The Last Waltz” finale. The set seemed to go on for longer than I expected, but what happened after was a bit strange.


They announced the dance floor would need a circle cleared and they would begin with a special “capoeira”. Wild dancing and playing ensued, something I had never seen before. I have been to many festivals around the world, and I didn’t quite understand this part of the show. Nevertheless, the dancers and players gave it their all as people gathered around and cheered. As the night wondered on, I was eager for Dustbowl to take the stage. I had seen Dustbowl a few times before but never with singer and washboard player Liz Beebe. I was looking forward to hearing the full band, with their full sound. They did not disappoint.


The horns were clean and loud, the playing tight and strong — more bands these days would benefit from a tight horn section. The energy this band has is mind-blowing. After three bands and going on until 12:30 a.m., they kept everyone fully engaged. I never like tables at concerts, and it was clear that no one was going to sit for this band. The sound reminds me of a New Orleans-style blending of string and horns, with a washboard and the fast mandolin of bluegrass with the strength of rock ‘n’ roll. There is a great reason this band was named LA’s best band in 2013 — they deserve it. I really hope music like this can take off in an endless world of DJ’s and pop performers.

The Dustbowl Revival stay true to the feeling of their name. The music is clean and crisp with that touch of the rough road all real musicians must travel. Dustbowl is a fantastic band nothing short of awesome. Hearing Beebe on vocals for the first time brought the band full circle for me. It was wonderful to have the full band grace us all and make thier mark on the Bay Area music scene.


  1. That was a great show! The Capoeira was performed by The San Francisco Capoeira Center: https://www.facebook.com/CapoeiraAngolaQuintalSanFran


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