The Dustbowl Revival bring folk-funk to the forefront


The Dustbowl Revival will bring their big band sound infused with soul, funk, Americana, jazz, folk and swing influences to Willie’s Locally Known on March 14.

Matt Wickstrom

Known for their boisterous live performances combining influences of folk, soul, Americana, funk, jazz and swing, The Dustbowl Revival have been embraced my music aficionados worldwide.

Encompassing a bevy of genres, the group has attracted a massive amount of guests and collaborators in its past after guitarist and lead vocalist Zach Lupetin put out a Craigslist adding looking for like-minded musicians in Los Angeles after moving out west from Chicago. At one time the group consisted of nearly 25 L.A. area musicians, but once the dust settled in 2013 the group became grounded and began touring as an octet.

The Dustbowl Revival currently consists of Lupetin on guitar, Liz Beebe on washboard and ukulele, Daniel Mark on mandolin, Connor Vance on fiddle, Matt Rubin on trumpet, Ulf Bjorlin on trombone, James Klopfleisch on bass and Joshlyn Heffernan on drums. Lupetin and Beebe handle the group’s vocals.

In recent months, The Dustbowl Revival have been putting the finishing touches on their upcoming album due out in June, teasing fans with two new singles “Busted” and “Only One” in the process. The record will be the first since the group’s highly-acclaimed 2015 record ‘With a Lampshade On’, which Lupetin said the band took a live performance approach to, a stark difference from their upcoming effort which he says features more of the bells and whistles studios have to offer.

“In the studio, especially in the more quiet, emotional songs we’ve been working on, it’s been cool to see songs transform right in front of our eyes,” Lupetin said. “Songs that you always thought were more sad or melancholy have a more defiant and uplifting message in sound.”

For The Dustbowl Revival’s latest record the group teamed up with producer Ted Hutt, formerly of the band Flogging Molly and someone who’s worked in the studio with the likes of Old Crow Medicine Show, Dropkick Murphys and Gaslight Anthem. According to Lupetin, Hutt did a great job of navigating through the chaos and noise that is accompanied with an eight-piece band, allowing for tighter compositions and a greater harnessing of each individual’s musical capabilities.

“[Ted Hutt] pushed me and Liz on our vocals get out of our comfort zones, push it a little harder that we’ve ever done before and to leave our inhibitions and our own fears behind, because if you go into a song fearful of messing up, you can hear that in the track,” Lupetin said. “You can hear the humidity and the hesitation, and it’s that sort of abandon and fierceness that I think is going to be portrayed on this new record.”

Lupetin added that as the group has honed in on it’s collective sound, they’ve begun writing more of their own original material rather than compositions inspired by or an ode to something else, describing the group’s sound as folk-funk.

The Dustbowl Revival will be performing in Lexington at Willie’s Locally Known on Tuesday March 14 as they navigate the east coast on a tour that will conclude the following week in Florida. Music begins at 8:30 p.m. and tickets are $8.

“Music is both a gift and an obsession,” Lupetin said. “It’s no longer a choice, it’s just a part of the way I express myself and the way I live and breathe.”