The Hippo


May 26, 2020








Freeway Revival by Libby Gamble.

The Freeway Revival 

When: Tuesday, Feb. 20, 8 p.m.
Where: Jewel Music Venue, 61 Canal St., Manchester
Also appearing Saturday, Feb. 17, at Ragged Mountain Ski Resort in Danbury

Brothers of the road
Asheville band Freeway Revival travels to NH

By Michael Witthaus

 The title of Revolution Road, the debut album from The Freeway Revival, could be a reference to resistance and reaction. But it’s actually a celebration of flow and continuity. 

“Keeping the wheels turning toward the positive things in life, now and in the future,” bassist and songwriter Kenny Crowley told one writer when the disc was released last September. 
The energy flows like the easy harmonies and smooth instrumentation that mark the record’s 11 tracks — a reflection of how the five musicians in The Freeway Revival came together. 
Twin brothers Adam and Jonathan Clayton were at a crossroads when their first band’s rhythm section departed in 2015. Crowley, a recent San Francisco transplant, was a singer-songwriter looking for collaborators; he found the Claytons at the same time as drummer Cartwright Brandon and guitarist Tim Husk. 
The first time they jammed, on some old CSN&Y and Eagles songs, there was clearly something special. 
“Immediately, everyone knew which part to take,” Crowley said in a recent phone interview. “It was a blend of harmonies that I’d been searching for, for a long time. ... The glove fit, and everything started grooving.” 
Each brought a unique element to the effort. 
“Everyone in the group is a songwriter, so it gave us a lot of material to start with,” Crowley said. “It’s great how the different styles give us an eclectic fit; there’s cohesion and variety.” 
Beyond that, each track was a template, shaped into final form with full band input.
The brothers’ love for SoCal rock is apparent on “Wandering’,” but the band put its own stamp on the song, adding a new ending. With Brandon on drums, there’s a boisterous Black Crowes with Jimmy Page flavor to album opener “Goodbye,” and Husk’s slashing licks elevate the deep funk rocker “Soul Survivor.” 
One of the record’s standout tracks is a good example of the group’s ability to evolve a song, to smooth a stone into a gem. 
Crowley’s song “Rise” began as a self-journey and was shaped into something much more powerful. 
“It was written in one of those doubtful times as a personal booster and it became a much bigger thing,” he said. “The harmonies they added makes it one of those kind of epic ballads that builds.”  
Building songs to a crescendo is a band trademark. Each cut on the record is five minutes or longer, with the rollicking “Peace” stretching to eight. It  reflects a jam band spirit — but this is disciplined music.
The democratic approach can be perilous for some, but The Freeway Revival does it with aplomb. 
“There’s a mentality in the band that makes that possible, where you can bring something to the table and it becomes totally  different from what you imagined,” Crowley said. 
This philosophy was tested in the making of Revolution Road. Working with producer Matt Hueneman — “a seasoned veteran and a great guitar player,” Crowley said — they spent five days in the studio doing initial tracking. The band liked the results, but Hueneman suggested some changes. 
What followed was months of back and forth emailing of tracks — a hard but rewarding process, with benefits beyond the studio. 
“File sharing was a challenge to communication ... what’s the point you’re trying to make here?” Crowley said. “Ultimately, I think it made everyone work out their parts to the point where they are really strong and serve the song, and they’re now permanent ... locked in.”
The spirit of “Rise” reflects the band’s ethos of relentless touring and devotion to their music. 
“The struggle is real, and sticking to it full time can be hard,” Crowley said, “but when you realize it’s your true calling, you’ve gotta rise above all that and make it happen, devote yourself to it. Once you make that commitment, you start to see things happen.”

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