Live Review – The Last Revel at Icehouse


Photo from The Last Revel Facebook Page

By Ann Treacy

The Last Revel finds themselves weathering the perfect musical storm for their sound. Back in the day there wasn’t much room for a folksy bluegrass band on stage in Minneapolis on a Saturday night – no matter how rocking they were. The Last Revel is preceded by a wave of  Trampled by Turtles, Pert Near Sandstone and other Minnesota bands who plowed the way for mainstream acceptance for what some of us have always loved.The Last Revel was well loved Saturday night at the Icehouse.

The band consists of Lee Henke, Ryan Acker, and Vinnie Donatelle. They each play a wide range of instruments – think upright bass, fiddles, and harmonicas. They have a bevy of young female admirers, which is easy to understand. They give off a festival vibe, which makes them a very fun band to see. The banjo is fast; the fiddle goes from sweet to fiery – sometimes in the same song, the power of the upright bass gives an oomph and the guitar keeps a consistent quality.

The music is tight. They clearly have been playing together a long time; they make it look fun and easy. Acker has a plaintive voice that draws the audience in; Donatelle’s voice has an aspirated edge that makes the audience come in a little closer. They tell stories and bring a crowd to their feet. For years, I worked at an Irish bar In St. Paul. There were touches of Celtic tones to some songs (more Steve Earle and Sharon Shannon singing about Galway Girls than the Dubliners) but even more than the music was the Irish ability to rile up the crowd – without mentioning the British!

But the music wasn’t Irish. It was more Americana front porch music – with a note from a wide range of cultures. There were even a few moments of gypsy along the line of a slightly subdued Gogol Bordello.

They did a sweltering version of George Gershwin’s Summertime – it included a kazoo. You just don’t hear enough kazoos enough these days!

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