It was only appropriate that a group named Holy Ghost Tent Revival, from Asheville, North Carolina, played at a converted church, and converted listeners into new fans. Named after a roadside advertisement in their home state, they kicked off the fall schedule at the Kirkland Art Center on September 8th. The six-piece band showed tremendous versatility, with four different members playing keyboards at various times during their two-set performance.
Stephen Murray handled most of the lead vocals and rhythm guitar, but also played trumpet, and switched to the bass guitar when Kevin Williams played piano. Murray sat at the keys himself to close the first set with a stunning cover of George Harrison’s “Isn’t It a Pity,” performed with remarkable grace. Ross Montsinger on drums and Kevin Williams on bass handled the bottom end, with Williams lending backup vocals on most songs. Williams’ lead vocals and song styles while playing keys had an early Elton John feel to them. The majority of the band’s selections were in the roots rock/Americana realm accented by the wonderful punch of Charlie Humphrey on trumpet and the trombone of Hank Widmer, who both also played keyboards.
Widmer added clarinet on some of the evening’s quieter pieces. Rounding out the sextet was Matt Martin leading the way on guitar, sales pitch chants (“Pay what you want. Pay what you can.”) entertaining gesticulations, and fashion sense. How many ascots have you ever seen on stage?
The intimate venue may have had a bit of a reduced crowd on a Thursday night, but those in attendance were very appreciative of the energetic appeal of this group, and glad to have the opportunity to support live music. Holy Ghost Tent Revival’s most recent release, the EP Summer Jelly, is available on a pay what you want, pay what you can basis. The remainder of KAC’s fall performance schedule, and other events, may be found at Kirkland Art Center’s website.
Partial setlist: Who Knew, Long Road, Right State of Mind, Sun/Shadow, Walking Over My Grave, Isn’t It a Pity?, Trouble with the Truth, Smoke Myself to Death, Long Night, Broken Spirit, The End to, Thought About