The Revelers, featuring members of the Pine Leaf Boys and the Red Stick Ramblers, qualify as a southwest Louisiana supergroup.
Formed two years ago, the Revelers expand upon the repertoires of both the Pine Leaf Boys, a four-time Grammy-nominated Cajun band, and the Red Stick Ramblers, which played Cajun music, Western swing, classic country, honky tonk and jazz until the group’s friendly breakup in October.
The Revelers add 1950s and ’60s Louisiana rock ’n’ roll and New Orleans R&B-derived swamp pop to their recordings and set lists. Currently recording the second Revelers album in Lafayette (for release next winter), the band will issue “The History of Swamp Pop, Vol. 1,” in 7-inch vinyl and digital formats in July.
Bassist, singer and Eunice resident Eric Frey was barely aware of swamp pop before he moved to Baton Rouge from Alabama a decade ago.
“I’d heard the music but never knew that it had a name,” Frey said last week.
Living in Louisiana, Frey couldn’t help but hear swamp pop. Classic examples of the subgenre include Van Broussard’s “Lord, I Need Somebody Bad Tonight,” Tommy McLain’s “Sweet Dreams” and Phil Phillips’ “Sea of Love.”
“That’s one of the beautiful things about living down here in Louisiana, the wonderful radio programming we have,” Frey said. “And the fact that there still is local music here, which is not the case in a lot of America.”
The six members of the Revelers come from Louisiana, Alabama, Florida, Tennessee and Georgia. Frey’s fellow Revelers are fiddler and guitarist Daniel Coolik, drummer Glenn Fields, guitarist Chas Justus, saxophonist Chris Miller and fiddler and accordion player Blake Miller.
Most of the Revelers were members of the Red Stick Ramblers, the Pine Leaf Boys or both when they spontaneously began what became the Revelers about five years ago.
“We really wanted to start a band with Blake Miller up front and center,” Frey said.
Miller, the grandson of an accordion builder, grew up with Cajun music in the small town of Iota. He later performed with the Red Stick Ramblers, the Pine Leaf Boys, Balfa Toujours and Cedric Watson.
The Revelers and the Red Stick Ramblers co-existed until Ramblers fiddler and lead singer Linzay Young chose to stop rambling and, as Frey expressed it, grow up.
“So Linzay got married and built a house on the Cajun prairie,” Frey said. “He’s doing exactly what he wants to do. It’s a cliché, but living on the road is tough. Linzay didn’t want to do that anymore.”
Young’s departure from the Red Stick Ramblers meant the end of the group.
“Without the lead singer, it wasn’t the Red Stick Ramblers anymore,” Frey said. “We disbanded on good terms.”
The Red Stick Ramblers’ retirement opened doors for the Revelers, allowing opportunities for more gigs and more creative participation by the band’s members.
“We all wanted a chance to shine and sing songs that we either wrote or found on old records,” Frey explained. “And this will be our first summer on the road completely independent of Red Stick Ramblers gigs. We’re taking the torch. We’ve got a summer full of gigs and are super-excited to spread the word.”