Brian Revels is probably most recognized as the brazen voice behind Atlanta, Georgia’s, City Mouse, a bourbon-barreled version of an Avett Brother’s tribute with it’s own unique canon of songs. If you know him, you might also tend to picture him holding a banjo. But, long before the birth of this rowdy band of folk-singers, he has been scribbling lyrics on scrap paper – restaurant order pads, receipts, check stubs – and picking a well-loved 6-string confidante.
At 16, freshly expelled from high school, the now 26 year-old, dusted off the Silvertone stratocaster that was begged off of his single mother two years prior. One summer of work after that earned him the Takamine that now has a hole in the front that would make Willie Nelson do a double-take.
Gravitating to the energetic and angsty indie-pop-rock – Brand New, Taking Back Sunday, Bright Eyes – at his youngest musical stages, Revels found his way to more timeless heroes in young adulthood – The Band, Bob Dylan, Townes Van Zandt, Woody Guthrie – coaxed by his friends’ southern-born fathers. Growing up a few minutes away from the intimate music mecca that is Athens, Ga, live music became an increasingly prevalent part of life. He was soon immersed in the music local legends like Drive-By Truckers or Ponderosa. His music now boasts a compelling mix of such influences, taking mournful but witty stabs at reality in a tone reminiscent of Conor Oberst’s work or journeying through an outlaw’s murder ballad in a way the Patterson Hood might appreciate.
As a performer, he tends to reimagine his songs constantly. Not like the Dead, completely reforming or endlessly improvising, but delivering the words with an earnestness that is completely true in the moment and therefore never a re-enactment of something tirelessly rehearsed – whether or not it is.
“I swear it comes from somewhere else. I definitely catch myself forcing parts of it, but some of the inspiration I just can’t claim. As far as the show goes, it’s like trying to keep a bird in a cage that won’t latch. I try to stick to melodies, try to be still but it never seems come out as tame as I’d like it to.” Says Brian.