Article by: Colton Davis Photos by: Markus Akre
Saturday was an evening of bluegrass at First Ave. Minneapolis band, The Last Revel, started the night off with a showcase of talent. Each member of the trio (and sometimes quartet) was multitalented and contributed to the set. Self-described as “porchfront Americana”, I don’t think there is a better way to sum up this group. While maintaining a theme of modern and edgy bluegrass, they never strayed far from its kissin’ cousin, classic bluegrass.
On banjo and vocals Ryan Acker held up the driving rhythms and melodies. Banjos are notoriously tough instruments; Acker handled his expertly and with a great deal of finesse. On upright bass and violin (another pair of tough instruments), Vinnie Donatelle kept us grounded in classic bluegrass. He started in a support role on bass and stole the show when he brought out the fiddle. Donatelle roused the crowd with runaway violin solos that broke into the melody just before the boiling point. If he had kept those up he would have cut his fiddle in half with his red-hot bow. Center stage was Lee Henke on guitar, vocals, harmonica, and kick drum. Henke’s sometimes-raspy vocals added life and experience to the whole show.
The group dedicated a song to a friend who had passed away and their genuine sincerity brought a rush of floodwater to the dry riverbeds in our eyes.