Barstow Revival – Real Life
An Article by Brenda Germany
Photos by Stephen Anderson
“But our trip was different. It was a classic affirmation of everything right and true and decent in the national character. It was a gross, physical salute to the fantastic possibilities of life in this country-but only for those with true grit. And we were chock full of that.” – Hunter S. Thompson, “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”
Barstow Revival’s musical partnership brings together the elements of tenacity, love, introspection and hope – in other words “real life”, presenting it to their audiences with finely tuned harmonies and words cloaked in honesty. Although Jay Megginson and Drew Howard possess very different backgrounds, their chemistry and connection on stage is undeniable with a visible intuitiveness between them. “Sometimes I think he reads my mind.”, Megginson says of Howard, smiling.
Living in Pakistan for several years before moving to Baton Rouge, Louisiana at age four, Megginson undoubtedly internalized India’s musical mysticism later interlaced with the soulful leanings of Louisiana. He first recognized his connection to music at 8 years old and recalls playing a beloved Beach Boys album every day as soon as he got off the school bus. First picking up a guitar at age 22, he credits Van Halen as his greatest musical influence. Six years ago, Jay adopted a disciplined approach to doing “more than just strumming occasionally” and began to play guitar seriously as well as compose.
Top photo: Barstow Revival’s Drew Howard (left) and Jay Megginson (right); Above photo: Barstow Revival
Howard, who received his first guitar at age 12 from his father, grew up in south Texas listening to the music of George Strait, AC/DC and conservative Christian artists, was most influenced by Dove Award winning guitarist, Phil Keaggy, whose over 40 years in music spans the genres of rock and roll with his band Glass Harp to Christian and gospel performances. By 17, Drew had moved to Austin and begun playing with the well known Nigerian recording artist, Kalu James, master of the West African Afrobeat. Through pushing himself to provide something worthwhile and compatible to this very different type of music, Drew began gradually stepping into the vein of music that they were performing. “I realized, at that moment, that everyone has all music born into them – all rhythms – all harmonies, we just have to allow it to come out.”
Playing together for two years since Howard invited Megginson to join him at a songwriters’ night in 2017, both musicians place great importance on writing songs that express life’s truths with authenticity. “We may throw out lyrics; look at each other and go, ‘are you kidding me?’ No idea is a bad idea, it just may not be right at that time, but it will get us to the next idea and then the right one.”
Above photo: Barstow Revival
Barstow Revival’s “Road”, the band’s first EP, recorded at Studio 78, includes four tracks penned by Jay Megginson, “29 Years”, “Memory”, “Road to Damascus”, “Lost Hands” and “Explaining Blue” co-written with Drew Howard. The band’s name came into being after reading the mention of Barstow in Hunter S. Thompson’s “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” and combining it with Revival to signify several of their songs’ relation to religion as in the “Road to Damascus” and “Lost Hands” tracks of their EP. The band has written more new songs and plans to release an album next year with a full complement of musicians.
Barstow Revival most recently opened for an enthusiastic audience at Grayson Capps’ Cedar Street Social Club show on September 13, 2019 in Mobile, AL. The Mississippi Songwriters’ Festival also featured Barstow Revival on two stages at the 10th Annual event on September 19-22, 2019 in Ocean Springs, MS where the band performed in the round to substantial, receptive crowds.
Megginson and Howard describe Barstow Revival’s music as eclectic, soulful and psychedelic Americana, but, clearly, at its heart is the fulfillment of their desire to “create music that inspires the listener to think about real life.”
Barstow Revival may currently be seen at venues across the Alabama and Mississippi Gulf Coast.
Above photo: Barstow Revival’s Drew Howard and Jay Megginson wtih Ross Graham at Cedar Street Social Club
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