Gal Holiday and the Honky Tonk Revue were at the vanguard of New Orleans’ now-thriving country scene when they formed over a decade ago, and they’ve remained in a league of their own ever since. Combining evocative songwriting, impeccable musicianship, and a twinge of punk sensibility to boot, their infectious Western swing energy has earned them their place in the upper echelon of local favorites and helped grow an avid fan-base of two-steppers around the world.
“The Gal” is Vanessa Niemann, an Appalachian-born songstress who has lent her powerful voice and magnetic stage presence to various musical projects in New Orleans and around the country. Upright bassist/musical director David Brouillette, who hails from small-town Louisiana, co-leads the band and provides the backbone for their hard-swinging rhythm. Over the years, they’ve counted among their ranks some of the finest musicians in the region. Their current roster boasts guitarists Gregory Good and Izzy Zaidman along with drummer Rose Cangelosi.
2016 will be their ninth year appearing at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, and they perform regularly at dozens of other fests and fairs. They’ve shared the stage with Willie Nelson, the Blind Boys of Alabama, Lyle Lovett, and countless other talents. New Orleans has honored them with multiple Big Easy and Best of the Beat Awards, and they reached as high as third on the FAR Charts (Freeform American Roots Music) and the top 100 on the AMA Charts (Americana Airplay, Americana Music Association.)
“When it comes to honky tonk,” OffBeat Magazine said of their third and most recent album, Last to Leave, “the real deal’s right here.” When not busy recording, they spend a good deal of time on the road. Last year alone took them to Southern California, Colorado, Texas, South Florida, the Northeast, Germany, Switzerland, England, and Scotland.
Their vigorous touring schedule doesn’t prevent the Honky Tonk Revue from remaining 100% native to their hometown, and you can find them raising a ruckus in local watering holes and dance halls any day of the week. Vivid songwriting is undoubtedly one of the group’s greatest strengths, and everything from their rollicking foot-stompers to poignant Crescent City tributes crackles with an authentic country spirit. They know the ins and outs of the country canon and can even get folks swinging to an unexpected pop cover or two. Armed with this kind of versatility and an ever-growing body of original material, they put on a show that never gets old and delights rowdy dancers and buttoned-down diners alike. New Orleans may be most closely associated with jazz and brass, but Gal Holiday and the Honky Tonk Revue prove that the city celebrates its musical diversity with enthusiasm.
Since their inception the band has been led by the captivating Vanessa Niemann, an attractive songbird armed with powerhouse vocals and serious songwriting. Since leaving behind her childhood days of running barefoot with a tambourine in the Appalachians, Vanessa keeps true to her mountain roots in the swamps of New Orleans with her no-nonsense sound--albeit with a few more tattoos and better footwear.
The band keeps their country cadence with bass player and music director David Brouillette, once a small-town Louisiana boy whose first start in the music industry began with lobbying a local pizza parlor to let him play and promote shows on Saturday nights. Though his days in rural Louisiana are long gone, like Vanessa, Dave also stays true to his roots with his characteristic honky tonk-style rhythm that keeps the crowds dancing.
Armed with these real-life backgrounds, Vanessa and Dave have made Gal Holiday and the Honky Tonk Revue a vehicle to keep country dancehall culture alive while paying homage to classic honky tonk greats such as Hank Williams, Connie Smith and Webb Pierce. Their journey of almost a decade continues to evolve through their original compositions which dominate their most recent release, Last to Leave.
Last to Leave is their third album, funded by fan support and hard work. This grass roots spirit--combined with quality musicianship--have earned them the Big Easy Award (2008, 2009) and the Best of the Beat Award (2010). They’ve also placed third on the FAR Charts (Freeform American Roots Music) and top 100 on the AMA Charts (Americana Airplay, Americana Music Association).
Last to Leave will be released for the first time nationally at the 2014 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, where the band will open for Lyle Lovett. They also look forward to their first international tour in Germany in August. But you’ll still find them playing at various local haunts where you can buy a$2.50 beer and dance a honky tonk twostep.
Keeping alive a purely American musical genre deserving of tribute, with both their interpretations of classic country and original compositions of real life stories, Gal Holiday and the Honky Tonk Revue are not to be missed.
With a sound that conjures Patsy Cline, a Johnny Cash attitude and a reverence for Merle Haggard and Bob Wills, Gal Holiday and the Honky Tonk Revue pull from the best of Honky Tonk, Western Swing and Rockabilly classics (and a few originals) to create a show that is pure American roots.