Teens jam it up at Tipitina’s

Revivalists’ musicians offer tutelage at Youth Music Workshop

Teen bassist Dylan Caillouet had the eager eye of rock & roll glory as he stood near the Tipitina’s stage Sunday afternoon for the club’s Youth Music Workshop.

He was joined by band mate Ian Kelly, guitarist for The Odyssey of Slidell, a distant land from whence the teens had arrived.

The parents had driven.

The teen musicians had been coming to the regular workshops for the past year and a half, said Caillouet, as indie-rock soul-jammers The Revivalists prepared to kick off the Tipitina’s Foundation event with their song “Monster.”

“I love jamming,” said guitarist Erin Kelly, the sister of Ian Kelly and a 17-year-old student at Salmen High School.

Workshop organizer Deb Vidacovich breezed by with five-year-old Melvin “Michael” Poole in tow — another regular participant for the past couple of years, Vidacovich said as the precocious singer-dancer described his bona fides and appreciation for Michael Jackson.

The event drew seventeen names to the sign-up sheet — “a lot of kids,” Vidacovich said as she watched them file on and offstage with the seven Revivalists.

The band, fresh off a triumphant return to Tipitina’s after a summer tour away from their New Orleans home base — and off to Alabama for a Sunday night show after the Tip’s teach-in — took the crowd of musical kids through the changes and lyrics to ‘Hurricane Winslow.”

The students onstage with the Revivalists included mini-Jimi towheads with Stratocasters, an under-ten violinist in the back row, and assorted gangly teenagers with guitars and horns. A trio of upfront singers was coaxed from shyness to sing the lyric, “I love you more than hurricane winds blow.”

The stormy declaration is especially poignant here.

After a popular run in the 1980s, the Sunday workshops were revived after Hurricane Katrina — and helped give birth to the Revivalists.

Guitarist Zack Feinberg and drummer Andrew Campanelli were college students in 2006 — at Tulane and Loyola, respectively — when they met onstage at a workshop.

Now they were preaching the gospel of musical community and respectful interaction with results best described as “joyful.”

As the band moved deeper into the “Hurricane Winslow” song structure, the vocals got bluesier, and the whole youthful sonic sprawl shifted into a low gear and dreamy jam with orchestrated accents and solos courtesy of the band’s direction.

Ian “Crazy Fingers” Kelly went a little Jerry Garcia, and the singers harmonized into a semi-wailing blues.

The Nevilles were invoked.

Rattles were available for infants in the audience, and apples and pears were available on the bar.

A half-eaten peanut butter and jelly sandwich sat on a speaker cabinet as the student-musicians filed back onstage and took their turns in the concluding “solo” section of the workshop.

Erin Kelly strummed out Nirvana’s Pennyroyal Tea with the band as the slide guitar was packed, cables were coiled and the drum kit slowly undone. The Revivalists were off to Orange Beach, Ala., for a show, and they were already going to be an hour late.

Tenor saxophonist Orlando Gilbert, who attends Benjamin Franklin High School and New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts, broke out Herbie Hancock’s tight-roller, “Chameleon.”

Carlos Gonzalez followed Gilbert with another Nirvana song.

Gonzalez, a Grace King High School senior, had earlier been practicing some Papa Roach runs on his acoustic guitar. He said his tastes were rock & roll and metal, and techno — and that he’d never heard of The Revivalists before Sunday.

“They sound real nice” he said, before taking the stage.

As the event drew to a close, an a cappella group of youngsters belted out “We Will Rock You.”