Spotlight Series: Dirty Revival

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Tonight audiences at the Levitt AMP Jacksonville Music Series, presented by Jacksonville Main Street, are in for a truly eclectic night of music with Portland big band Dirty Revival. Their kaleidoscopic take on funk, jazz and gritty soul is thrilling audiences around the country on an ongoing tour – and they’re making a stop in Jacksonville to welcome Levitteers at Central Park joining in on the fun!

Dirty Revival’s music is a self-described “musical gumbo”, seamlessly combining old-school R&B and jazz with a modern, funky approach. While cuts like “Dirty Love” are unapologetic go-go style jams – complete with a catchy chorus, vibrant percussion and even a rap verse – the band showcases a more vulnerable, softer personality on songs like “She Can’t Wait”, where the glimmering organs and lilting vocals harken back to classic Motown era records.  Each member of the band has a strong presence in building Dirty Revival’s sound – their characteristically strong vocals are complemented by a tight rhythm section, virtuosic guitar and keyboard solos and brassy punctuation.

Featured at festivals alongside the likes of Parliament and George Clinton, and on sessions like NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert, Dirty Revival’s music has captured attention and acclaim nationwide. Seattle Music Insider has described them as “gritty, raw and real”, while The Portland Mercury sum it up with one succinct statement: “They’re here to make you move”.

In addition to their moving music, Dirty Revival’s backstory is equally inspiring. According to an interview in Inland 360, frontwoman Sarah Clarke spent a number of years singing at karaoke bars in Portland, Oregon, where the band initially emerged through informal jam sessions. Despite having attended high school together, the seven members of Dirty Revival only started getting organized and booking shows towards their late 20’s. Many of these were in dimly-lit basements and underground shows, in and around their hometown. By then, Clarke already had a two-year-old son. “It was this unruly, large group and no one was really in charge. We were doing a lot of cover tunes but we knew we wanted to do something different”, Clarke said in the interview.

Now a staple of West-Coast funk and soul, the band has come a long way. Despite the lack of guidance in their musical journey, Dirty Revival’s optimistic and empowering lyrics tell a different story. And after listening to a band filled with some of the most talented jazz and funk session musicians around Portland, it’s hard to see where Clarke’s commanding, emotive vocals could find a better home. We look forward to the band’s future tour dates, and hope Levitteers at Levitt AMP Jacksonville enjoy this unique group!