Updated: Sep 23, 2022
By: Sawyer Hoff
When local musician and producer Matt Sayles went to a local open mic night, he heard a performance that stopped him in his tracks. His current bandmate, Ben Nelson, was playing guitar in a finger-picking style similar to a lot of Sayles’ favorite artists. From that moment, Sayles knew they had to work together.
Nelson then introduced Sayles to an old friend of his from when he attended UW-Eau Claire, Jerod Kaszynski, who plays the bass. The three of them started playing together for fun, but their sounds meshed so well together, that The Driftless Revelers were born.
Now, the Revelers will be touring for the next few months for their first album, American Fork Standards, which was released Sept. 2.
“The genesis of the band started mainly because I was listening to what we were playing and it has a really distinct weird kind of Jug Band vibe with Ben on the banjo, me on the guitar, and Jerod playing bass,” Sayles said. “We embraced the weirdness of it and started writing songs in that vein.”
Sayles describes the album's sound as a mesh of old blues and jazz with a modern and zany twist. What makes it zany? Aside from the names of their songs like “Meat Raffle Mambo,” “Get Naked Drink Beer,” “Jesus Shaves,” and more, each song also has sound bites from an old record Sayles has featuring a woman teaching a parakeet to sing nursery rhymes. “I don’t want to say it’s avant-garde, but it’s a little out there and it’s got a lot of humor which is the premise behind the band,” Sayles explained.
Sayles, who also owns Philville Records, recorded and produced the whole album. And even though you will hear a full band of instruments playing the tunes, they were all played by the guys and recorded separately.
“I’m really excited about this because this is the first locally created project I’ve done,” Sayles said. “This is our home base and I’m really excited to push this as something that’s a part of the Chippewa Valley and not just of remnants of stuff I’ve done in other places and in different parts of my life.”
The album is currently being sold locally and on their website, and all songs are available for streaming on all platforms. The Driftless Revelers will also be playing their new album live both locally and abroad, as they will be headed overseas to tour through Belgium from November to December.