Like the most humbly braggadocious of musicians (at least those with the technical skill to back it up), Beat Root Revival’s vocalist/percussionist, Andrea Magee, isn’t keen on distilling her acoustic duo’s essence into a single, marketable longline. However, the former high school music teacher will admit that a waitress she and guitarist Ben Jones once befriended got it mostly right. “She put it, ‘We’ve got the beat, we’re rooted in old music, and we’re reviving it.’ So, essentially acoustically rhythm-driven with tight harmonies.”
From an objective standpoint, one might describe this group’s pop-forward groove as a rock ’n’ roll/Americana sound nurtured by Magee’s roots in traditional Irish folk, but even that doesn’t paint the whole picture. Hailing from Belfast and Kent, respectively, Magee and Jones chose to relocate to Austin almost seven years ago and have since enjoyed stints opening for the Stray Cats’ Brian Setzer, the Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson and — soon after their arrival in Texas — Ameripolitan country icon Dale Watson.
To be sure, Beat Root Revival’s charming esotericism lies in their live shows. Here, audiences drink themselves silly on the tangible energy that surges through Magee and Jones’ levitating harmonies and rousing breakdowns. It’s this on-stage electricity, McGee says, that the duo owes to their practice of not rehearsing; they simply write their songs separately and meet up to perform. “I never know where we’re going to go, and I’ll happily follow his intricate rhythms. There’s excitement in the notes he goes for … and nails.”
Taking a break from their partnership in 2020 — if you can call each composing a pair of solo albums “a break” — Magee and Jones now find themselves hacking away at the anticipated follow-up to Beat Root Revivial’s sophomore album, 2019’s Up. “We’re approaching the band from a much more grateful frame of mind now,” says Magee. “There’s not that pressure for Beat Root Revival to be our be-all-end-all — there’s a lot more love and care.”
Photo by Dave Hensley