It started one rainy day in a far off land called the United Kingdom...
If you listen to the music of Beat Root Revival, you are going to hear a lot of different sounds. According to the duo’s Ben Jones, that isn’t just a coincidence.
“That’s really the kind of feel that we were going for. The reason we came up with our name was because of our style. The majority of our influences were very much roots based. Mine were the blues, rock and roll, and 60s kind of pop. Andrea comes from Ireland, and plays traditional instruments but uses them in a very universal fashion, creating a folk pop sound. We tried to blend all of the influences that both of us had in our style.”
The “Andrea” that Jones is referring to is his partner in the duo, Andrea Magee. She says that the two have been the perfect vocal fit for each other – as their passion for music is equally strong.
Music has long been important to both Jones and Magee. Andrea recalls that her exposure to music came rather early. “At the age of ten, I started playing the flute, and I started playing in bars in Ireland with my sister and my dad. A lot of my early years in music were in either classical or traditional Irish music. I studied music in school, got an honors degree in music, and became a music teacher, I was in charge of the music department in high school. I did that for about three years,” she said, until her students actually encouraged her to pursue her music as a career. For Jones, his introduction to music came a little bit later. “I got started being interested in music relatively late,” he says with a laugh. “I was about twelve.” What was guiding his influences? His father. “I was very fortunate to have my dad’s record collection as a starting point. I remember getting into The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and Neil Young. By my teenage years, I was able to put all of those influences together.”
As it was, that love of music brought them together. “I was still a high school music teacher when I began to get involved in the local music scene in Kent and he was already working the music circuit, playing live shows,” said Magee, who ended up opening up a show for Jones’s band. From that point, the musical chemistry was obvious. “We wound up sharing each other’s’ songs, and we were both fascinated by the fact that we were both pushing our own material. And we used this to drive each other forward.”
After word of mouth concerning their performances began to spread in their native United Kingdom, Ben and Andrea decided do take a chance and see what musical adventures they could find in America. Andrea admitted that the trip was everything she thought it would be. “It was wonderful. I have always been drawn to the United States and knew I wanted to spend more time here because of the history of American music. What we were really taken by on a personal level was how welcoming and hospitable everyone was here, especially people in Austin, New Orleans, and Nashville. They really seemed to open their doors to us on a personal family level and treated us as a member of their community, which has been very invaluable when you’re a long way from home.”
Their first stop in the states was deep in the heart of Texas, visiting Austin. Ironically, they just happened to travel to the musical center of the Lone Star state when South by Southwest – one of the leading musical festivals in the country was going on. She admits it was a little bit of a culture shock. “We were just a little bit shell-shocked when we walked up and down Sixth Street. We were so much in awe, and thought it was incredible. We were trying to get gigs, and we thought it was going to be impossible.”
However, thanks to the hospitality of a local taxi driver – who was willing to show them some of the musical hotspots, they did make some valuable connections – one of which led to a big performance. “We ended up talking to the owner of one of the clubs who asked us if we would be interested in opening for Dale Watson. So, that was our introduction to Austin. Then, he and his band were so taken with our sound that they asked us to come to the Continental to open for him – on our very first trip!”
While they were in Austin, they also established friendships with some of the most legendary musicians in the region. From there, they made a trip to New York, where a chance meeting would lead them to Nashville.
A few weeks later, they would hear from her. “So, she emails us and tells us she knows a guy in Nashville that might be some help to us. As it turned out, it was Gilles Godard with Ole Music Publishing. He listened to our music, and he liked it. So, through that random act of kindness, we were able to go to Nashville with a meeting. He has been so supportive to us, and has connected us to a few different people in Nashville.” That exposure led to performances at such heralded venues as The Bluebird Café, The Hard Rock, and the historic Ryman Auditorium.
Beat Root Revival released their debut effort, Waiting On A Miracle, in the fall of 2014. The duo has traveled back to Austin to begin work on their follow up. Magee says she hopes the sophomore project will convey the growth that she feels the duo has made. “The first album was a snapshot of where we were at that point and time. We had only been together for a few months, so we just wanted to capture that eclectic group of sounds we had to offer at that point. Obviously, this new album is a progression. It’s a fully formed picture of where we are right now. We’ve gone from coast to coast and have had so many musical journeys so far.”
Making the musical journey smoother is their recent signing with Toulouse and Sony/RED. “That has been an exciting option for us along those lines because it meant we would be working with such a creative team in being able to market what we would be recording. It’s the best of things from the marketing perspective, and all of the experience that comes with who we’re working with, and they understand what we do. It’s not like the mindset of ‘We make chicken, and we need someone to sell it.’ They know what we do, and are able to get it out there.
Jones agrees, saying they have definitely found their collective voice. “On a personal level, when we made the first album, we were just trying to bring two solo talents together. I think that over the past year, we’ve really developed our sound. We’ve worked out a way to celebrate our sound as two different artists that have come together. I think the new album will be very representative of that.” "The group continues that relentless search for authenticity in their sound - a drive that informs their creative approach. With each show they perform, the fan base continues to build - charming audiences from Europe to the U.S. with their impassioned concerts.
So for Ben and Andrea, the “Beat” definitely goes on!