The Delta Rae Revival: A Unique and Immense Live Music Experience

I originally heard about Delta Rae while living up in Bethlehem, PA. The lively country six-piece has come up to Christmas City a handful of times in the past, and even won our hearts with a high-powered song about the rise and fall of Bethlehem Steel on 2015’s “After It All.” Even so, I had never gotten the chance to take in the full, live Delta Rae experience…

…until Wednesday night.

I had heard about the Delta Rae Revival residency at The Basement Nashville. Couple that with an opportunity to check out Australia-born alt-country performer Katie Cole, and I suddenly had Wednesday night plans.

The end result? Possibly one of the most enjoyable nights of live entertainment I’ve ever experienced, hands down.

Without giving too much away, Delta Rae Revival is so much more than a concert. It’s part-theatre, part-seance (yes, you read that correctly), and it is all of those things within an interactive environment. Before diving into the musical performances, I want to tell you that you have two more chances to experience this unique piece of all-around performance art, and you absolutely should.

Onto the music: the night was opened by Oakland, CA native Mikayla McVey. A folk singer with a very clear respect for and influence from traditional country, McVey’s gentle tones on guitar and vocal were pleasing on the ears, and the emotion in her voice and message kept a packed room rapt in attention throughout a seven-song set.

Katie Cole was up next, delivering an impassioned, full-band set, complete with horns and rich, emotive harmonies. Katie was on-hand to celebrate the release of her recent EP, “Things That Break, Pt. 1,” playing through cuts from the record that includes highlights like “Graceland” and the tender, heartbreaking “Time on My Hands.” Cole’s vocals are a potent blend of country, soul, blues, and even a touch of gospel, lending a voice to songs that are well-crafted and exciting to the trained ear, while accessible to fans of just about any taste. Moreover, the Aussie singer has a knack for engaging her audience, and unified every listener in the capacity venue into a shared musical experience.

Soon thereafter, the headliners themselves, Delta Rae, took the stage in dramatic, high-energy fashion, complete with the band’s trademark heart-pounding rhythms and distinctive harmonies. The energy never let up from start to finish, making for a thrilling show that featured notable special guests, including vocalist/fiddler Natalie Stovall, named as one of CMT’s “Next Women of Country,” and renowned songwriter and Willie Nelson collaborator, Jamey Johnson.

Highlights are hard to narrow down from a truly stellar set. But, if I had to pick two, I really enjoyed Hands Dirty,” the new, punchy new women’s empowerment anthem, delivered with pointed aggression and passion by lead vocal tandem Brittany Hölljes and Liz Hopkins. Also, “Dance in the Graveyards,” led by guitarist Ian Hölljes with four-part support from brother Eric, sister Brittany, and Hopkins, was a fun and uplifting conclusion to the evening; one which featured a mashup with the Whitney Houston classic, “I Wanna Dance With Somebody.”

I’ll definitely be hitting up at least one more of these Delta Rae Revival shows before the residency ends for the winter on December 19. For now, take a look through my lens, and maybe I’ll see you at The Basement over the next couple weeks!

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