There’s a country and Americana music scene in Texas that’s big enough to keep artists touring year-round without ever leaving the state. Folk Family Revival grew out of this rich musical environment, and its members embrace the Texas sound wholeheartedly. But they also add a heaping dose of rock ’n’ roll—which has the country music purists somewhat skeptical.
“Every festival you go to that’s not in Austin has these same Texas country names,” says frontman Mason Lankford. “If you don’t sound like that, people say, ‘Oh, these guys are different. They sound like something you’d hear in California.’ Then you go to California and people say, ‘Oh, that’s got a Texas flavor to it.’”
The members of Folk Family Revival—Mason, his brothers Barrett and Lincoln, and their family friend Caleb Pace—aren’t too concerned with what people call their country/roots/psychedelic/folk/rock music. They tour the West Coast regularly and understand that they aren’t an easy fit for the Texas country scene. One listen to the band, however, and you can hear the rough-around-the-edges perspective that makes the Texas sound a favorite of roots fans.
The latest Folk Family Revival album, Water Walker, showcases its different dimensions. It kicks off with “If It Don’t Kill You,” a rocking tune about surviving love, which is followed by “Sunshine,” a sweet song full of vulnerability and self-reflection. Then comes “I Drew a Line,” which circles back to outlaw-style country and has the memorable line, “My mama used to tell me, ‘Don’t do drugs unless you do ’em with your friends.’”
Growing up, the Lankford brothers picked up music early. Their dad played bass and always had a few instruments lying around. By the time Mason was 12, he was in his first group and performing in local coffee shops. The music the brothers played in their younger years was “More what people wanted to hear than what [we] wanted to play,” says Lankford, but the experience served as a foundation to grow from.
“It wasn’t really what we enjoyed, but it was what we did for where we were at the time,” says Lankford. “Now, we’ve got a record collection that fills up a room pretty good. It’s full of the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, the Doors, the Band. That’s what we shape our sound like. We use a lot of vintage gear and old techniques.”
At the heart of Folk Family Revival is family—and the definition goes beyond blood relations for these guys. The band is rooted in a growing community of people that includes other musicians, fans, artists, and friends. Mom and pop Lankford’s house is a bustling place where people come to play music, sleep on the couch, hang out with new and old friends, eat, and connect. The house is homebase for the ever-expanding family.
“Sometimes people come up and say, ‘I was going through a hard time and you really helped me with that song,’” says Lankford. “We’ll say, ‘Hey, you need to give me your number and come to the house. You’re one of the dudes that we want to hang out with.” He adds, “We bring in people that strengthen the family.”
This spirit of openness and collaboration extends to the music, as well. The members make a point of trying new ideas and changing songs up to keep things fresh. It’s an improvisational approach that doesn’t always work out, but they don’t dwell on that.
“There are plenty of messups,” says Lankford, “But you just laugh it off and find a way to play with the crowd. There’s no point in getting hung up on it, you just make sure the next song goes off without a hitch.”
In the end, the organic approach to making music aligns nicely with with the band’s approach to friendship, life and family.
“We’ve learned a lot about love and acceptance and those kind of things,” says Lankford. “In life, hopefully everybody’s searching for some kind of betterment and trying to make themselves a better person. The family has helped so much with that.”
INFO: 7:30 p.m., Monday, July 11. Don Quixote’s, 6275 Hwy. 9, Felton. 335-2800. $10.