Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Patrick Stolley
This is directed at all of the single ladies out there or, more importantly maybe, all of the ladies who wish they were single again instead of being stuck with a real dog/dud of a man. Please consider the many men of North Carolina's Holy Ghost Tent Revival for your rebound and any long-term commitments that you may be hoping to enter into in the coming days. They are prime examples of the chivalrous good guys who are out there, wandering around so sparsely, so rare and unseen.
They are like the nice boys that you'd meet at church, but you might luck out and meet them at the bluegrass festival/ice cream social at the fairgrounds or at a rock and roll club. They'd catch your eyes with their vests, button-down dress shirts and their ties and then they'd have your hearts with their sentiments - woven from the most earnest and endearing forms of kindness and pure-blooded love. They will be there for you. They will stand by your side. Should the skies open up - as they are wont to do on occasion - and spill out some puddles, they will quickly and without care, remove the coats from their shoulders, lie them across the muddy ground and allow you to walk cleanly to wherever you might be going. They'll accompany you post-crossing, leaving the coats behind, for you'd be way more important to them than any silly, old, natty coat.
Holy Ghost Tent Revival writes bluegrass songs with that classic emotion of a man trying to woo a woman, not a man trying to seduce a woman. It's as if the characters in their songs are producing a resume - a list of all of their finest attributes - dressing nicely, throwing on a dab of respectable cologne and letting the ladies make the choice, believing that they deserve this opportunity to hold their hand. They are like the Avett Brothers, but doubled, adding more and more sounds, turning these valentines into blown out parties, the act of trying to impress a pretty co-ed being an athletic contest that will leave them heaving and sweating, a consequence of giving everything they have to a woman they feel is worth it.
They acknowledge that none of this - the love thing, the exposing feelings thing, the making any of it fucking work thing - is easy and yet there they are trying their hearts out to get somewhere with it. They sing - yeah, almost all of them - on "Wish It Was Easy" - about such a thing, offering that they've amended their ways a bit, singing, "Oh, girl, I wish you'd come round and pick this sad boy up from feeling down/I know it's my fault/I never answered when you called/And I was always gone when you were wanting me around/But babe I swear to you I've changed my way/Yes, I've been so much better these days/No more will I forget you/No more will I neglect you." So much of the rambunctious greatness of Holy Ghost Revival is in how much so many of their actions and interactions with these women - despite the noblest of intentions - smart and sting. The hunt, for such good people, should be without so many complications, but who's kidding whom there? It's always hard, just never this much fun.
* Essay originally published September, 2010