The first time Jacob Deaton (Sweet Deat) saw a video of Louis Armstrong playing and singing “On the Sunny Side of the Street” he fell in love with the music of New Orleans. When he saw Armstrong sing the lyrics “If I never had a cent I’d be as rich as Rockefeller/ gold dust at my feet/ on the sunny side of the street,” Deaton said years of being poor came flowing through Armstrong’s eyes—he had lived it—it was genuine music.
The band Sweet Deat & The Revivalists was formed very organically, almost by coincidence. Deaton and his friends would get together occasionally to play traditional New Orleans jazz tunes such as “St. Louis Blues,” “My Bucket’s Got a Hole In It” and “When the Saints Go Marching In.” Deaton, attracted by Armstrong and King Oliver’s early recordings, said as a jazz musician it’s important to investigate the past of a musical tradition in order to be educated on “what’s coming next.” Sweet Deat & The Revivalists is “what’s coming next,” adding an original approach to improvising and playing many of the standards stemming from the early jazz of the 1920s.
In February 2013, the band released its first album Live at Red Clay Theatre. The album begins with “Indiana” and the clarinet and muted trombone are featured. Another highlight of the 10-track album is when Deaton sings “On the Sunny Side of the Street,” the tune he fell in love with so many years earlier. His voice is at times soulful and melancholy, at other times bluesy and forceful. Deaton’s steel guitar playing also resonates throughout the album and adds a welcomed sound, offering a throwback to the tinny songs of the early blues era. During “Little Liza Jane” the band doubles on backing vocals, which adds an even richer texture to the music. As an encore, the band jams for nearly 14 minutes on the popular New Orleans tune “Second Line,” which brings to mind the rich colors and rhythms of Mardi Gras.
New Orleans swing music is soulful, heartfelt music. It developed during an era where poor musicians were forced to overcome great obstacles to carry on the tradition—countless musicians from that time didn’t make it out of the smoky jazz clubs on Bourbon Street. However, the music is also a lot of fun. It makes you dance and Sweet Deat & The Revivalists carry on the best part of the New Orleans tradition—making you tap your toes and shake your butts—while giving the old standards the justice they deserve.