One of my absolute favorite bands throughout the 1980s was The Reivers of Austin TX. They had started in 1984 as Zeitgeist and released the album Translate Slowly in 1985. Before the release of their 1987 major label debut Saturday (produced by Don Dixon), they were forced to change their name to The Reivers. In 1989 they released another album on Capitol Records called End Of The Day. By 1991’s swan song Pop Beloved they had returned to indie label DB Records, the same label that had released their Zeitgeist debut 6 years earlier.
In the mid-80s to early-90s heyday of Austin’s indie music scene, they were easily one of the most beloved bands and, perhaps, the one most poised to break through. But they never really did. The songwriting of frontman/guitarist/vocalist John Croslin, coupled with the vocals and guitar of Kim Longacre, backed by the rhythm section of Cindy Toth (bass/violin) and drummer Garrett Williams should have been part of a huge wave of bands that deserved to be as successful as REM.
In 2008 The Reivers reunited and since then have played semi-regularly. It was recently announced that the band, now known as Right Or Happy, have recorded a new album and are hoping to release it in 2012.
Oddly, The Reivers/Zeitgeist are a band that I’ve never had the chance to have on the radio in my almost 25 years on the air. And, oddly as well, they are a band that I’ve only ever seen live 3 times. I’m pretty sure that for a long time they didn’t even realize that I was on the radio because in those days there were a lot of bands that thought I was “that guy with the camera.” I took thousands of concert photos in those years and many touring bands that I would go see in Hoboken/New Brunswick/NYC would see me in the front with my camera.
There were obvious musical reasons why I liked The Reivers, but one of the things I loved about them was that they, like me, were Texas Rangers fans. I was told that they even booked a summer 1991 tour that followed the Texas Rangers around the country. I know because I spent a June weekend with them on that tour. As I recall, I saw them at Maxwells in Hoboken NJ on a Friday night, CBGB in NYC on the Saturday, and then met them at Yankee Stadium on Sunday afternoon to get last minute bleacher seats for a Rangers/Yankees game. And it was “Bat Day.” I believe I even warned them not to be too joyous when the Rangers did something good because we were surrounded by Yankee fans…and they all had a weapon.
By the way, if you’ve done the math you might be wondering about the “third” time I saw them play live. Well, it was actually in 1989 – making it the first time I saw them. That was in May of 1989 at The Green Parrot in Neptune NJ and they were supporting T-Bone Burnett.
Zeitgeist featured on the MTV program “IRS’ The Cutting Edge” (1985?)
The Reivers – In Your Eyes (from Saturday, 1987)
Right Or Happy at SXSW 2009
Right or Happy – Ragamuffin Man (live, 2010)