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Holy Ghost Tent Revival brings raucous roots music to Legends

By Derek Halsey (

Article Published: Feb. 28, 2013 | Modified: Mar. 7, 2013
Holy Ghost Tent Revival brings raucous roots music to Legends

Greensboro-based Holy Ghost Tent Revival returns to Boone for a March 6 show at Legends.

Photo by Doug Seymour

Based out of Greensboro, Holy Ghost Tent Revival has morphed from an eclectic and fun quintet that mixed bluegrass influences with ragtime into a horn-driven soul and rock group with New Orleans-influenced grooves.

Gone is the banjo, as electric guitars have taken center stage in the band’s sound, which is backed by a steady and upbeat horn section. The group tours relentlessly, booking more than 300 dates a year on average and bringing its original jams to the masses.

On March 6, Holy Ghost Tent Revival will perform at Legends, located on Hardin Street on the Appalachian State University campus. Doors open at 9 p.m., and tickets are $5 for students and $8 on the day of the show and for general admission. The BYOB limit is six beers with an ID. Area band Swift Science will open the show.

The members of the Holy Ghost Tent Revival include Stephen Niall Murray, Matthew Elliott Martin, James Ross Montsinger, Kevin Williams, Henry Napheys Widmer and Charles Perkins Humphrey.

“We got caught up in the whole bluegrass and acoustic thing a few years ago, but we never knew that we were actually a rock and roll band in disguise,” Martin said. “I’ve wanted to expand my sound and go more electric, as my leads come through better than with an acoustic. You fill the room up with sound a lot more with two electric guitars, as opposed to an acoustic guitar and a banjo.

“Then, we started listening to The Band and got into that 1960s rock stuff and really got into The Kinks, and so (the change) kind of naturally happened. The banjo is not completely gone; it is just slightly broken. We need to get some Super Glue and fix it up. But, in general, the sound of the banjo was like a cheese grater in a room. We feel like we can sonically reach people in a bigger way with two electric guitars.”

For a long time, Holy Ghost Tent Revival was a quintet. But a year or two ago, the group grew to a sextet with the addition of Humphrey, a musician with local connections who is currently seeking his degree in Boone.

“Our trumpet player, Charlie, goes to Appalachian State, and this is his last year, so we’ll be able to have him full-time,” Martin said. “Our trombone player, Hank, has been by himself for a long, long time, so it is always good when he can get that partner of his up there. It really juices up the sound with a trumpet.”

When Holy Ghost Tent Revival kicks off a live show, the goal is to get the audience moving.
“We just want the crowd to dance,” Martin said. “We want to put on a tight, competent show and have some good times. Charlie will be able to come out with us for the show, and that is kind of a built-in crowd that we can expect. He knows everybody there.”

For more information on Holy Ghost Tent Revival, visit

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