It all started one night watching television with my husband. A commercial came on and my husband turned to ask me the artist’s name that was singing. I told him, figuring it wouldn’t register as familiar since he doesn’t tend to listen to this particular genre of music. His response surprised me. He smiled and said, “My friend’s in that band.” My husband’s known for trying to prank me occasionally so I immediately had decided this was what was going on in this particular moment. I told him I was on to him but he kept insisting that his friend was truly in this band. So I did what any skeptic would do and pushed him to prove it. Pulling out his phone and opening up the Facebook app, he did just that. My jaw dropped to the floor.
Michael Girardot is a home grown Austinite and has been a long time friend of my husband. However, he’s more popularly known as the Keyboardist and Trumpeter of The Revivalists. They went to high school together up north at Anderson playing in the marching band. Michael’s gone on to become well known in the New Orleans rock scene when not taking advantage of the delicious Cajun food and beignets at every corner. Now he sits in front of me in the Artist Lounge at the Austin City Limits Festival, a complete stranger and yet there’s so much history there that I was never aware of before.
I start by asking Michael about his return for Austin. He’s been living in New Orleans for years now but his family still lives in the city. He spent weekend one of the Austin City Limits Festival enjoying the music scene but this weekend, he says, is for family. He’ll get his fix of Tex-Mex before heading back home, one thing he misses about Austin. He may even visit mass before leaving, I didn’t ask him when his plane would depart. Michael grew up in the Catholic church singing in the choir, that’s where his love of music began. Over time, he found that his passion only grew. In fact it seemed that no matter what Michael encountered, he kept returning to what he loved most. And then he joined a band that would one day find their song across radio stations nationwide.
He tours a lot and if he’s not playing with The Revivalists, he spends time with his other musical projects on the side. Either that or enjoying the charming city of New Orleans with his new wife. He was living there when Hurricane Katrina hit and though the Loyola University campus wasn’t as bad off as other parts of the city, he did have to live with his parents here in Austin until classes could commence again. Now, he’s begun to start his own family. He recently got married in a beautiful Catholic church adorned with murals and gold. The photos of the chapel are simply breath taking. He’s a beaming newlywed, ready to see his wife again but not before one last show.
My co-worker Lisa and I get to the stage early so we can get a good spot. A crowd has already gathered but we manage to see the stage just fine. While we wait, I can hear Michael busting out a few scales on his trumpet. The band walks onto the stage with a roaring welcome from the crowd. Their first song, a hit that everyone knows. As fans sing along I can see Michael banging on the keyboard. It’s rocking back and forth with more energy than I’ve ever seen any other musician play with. I’m simply blown away realizing I was just talking to a musical genius mere hours before.
This is what makes me proud of our city. We have talent like this around every corner, talent that always returns to remind us again of why we’re the Live Music Capital of the World. Talent that finds itself in front of thousands at ACL.