Psychedelic-Gospel-Funk! Three words you don’t see grouped together all that often. In truth, the sound of The Relatives is so much more. Formed in 1970 by veteran Dallas Gospel singer Rev. Gean West and his brother Tommie, The Relatives’ sound bridges the gap between traditional Gospel, Soul and Psychedelia. In the early 1970’s, they recorded three obscure singles and a previously unreleased studio session-all of which were compiled on the acclaimed 2009 anthology, Don’t Let Me Fall (Heavy Light Records). The release of Don’t Let Me Fall brought The Relatives back together as a band, planting the seeds for their brand new 2013 Yep Roc release, The Electric Word, which was recorded and produced in Austin, TX by Jim Eno of Spoon.
Known for powerful original songs and searing stage show, The Relatives’ reputation survived their 1970’s hey dey, but the group did not, recording their final session with legendary engineer Phil York in 1975 and disbanding in 1980. With only a cracked copy of The Relatives’ “Don’t Let Me Fall” single to go on, Heavy Light Records tracked down Rev. Gean in 2009 and began the process of reissuing the band’s vintage recordings. Rev. Gean calls The Relatives’ rediscovery and resurgence, “nothing short of a miracle.”
After a stunning, sold-out 2009 reunion performance at the Continental Club in Austin, The Relatives began performing regularly again, barnstorming major festivals and venues worldwide, taking their incredible stage show and four-part harmonies to Lincoln Center, ACL Fest, Bonnaroo and Splendour in the Grass. Summer 2011 found the group in southern France, where they appeared at the Cognac Blues Passions festival, collaborating with a 30-member French community choir for an impassioned performance of Relatives originals. 2011 also saw The Relatives combine forces with Garage/Soul powerhouse Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears to record “You Been Lyin,” which appears on the BJL album, Scandalous.
With the addition of former Black Joe Lewis drummer (Matt Strmiska) and guitarist/ musical director (Zach Ernst) as full-time members, The Relatives cut the Electric Word, their first recording in over 30 years, in the summer of 2012 at Public Hi-Fi Studios in Austin, TX. Still helmed by the West brothers, The Relatives’ current incarnation is the most powerful generation of this musical family to date. The stage is set for miraculous things.