It’s a great time to be mayor of Hamilton, even for just one day.
Hamilton native David Shaw not only is leader of a band that is climbing the nation’s pop charts — currently at No. 85 on the Billboard Hot 100 and rising — but he also will be mayor of hometown Hamilton on Sept. 9 without facing the rigors of an election.
While mayor, “I’m going to have to find some kind of honorary law to pass,” Shaw said with a chuckle. “I haven’t figured that out yet, but we’ll see.”
The Journal-News caught up with Shaw by phone recently, as he drove from Baton Rouge to his current hometown of New Orleans, to find out what life is like these days for the man who’s riding a wave.
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The Revivalists’ “Wish I Knew You” reached No. 1 in the Adult Alternative Radio last fall, and No. 1 in Alternative Radio this May. The seven-piece group performed two songs last month on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!,” among other recent national-show performances.
“To be on that (Hot 100) list is like insane to me,” said Shaw, 34, about basically what is comparable to the former Billboard Top 40 listings. “I never thought that our music would be on the Hot 100 list. Never in a million years.”
He suspects the fact that an alternative, roots-influenced band like The Revivalists is on that list maybe musical tastes are shifting toward more authentic, less pop, tastes: “We’re going to just take this and ride this wave for as long as we can do it. We’ve been on our own wave for 10 years, so it’s cool this kind of a thing is getting some mainstream success.”
These days, “I’m taking more pictures with people in the grocery store,” Shaw said.
In asking for shared selfies, people say to him, “I don’t want to be that guy,” or, “I’m not that girl who does this, but I have to do this,” he said with a laugh. “It’s funny. It’s cool. I like it. It’s all good. More and more people are recognizing me, and recognizing the band, and it’s becoming a thing.”
The crazy thing about the recent fame is that the album the music is on came out in 2015. It’s the band’s third, which is called “Men Amongst Mountains.” A fourth album is about to be made.
What might surprise people most about the rock-band life?
“You constantly have to work at it,” he said. “It’s not something where it’s like, ‘OK, yeah. I’ve got this record deal. Everything is going to be all right.’ It’s not that at all. It’s actually quite the opposite of that, because, guess what? Now you’ve got to perform, and now you have to deliver on your part of your obligation.”
“They say, ‘Here, we’re going to give you this money, but guess what? You’ve got to give us something that we can sell,’” he said. “So, it’s a lot of hard work. It’s a lot of hard work. I don’t think I realized how much hard work it would be, and I’m all for hard work. That’s the only kind of work I’ve done: I’m a construction worker. My dad had his own company in construction, I worked for him, and I’m pretty accustomed to hard work, so it’s nothing new.”
He will be host Sept. 9 of David Shaw’s Big River Get Down festival while mayor.
Shaw, a 2001 Hamilton High School graduate, who grew up on Brookcrest Drive on Hamilton’s West Side, said his youth, with a nearby creek and park, as well as friends who lived close, “was kind-of your quintessential, Midwest, small-town upbringing,” he said. “It was a great little neighborhood.”
The son of Silas and Donna Shaw, and younger brother of Christy and Joy, gets back to town 2-3 times a year.
Out of high school, he attended Miami University Hamilton, before moving to Columbus State Community College for three years and then attending Ohio State University for two years, earning a degree in business management with an emphasis on construction management.
Out of college, he moved to New Orleans, where the company he worked for installed gas lines throughout the city following Hurricane Katrina.
About two weeks after moving to New Orleans in 2007, he was on his Uptown front porch, playing guitar, near the campus of Tulane University, “and Zack (Feinberg) rides by on his bicycle, and we struck up a conversation, and started our band from there.”
The past six years, the same core of seven guys has been together. The band features all-too-rare trumpet and saxophone, as well as three guitarists (including him), drums, keyboards and bass.
“I think it works so well because we all kind-of come from different backgrounds,” Shaw said. “Each person kind-of has their spotlight in the songs, and everybody is musical enough to know, ‘Yeah, this is going to work,’ or, ‘This isn’t going to work.’ So we all come together on the songs, and do our own little thing. Everybody’s got their own melodic gear, and over the years, we’ve whittled that into a fine-tooth comb, to where we really see what works and what doesn’t work.”