Rev Tor Band
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Rev Tor Band


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"Tor Krautter – Berkshire’s Rock & Roll Entrepreneur"

He comes into the bar at the Bousquet Ski Resort with the ability to fill a room. Immediately confident, he is not at all brash. After the usual introductions we sit down, finding our places at the table. It’s a great afternoon; bright and sunny with the first hints of warmer days to come. As we talk – he himself the subject under consideration – he unconsciously twists the long braid of coal black hair hanging over his shoulder and across his chest. Comfortable as he is behind a microphone onstage in front of thousands, in person, Tor Krautter is the essence of the soft-spoken man. However, when he begins talking about music, or the growing Berkshire jam scene, or his days following the Grateful Dead or his work with local and national musicians, his eyes are bright and the braided hair forgotten. As a boy growing up outside New York City, Tor worked in the family business; a florist company begun by his grandfather in 1945. He entered it fully, purchasing a farm in Stephentown – eleven acres with three greenhouses – that helped grow the business by growing the flowers. Of course, family farms always struggle to survive, even in good times. In a recession it’s harder still. “It was a couple of years ago, with the economy, they cut back the business and I pulled back from operating the way I used to,” he says.

Today, he’s taken that entrepreneurial spirit and rolled his resources into his new life as a full time musician. “There’s two things I know how to do,” he says with a smile. “One is grow flowers and the other one is play music.”

The family farm isn’t lying fallow, however. There’s a studio already functioning where his band, Rev Tor, recorded their last album, “Mystic Wolf.” In development are plans for one indoor and one outdoor stage. “We’re actually trying to turn it into a performance space to keep the property and the land viable,” he says.

The second thing he received from his family was a love for music, which began early. “I’ve played around as long as I can remember,” he says. He began on drums as a child and at the age of thirteen took up the guitar. “My father is an accomplished guitar player. He taught me, actually.” Playing in high school bands, he found his love for the music. After graduating, Tor made ‘the big trip’ to Los Angeles for two years of music school. However, the west coast metropolis was not his scene. “I loved the school, but hated L.A,” he says. Returning to the east coast he found his way to the Berkshires via a friend who spent summers in Stockbridge. In 1991 he moved to the area.

“The Berkshires always had a great, thriving music scene,” he says. He spent time meeting other local musicians, getting together to play with some, and forming bands. There is a reference to a very popular local bar in the song, “Their World” found on Rev Tor’s Jamazon CD. La Cocina, locally known as LaCo’s, was a greenhouse for music in the eighties & nineties. “That’s where I started to play music in the area,” he says. “Talk to almost any musician that’s old enough to have started when LaCo’s was around, and most of them will tell you that’s where someone finally gave them a chance.” In 1996 Rev Tor was born. It brought together the many styles of music that Tor enjoys playing.

“I have a pretty eclectic taste in music,” he says. “I got the country influence through my father.” The elder Krautter was a country musician, playing guitar around the campfire with family and friends. For Tor, like many who began playing guitar, it was The Beatles that struck that spark of rock and roll to his soul, but for him it was the Grateful Dead that fanned the flame.

“I think my eclectic tastes really came, more than anything, from being a Dead Head. The Dead were all over the board with styles. They weren’t afraid to play just about anything.”

He spent time following the band in the late eighties, even going backstage a couple of times thanks to the opportunity afforded by a mutual friend. When talking about the Dead’s writing and the darker vein of Americana reflected in songs like West L.A. Fadeaway and Hell in a Bucket from their In the Dark album, Tor notes that their lyricist, Robert Hunter, “…wrote American stories. I don’t think [listening to their music is] any different from listening to an old sea shanty. When you look at American music over the course of history we’ve been a violent people.” Ultimately, the draw for Tor was the musicianship and the writing – the Grateful Dead were artists reflecting the world they knew – from running the show on the road to being one of hardest-working – and hardest partying – bands in the city of Los Angeles.

As you listen to Rev Tor’s music, you’ll notice that very few songs on the CD are even the same genre. The band throws in everything from bluegrass, to reggae, to country, and jazz – finishing with the kind of rock and roll that’s good for driving with the top down and the volume up. I’ve heard rumor that the Rev Tor Band is not afraid of playing long, freestyle instrumentals as well. With the crisp guitar work and fluid musicianship evident on the CDs, someone like myself – who has yet to hear them play in concert – would do well to capture them in action.

Rev Tor has toured quite extensively on the east coast, traveling from Maine to Key West, Florida. “Honestly, a lot of travel came out of necessity more than anything else,” he says. “There was a time when there weren’t a whole lot of places to play around here,” but he’s quick to add, “It seems to be coming back now. There’s a very blooming Berkshire jam-band scene.”

As the Berkshire music scene has developed, the band has been staying closer to home, playing local gigs and being involved in the New England festival movement. The upcoming Wormtown Trading Company’s Strange Creek Fest at Camp KeeWanee in Greenfield, MA is a case in point. The event, May 28th – 30th brings together the bands Strange Folk & Max Creek as headliners. This three day festival will see more bands originating from Berkshire County than coming from any other single area. Besides Rev Tor being on the bill, festival goers will witness the likes of Domino Theory, Longview Gunslingers, and the Tony Lee Thomas Band.

It seems the benefits of being in a festival are quite numerous. As the discussion moves into the realm of production, our musician Rev Tor is subtly transformed into the entrepreneur and promoter Tor Krautter. It’s a change of identity with which he is both comfortable and willing. “Purely from a marketing standpoint, when you go on tour you try to get a bunch of people from all different areas to see you. When you go to a festival then they can come to you. It’s a great opportunity for a lot of people who’ve never seen you before, to go see you in one place. And…” he adds with a smile, “…you can get the work of a tour done in one day.”

“Aside from that,” he continues, “I think it’s just fun! There’s a great community atmosphere and a great camaraderie between the bands. It’s just this little micro-city where we are all in this together for that one weekend.”

A festival also presents new opportunities for the performers. Like musicians of all eras, playing with someone new while sitting around a campfire or onstage before an audience is an event not to be missed. “There’s a lot of cross pollination, I think. You end up sitting with other bands and letting some of the guys from other bands sit in with you. That’s part of the fun as well.”

And having that diversity of music and presentation draws a very broad range of people to the events. To have, for instance, a reggae group jam with a country band would just be part of the scene. “The audiences tend to be open-minded and accepting. If it’s good quality music and they can shake it to it, they’re going to like it whether it’s bluegrass or funk.”

Tor Krautter & the Rev Tor Band remain a strong presence in the region from the Hudson Valley to Springfield and from Connecticut to Vermont. Tor splits his Thursday night open mics between The Milltown Tavern in Dalton, MA and The Brew Works in Pittsfield, MA. In the next eight weeks he will do eight shows either solo or with friends. The Rev Tor Band has six gigs in the same eight weeks including the Strange Creek Fest. The band’s lineup has gone through some changes, as most bands will, but with the return of founding member Dan Broad on bass, the band is strong in its roots. Tor plays lead guitar and vocals, Scott “Goobs” Guberman is the keyboard man and Andy Crawford brings the beat.

There was a time when the Rev Tor band pursued the limelight, hoping for the big break into a larger arena. Today things are not about signing the big label deal. “We’re really not trying to be rock stars or anything,” he tells me. “We just want to play our music, make a little money and keep the stress level manageable.” He laughs, happy with the prospect. “We’re pretty content with where we are and what we’re doing.”

They had a lot of help with their newest album, Mystic Wolf, welcoming friends Jamieo (Allman Brothers), Mark Mercier (Max Creek), Fuzz (Deep Banana Blackout) , Scott Murawski, Gordon Stone, Jennifer Schultheis, Jason Webster, Stephanie Foy, and the Smelly Dog Choir as well as their regular lineup. The blend of talent and the level of musicianship makes this an album worth having.

It’s good to see Tor out on this sunny day. Talking with him has me thinking about music being played out in the open this coming summer. Live on the Lake, City Hall concerts, and Strange Creek are all about bringing the music into the sunshine. It just might be time to gather the picnic stuff together, wipe down the lawn chairs, and get this summer in gear. And for Tor Krautter, heading off to the gym, it’s just another day at the office bringing dreams to fruition and another night out on the town doing that thing you love.

Rev Tor’s newest release, Mystic Wolf, as well as other CDs, play dates lists, band t-shirts and the like is available by going to the band’s website at

"Live and Off the Beat-n-Track – Rev Tor Band"

The Reverend Tor Band wastes no time steering into familiar territory on its fifth offering, the live collection Live & Off the Beat-n-Track. A jangling rhythm is quickly and easily decorated with verses about a girl "who wore no shoes upon her feet" who is "barefoot dancing while the people stand still," conjuring a stereotypical image of free-flowing, shoeless dancer enthralled in a generic jamband melody. Followed immediately by a relatively unfunky take on "Free Your Mind" — the mid-90s pop hit written by Denzil Foster and Thomas McElroy, and performed by the sassy soul group En Vogue — it would almost seem that the opening double-shot could serve as both an introduction and an epitaph for a hard working band that actually has chops.
So little original substance found in the opening tracks might be deemed amateurish by fickle ears, despite the Reverend Tor Band's proven mettle on the stage over the years. Guitarist Tor Krautter, keyboardist Scott Guberman, drummer Johnny Chang and bassist Dan Broad came together in western Massachusetts in 1996, and since then, have subscribed to a rugged touring regimen that, while concentrated on New England turf, has exposed them to much of the East Coast. During that time, they have played a slew of shows both by themselves, as well as select dates backing up legendary blues man — and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee — Johnnie Johnson in 1999.
So it was with a patient ear that I continued past the early portion of the disc, focusing my attention based on the band's tenure in the music business. Frankly, I am glad I did. By the third track, "Get Your Own Road," memories of "Bare Foot Betty" and her shoeless shenanigans began to fade, traded instead for an increasingly robust and occasionally complex approach that flows through the end of the album. "Brother Christopher" is where guitarist Tor Krautter's bluesy glide begins to emerge, bubbling over locked-but-loose grooves. The centerpiece of the album is "Leaves," a slow pressure test pushed to multiple crescendos by breezy B-3 swells and six-string tension. This 11 minute workout also allows Krautter to flex his vocal chords, shifting between hushed harmonies to gruff wails. By "Lady of the Night," the quartet's natural ability to weave blues riffing into grandiose song structures is marked in the dramatic interplay within the quartet, emphasizing a patient approach and a shared knowledge of both when to play and when not to play.
Live & Off the Beat-N-Track, despite its false start filled with overplayed imagery and novelty-gone-bad cover, is a fine reflection of a hardworking band with a bluesy style and a penchant for brawny, far-reaching rock and roll songs. With a better balance from beginning to end, the album could serve as a showcase of the band’s true talents. Unfortunately, with such a sordid opening, newer listeners may not have the patience to make it to the meat of the album, where the band uncovers its inherent musical tenacity.

"Rev. Tor and friends on 'Jamazon'"

One of the most striking things about the Reverend Tor's new CD, "Jamazon," is how little actual jamming there is on the album. True, the album kicks off with the 12-plus minute "Inside Out of Control," with about eight or nine minutes worth of instrumental soloing. But it's one of only three songs that clock in over six minutes on the 11-song, 63-minute recording.

This is a good thing. Without well-crafted songs, jam-band albums tend to grow stale or irrelevant after the first listen. But the good news about Rev. Tor's new album, its fourth, is that it is built on the solid foundation of well-crafted songs written by lead singer-songwriter Tor Krautter, songs that touch down in a variety of genres, including blues, rock 'n' roll, bluegrass, country, western swing and horn-inflected r&b.

First-rate musicianship is supplied by a stellar cast of local and regional musicians as well as a handful of bona fide national stars, including Grateful Dead pianist and former Steve Reich sideman Tom Constanten, New Riders of the Purple Sage pedal steel guitarist Buddy Cage, whose sideman credits include Bob Dylan, David Bromberg and Robert Hunter, banjoist Gordon Stone, and Mark Mercier of Max Creek.

"Staring at the Sun" features harmony vocals by JoAnne Redding and a funky, three-man horn section provided by Charlie Tokarz, Jeff Stevens and Steve Ide. "Their World" has a Middle Eastern motif bubbling inside before exploding into a Southern-rock jam. With its reference to Pittsfield nightspot LaCocina, where the Rev. Tor Band and other regional groove outfits often perform, the song is sure to be a hometown fan favorite.

Krautter hits just the right jazzy notes on "Charlie's Obsession," a nod to Charlie Brown of "Peanuts" fame laced with Pete Adams's pedal steel guitar and delicious honky-tonk piano by Max Creek keyboardist Mark Mercier on top of swinging rhythms supplied by Bobby Sweet on acoustic guitar, Dan Broad on standup bass and Rick Leab on drums. Krautter's vocals range from a Garcia-like tenor to a Billy Joel like growl to a Greg Allman-like blues wail.

"Sorry But I'm Leaving" and the title track show that Rev. Tor is as solid handling newgrass as rock-based jams. It's hard to lose with first-rate players like steel guitarist Buddy Cage, pianist Mercier and banjoist Gordon Stone, who all take solos on the tune, but just as surprising are Krautter's acoustic guitar solo and producer Adam Michael Rothberg's work on mandolin.

If the jam-band thing doesn't work out, Rev. Tor has a future on the bluegrass circuit.

Some tunes, like "Lady of the Night," favor the twin-guitar attack of the Allman Brothers, with Bobby Sweet doubling Krautter's lead lines. The album ends with the quiet ballad, "One More Song," featuring Krautter on acoustic guitar with bass and piano provided by Rothberg. The sum effect suggests there is little Krautter cannot do and do well.

Not that "Jamazon" will disappoint jam-band fans. The kickoff track includes a space jam worthy of the Grateful Dead's signature space jams, with Krautter's dreamy, Jerry Garcia-like guitar noodling over Scott Guberman's drippy organ chords, before changing direction and incorporating some truly weird ambient sounds, before returning to the song's theme, which wouldn't be out of place on a Robert Cray album.

Reverend Tor celebrates the release of "Jamazon" in style with an all-day jam-band concert on Sunday at Bucksteep Manor (623-5535) in the town of Washington featuring the Reverend Tor Band and Friends, Mark Mercier and Scott Murawski, Electric Blue and the Kozmik Truth, Liberty Bus and Hobo Jungle. Gates open at 11; music is scheduled from noon to 9. The Rev. Tor Band plays a Jamazon preview on Saturday night at LaCocina in Pittsfield. - The Beat


In Search Of Ecstasy (Rev Tor Band) 1996
Whatever It Takes (Rev Tor Band) 1998
2000 Lives (Rev Tor Band) 2000
Jamazon (Rev Tor Band) 2002
Live & Off The Beat-n-Track (Rev Tor Band) 2004
Mystic Wolf (Rev Tor Band) 2008



Rev Tor Band was formed in western Massachusetts by front man Tor Krautter in 1996. Since it’s conception, the band has evolved into a power house on the east coast club and festival circuit, performing in venues from Maine to Key West Florida. In their native New England, the band keeps a heavy performing schedule enthusiastically supported by a large following of dedicated fans.

The group’s members are an eclectic crew of experienced professionals. Members of RTB have worked with the likes of The Band, Little Feat, Bill Monroe, Pete Seager and Arlo Guthrie. Together they have shared the stage with members of The Grateful Dead, Phish, The Allman Brothers, and New Riders Of The Purple Sage. They have performed at festivals and concerts with The Jerry Garcia Band, Los Lobos, The Funky Meters, Leftover Salmon, String Cheese Incident, Max Creek, Derrick Trucks Band and have toured regularly with Grateful Dead keyboardist Tom Constanten. They where even asked to back up legendary blues man and Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame inductee, Johnny Johnson for a few shows on his 1999 tour.

RTB’s large original repertoire feature funky, bass oriented rhythms and foot stomping percussion. Bouncy guitar lines pull the whole groove together and creates an entrancing state that makes ones body want to move. Soulful melodies are immediately memorable. Even the bands cover tunes have a distinctly “Torricized” feel and include B-side tunes from The Grateful Dead, The Allman Brothers and others.

The Band has 6 CD’s on Smelly Dog Records, “In Search Of Ecstasy”, “Whatever It Takes”, “2000 Lives”, The highly acclaimed “Jamazon” (witch features guest appearances by: Max Creek’s Mark Mercier, Grateful Dead’s Tom Constanten, Banjo Master Gordon Stone & NRPS steel guitarist Buddy Cage), Live & Off The Beat-n-Track” and the latest “Mystic Wolf” (featuring guest appearances by: The Allman Brothers Jaimeo, Max Creek’s Mark Mercier & Scott Murawski, Deep Banana Blackout’s Fuzz & Banjo/Pedal Steel Master Gordon Stone. All are excellent examples of their dedication and meticulous approach to the quality of their music. On stage the band’s energy is intense. These boys are not afraid to break a sweat and rarely have a problem getting the crowd on their feet. One club owner called them the hardest working band he’d ever met.

Tistrya Hamilton
Smelly Dog Productions
(530) 416-0214