Story by Dick Hildebrand
Photography by Jose Ed Ramirez
‘The Soulshakers’….an energetic party band that grew out of brotherly love! The year was 1996. Brothers Tony and Carmen Rivolta, whose family had moved to Windsor from Thunder Bay more than 2 decades earlier, decided it was time to get serious about the music they loved, so they put together a cover band…something that had been on their minds for a number of years. “We were young and had a lot of energy. Today we’re slightly older, but have more energy,” says Tony. So far it’s been a pretty good ride and ‘The Soulshakers’ are enjoying a growing, appreciative fan base.
The Rivolta family, according to the brothers, is a typical Italian clan with most of the relatives playing some sort of musical instrument. It’s no surprise then that the boys grew up with music embedded in their souls. “Every party, every important occasion like Christmas, weddings and birthdays were filled with music,” says Tony, “lots of accordions, pianos and guitars, lots of singing and dancing.” Tony was 9 when he learned how to play the drums. After a few years, he switched to the bass and with the help of his brother learned how to play it. Carmen, being an ambitiously driven guitarist, recalls that his first band was mainly a family affair, consisting of him, his uncle and cousins also on guitar/keyboards and his aunt keeping rhythm on the drums. Rounding out the ensemble was Tony on the bass. “We were the Italian Partridge Family,” he laughingly recalls. But people took them seriously and their first gig was a wedding at the downtown Cleary Auditorium, about six months after their first rehearsal.
“After that we played in a few bands that had a lot of original music. We travelled up to the Toronto area and did some showcases,” says Tony, “and the nice thing was that my brother and I always played together. We were members of a band called ‘The Publicans’ and were fairly successful. In time, though, we got sick of heading up and down the 401 and decided to come home and form a cover band to entertain our friends and family around here.” Today, ‘The Soulshakers’ are still ‘shakin’ em up on both sides of the river!
The brothers Rivolta are amazingly humble. Carmen credits Tony and their dynamic drummer Jack DiDomenico as being the driving force behind the band…“they’re the rhythm,” he says, “holding down the bottom end.” Jack, originally from Toronto, also had some success in the 80s with another band, ‘Tic Toc’, which released an album and videos. He’s married and is in the telecommunications business.
Fallon Deluca, described by her fellow members as “young, wild and free” is a talented, full-time musician with a recording background and provides lead vocals.
Carmen supplies his unique guitar licks and contributes to the lead vocals. Coincidentally, he’s just received an endorsement from Eastwood Guitars and will soon be playing that company’s ‘Rivolta Combinata’ Model. He’s a self-employed tile and flooring contractor and specializes in the construction of new homes and renovations. After more than 30 years in the business, he’s very popular with area contractors because of the detail he puts into his work. Needless to say, he is a busy guy…but as he says “never too busy for music.” He’s married and the father of two kids.
Brother Tony is the band leader. He plays the bass, handles all the group’s social media and bookings through his agency Rivolta Entertainment Group. He is happily married, the father of two and is the produce manager at Zehr’s in Lasalle with more than 30 years service under his belt with the Loblaws Company Ltd.
The group is constantly evolving in order to stay fresh. “We’ve made a lot of changes,” says Tony. “When we first started off we were a classic rock band and generally played whatever the clubs were calling for at the time. Today we’ve developed our own mix of personal musical influences, presented in a modern way. Our sound focuses on our love of 80s pop rock and new wave like Depeche Mode and The Cure. We also include songs from nostalgic artists like David Bowie, U2, No Doubt, the Eurythmics and many more, as well as dance music from the 90s to today’s modern hits. You will literally dance and sing along to just about everything we can dish out.”
The shows are different from what you’d expect from a cover band. Instead of just seeing the band, audiences are treated to an audio-visual show…each song has a special background visual component…resulting in a concert-like atmosphere. “We want to be as involved as possible with our audience,” says Tony, “and we like to bring the party to them.” Consequently, you’ll only find ‘The Soulshakers’ at selected venues in Windsor. They specialize in festivals, large corporate and private events, and are regulars at upscale nightclubs, most of which are in the Detroit area. They’re on a regular rotation at Motor City Casino and MGM Grand in Detroit. The group is unionized so members are able to cross the river and perform in the U.S. However, they don’t ignore their own country. Early this year, they performed at the Autism Gala at the Caboto Club before an audience of 1500. They’ve been featured at the Strawberry Festival in LaSalle and played the Carousel of Nations on Erie Street later in June. In July, they were headliners at the Amherstburg Ribfest. In total, this band has booked nearly 80 dates for 2019, which is promising to be one of its busiest years ever.
The band gets together, religiously, every Tuesday evening for rehearsals. Members are constantly working on new material to keep their show fresh and lively. Once on stage, they make sure that if you see a show on Friday night, you will not hear the same set list the following evening. Their repertoire of nearly 200 songs guarantees an excellent variety and their rapport with the audience ensures a successful party atmosphere. The target audience ranges in age from the 30s to the 50s, with a growing number of younger people joining the fan base.
Stay in touch with ‘The Soulshakers’ through Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Twitter. Log on to thesoulshakers.ca and check out the links for biographies and other information on this exciting group. To book the band call 519-919 SOUL (7685).