The Reivers: A Short History of a Band

The Reivers were a unique band in a number of ways. First, there was a certain musical chemistry among the musicians that permeated all their songs. You could hear in the music that they really enjoyed what they were doing and clicked as a band. There was a refreshing lack of pretension in the sound they created on album and in performances. These were people you felt you could walk up to on the street and talk to. Second, they put to good use unusual vocal arrangements. The interplay of John Croslin’s and Kim Longacre’s voices on songs such as “Freight Train Rain”, and “Blue Eyes” with Kim singing melody lines- in effect, using her voice as an instrument, was dynamic.

The Reivers’ first incarnation, Zeitgeist, originated in Austin, TX with a lineup that included: John Croslin– main songwriter, vocalist, guitars; Kim Longacre– vocals, guitars; Kelly Bell– bass; and Joey Shuffield– drums. Shuffield left the band during rehearsals and was replaced by Garrett Williams. Kim says “I met John when he was in The Make. He was in theatre classes with my sis, then he dated our roomie, and then my beau managed his band. Then I borrowed an amp from him when his girlfriend and I started a band called Coup de Bop…and then…the rest is history!” By the time their first self-titled E.P. was released on db Records in 1984, Cindy Toth had replaced Bell as bass player [see Kelly Bell’s reminiscence about those times in the 2008 Fan Stories section of this site]. Releasing the full-length album Translate Slowly the next year, they began to build a sizeable audience. In mid-1987 they were forced to change their name by a new age band which claimed the copyright. Choosing the name “The Reivers” (pronounced Reever, meaning Thieves or Raiders- from the Scottish “Reiffar”) from the title of a William Faulkner novel, they continued recording. Translate Slowly was later reissued with the new name on CD with additional tracks.

Their second album came out that same year. Called Saturday, it had a bigger, more powerful sound and showed a marked maturity in band interplay and composition. 1989 saw a further refining of their strengths and the release End of the Day. Pop Beloved, which would prove to be the Reivers’ final album, came out in 1991. They played their final show at Austin’s Cannibal Club later in the year. The road during the band’s career had been a rocky one. In a 1995 profile of John CroslinAustin Chronicle writer Ken Lieck writes:

“The record business troubles that plagued Zeitgeist/The Reivers from day one are legend in themselves…. what is mostly important is that circumstances led the group to an early breakup and Croslin far from the urge to start another band.”

After the breakup of the band, Croslin turned his hand to producing and engineering projects by other bands. The short lived ABC show Cupid (created by previous Austinite and Veronica Mars creator Rob Thomas) featured a character named after John called “Crazy Judge Croslin”. In 2006, he co-founded a new band called Fire Marshals of Bethlehem, which he left a couple of years later (amicably). The other Reivers have also been involved in various musical projects since the breakup of the group, as well as working day jobs.

In 2008, the Reivers reunited for a few shows in their hometown of Austin, TX and by the end of the year had added keyboard player Eric Friend and rechristened themselves under the new name Right Or Happy. Since then, they performed in Austin at least five or six times a year. After changing their name back to the Reivers in 2012, an album of new material titled Second Story (their first in 22 years) was released in January, 2013. They are currently on an indefinite hiatus.