Everyone loves a little Elephant Revival. No matter where or when in Colorado - or at an earthy music festival or intimate club somewhere else around the country - you are catching them, it's guaranteed to be a great show.
Eagle County residents and visitors have a chance to catch this authentic, exploding wonder of acoustic sounds and truthful lyrics at the Vilar Center tonight.
This unique quintet is not only extremely fluid and balanced but is equally difficult to put a label on. It's true that they hail from the Nederland jam-band /new grass tradition, along with compatriots Leftover Salmon and String Cheese Incident, but that only begins to define them.
"There's a lot of musical heritage up here that really started with the Caribou studios in the late '70s, early '80s, with this destination studio, and it was so close to the Denver/ Boulder region," said the band's Dango Rose (double-bass, mandolin, banjo and vocals). "You're not sacrificing quality of life to be tied into the music industry. We're not living in a New York, L.A., Chicago or even Boston or Nashville; we're up here in the mountains. We're plugged in, yet we're up here in Nederland. It's a totally beautiful thing."
And while Elephant Revival has made its name on the folk and bluegrass festival circuit and will appear this year at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, Rose said emphatically, "We're not a bluegrass band," despite the obvious bluegrass instrumentation.
"Our natural experience is our greatest musical influence," Rose said. "We're influenced by what's present and what we're engulfed in at the moment. We go to a festival, and more often than not, we're influenced by who's there, by what's current in our field. It grows - kind of like the Pandora genome project - there's so much new music out there. We pay a deep respect to our musical roots, but we're constantly learning and evolving."
More emotion, less jam
So while the band's vocals and instrumentation certainly have roots in bluegrass - and despite the notoriety gained at folk festivals, county fairs and jam-band circuits such as Yarmony Grass, the Oregon State Fair, Yonder Harvest Festival, Wakarusa, Mystic Hot Springs, UT, Mulberry Mountain Harvest Music Festival (Ozark, Ark.) and the Walnut Valley Festival (Winfield, Kan.), where the group first began to cross paths - the bottom line is that this group of up-and-coming musicians is too original to pigeonhole. The band focuses more on emotion than on showing off incredible jam prowess ... think more Bob Dylan and less David Grisman.
As they begin to heat up, the elements of jazz, psychedelic country, Texas swing, gypsy, Celtic and blues start to pour out. Singer Bonnie Paine (washboard, djembe, musical saw, stompbox) on her traditional washboard is mesmerizing with a melodic, sorrowful folk, occasionally known to impress with guitar solos, as well. Sage Cook plays banjo, guitar, mandolin, tenor banjo, bass and fiddle; Bridget Law is on fiddle and octave fiddle; and Daniel Rodriguez is on guitar, banjo and bass. All share vocals and write songs. Rose said their mission is "to close the gap of separation between us through the eternal revelry of song and dance."