Vail Daily Editor Don Rogers: Vilar’s Underground series introduces my new favorite band, Elephant Revival |

Vail Daily Editor Don Rogers: Vilar’s Underground series introduces my new favorite band, Elephant Revival

Don Rogers
Vail, CO, Colorado

I swear, I wasn’t going to write about the Underground Series again.

Once is enough, I agree. At least that’s what I thought before seeing Elephant Revival, the bluegrassy band from Nederland. That’s code for “Too Weird For Even Boulder.”

Yeah, baby. The Frozen Dead Guy. Hippies on steroids (natural organic ones, to be sure). My true love was a post-hippie-age hippie, only from the Midwest, so she still gets tears singing “God Bless America.” Cool girl, trust me. So’s the band.

This group does play that easy, green lawn, sunny Saturday afternoon at the summer festival friendly bluegrass. Smooth and easy and stirring those Kentucky roots, no question.

But they’ve got this other sound. Their signature song, “Ring Around the Moon,” is a great example.

Bonnie Paine – the washboard player, yes the washboard, and this girl kicks … on it – has this Natalie Merchant voice with a little extra, what? A kitten’s growl, a kind of yodel, a slipped vocal gear or grace note?

The song is original and fits the American folk genre, but it also goes to the old country, Druid, intense, transcendent.

We’re a family that loves Celtic music. My son and I posit bluegrass as the missing link between the misty isles and today’s popular country-western. (You don’t have to agree.)

Elephant Revival touches that for me. They made me an instant fan, much like Gaelic Storm did years ago.

The kids now are off in college in Durango and adult life in Reno. Their Mom was in upstate New York and missed this concert at the Vilar last Sunday. So I’m kind of bursting here.

I mention Gaelic Storm because that’s the last band the whole family fell for once everyone heard them. I think Elephant Revival will do the same. I can’t wait to introduce their music to the family.

There’s some devil in the Rogers, it must be admitted, and the fiddle is the devil’s instrument, surely. In the hands of Bridget Law, oh my – 666.

The boys are plenty good, too, and all take their turns leading this song and that. There’s a democracy of talent, which is not to say a mediocrity. These folks can play.

I don’t see how this group isn’t destined for great things, even if bluegrass is not so revered these days as, say, rap. Yes, that is a lament for our times.

So I tell you, I am so appreciative of the Vilar for introducing us to these musicians. Colin Hay, of Men at Work fame, is up for next Sunday.

The Dusty Boot, a sponsor, is offering a great meal deal with tickets to start the night, by the way. Eating there promotes the series and will only encourage them to do it again next year. Food’s not bad, either.

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