Aspen Times Weekly: Elephant Revival’s Return
If You Go …
Who: Elephant Revival
Where: Wheeler Opera House
When: Saturday, March 4, 7:30 p.m.
How much: $30-$35
Tickets: Wheeler box office; www.aspenshowtix.com
More info: Bonfire Dub and Dead Horses will open.
Elephant Revival has played just about every venue in the Aspen area over the years. The Nederland-based folk quintet has headlined Belly Up and the Carbondale Mountain Fair, they’ve played the base of Ajax during the Hi-Fi Concert Series and, this weekend, they return to the Wheeler Opera House.
In the early days, a decade ago, they were another rag-tag Colorado roots music outfit — the kind that seem to sprout like weeds from the hillsides around Boulder — and barnstorming around the mountains in a converted school bus that ran on vegetable oil.
“We were wandering minstrels searching for a way to harness what we wanted to do,” fiddler Bridget Law told The Aspen Times during one of the band’s swings through Aspen. “For all of us, it was, ‘What’s next?’”
The band’s charismatic, soulful spin on acoustic music — sometimes dubbed “transcendental folk” — has won over fans far beyond Elephant Revival’s mountain town origins. These days, they play banner festivals and headline Red Rocks Ampitheatre but haven’t forgotten about the high-country theater circuit.
Elephant Revival traces its roots to Law meeting bassist Dango Rose in 2003 at a festival in Keystone and takes its name from a busking session in front of the elephant cage at the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago. The band officially formed in 2006 and released its self-titled debut in 2008, which was followed by a string of stand-out records and EPs (along with the live, Boulder Theater-recorded “Sands of Now”) and a lot of touring around the U.S. and Europe.
The band’s most recent album is last year’s “Petals.” Recorded in Boulder, it’s another gorgeous and eclectic effort from the band filled with dark-tinged folk and deceptively complex compositions. Their sound incorporates elements of bluegrass, traditional Scottish fiddle music, early Delta blues and jug bands.
Everybody in the band is a multi-instrumentalist: Bonnie Paine sings and plays the washboard, djembe and stompbox; Dango Rose plays bass, mandolin and banjo; Charlie Rose plays banjo, pedal steel and guitar along with some horns, cello and double bass; Daniel Rodriguez hops between guitar, banjo and bass.
“It’s about being a group, not about one ego. I always wanted to be in a band with more than one front person,” Law said. “I liked the way that looked.”
The music — and even more so, the concerts — are imbued with a hippie optimism that embodies the best of Colorado mountain culture. Of course, a bazillion roots and bluegrass bands have emerged out of the Centennial State in recent years, but Elephant Revival is a little different and proud of it.
“We’re much gentler, probably because of the feminine aspect,” Law said. “It’s not all about the party. It’s about something much bigger. We’re folk song-oriented, heart-oriented.”
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