Folk band Elephant Revival brings 'everything to the table'
When: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday
Where: Stargazer’s Theatre and Event Center, 10 S. Parkside Drive
Tickets: $20-$25; 476-2200, stargazerstheatre.com
The musician tucked behind the upright bass in the band Elephant Revival is appealingly humble. Dango Rose has every reason not to be: After all, he’s one-fifth of the increasingly popular five-piece folk and bluegrass band based out of Nederland, outside Boulder.
Individually and as a group, they've toured across the country and opened sold-out shows for Michael Franti, Little Feat, George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic, Leftover Salmon and String Cheese Incident, to name a few. They appeared earlier this year on eTown, the weekly radio show that tapes in Boulder and airs on National Public Radio, and a long string of tour dates are scheduled across the country through mid-April. The beginning of summer will find them playing the popular Telluride Bluegrass Festival.
“I don’t think it’s anything special,” he says of why the band has risen when others have not. “It’s an honesty that we bring to what we do. We’re not trying to fool anybody or ourselves. We bring everything to the table. ”
Lead vocalist Bonnie Paine might also have something to do with their burgeoning success. Paine, who also plays the washboard, owns an unforgettable voice reminiscent of singer Dolores O’Riordan of the alternative rock band The Cranberries, but with a vocal trill all her own. That and her black-gloved hands, which run up and down her grooved instrument, are not staples of your everyday band.
Elephant Revival's debut self-titled album was released in 2008 and "Break in the Clouds" came in 2010. Now their third offering, an EP called “It’s Alive,” is fresh from a Boulder recording studio. Parts of it are “a little more rocking,” Rose says. They play Friday and Saturday at Stargazer’s Theatre.
In synchronistic quirks of fate, the five musicians all seemed to meet each other either in random locations across the country or music festivals. Before he joined Elephant Revival, Rose played in an old-time string band. The other four members also have roots in Appalachian and bluegrass music, though he says they all listened to plenty of alternative and grunge rock as teenagers.
They officially became a band in 2006 and planted their roots in Colorado. Though often labeled as the emerging new genre “transcendental folk,” they resist categorization. Their sound is a time transportation device, though, and Rose believes it’s the acoustic and old time instruments they play: fiddle, washboard, upright bass, djembe, banjo, mandolin.
When they first got together, the folk-heavy sounds that emerged was a natural thing, he says. The years and exposure to each other’s musicality is a boon, which might be yet another reason the band’s audience is growing across the country.
“We’re just listening to each other more and more, and as a musician, that becomes one of the most important skills. Once you’re listening with bigger ears, a lot more possibilities unfold like how to approach songs from the bottom up,” he says. “Especially for a bass player, it’s finding the best way to support a mood or feeling. Ideally, that feeling is transferable to the audience. It’s all about creating a landscape or experience.”