Photo by Athena Delene
Elephant Revival has been turning heads for more than a decade. A staple on the Americana/folk/bluegrass circuit, the band has done so through captivating live performances and a half dozen albums, including its most recent release, Petals, in 2016.
In February, the Nederland, Colorado-based sextet surprised many when it issued a statement announcing that it would be going on hiatus following its forthcoming May 20 Red Rocks performance. Citing “family matters” and nothing more, winter tour was cancelled on little to no notice, as were a handful of festival dates. The band has just a few shows remaining before they take a break, one that founding member Bonnie Paine is calling “indefinite.” Jambands.com had a chance to catch up with Bonnie and bandmate Daniel Rodriguez this past week to discuss the hiatus, the upcoming Red Rocks performance and more.
You have persevered through a lot over the past few years, with two founding members, Sage Cook and more recently, Bridget Law, departing the band and the horrific bus fire in 2016. Still, the music on stage continues to evolve and remains as strong and powerful as ever. Is there anything further that can be said at this time to shed light on reasons behind the pending hiatus?
Daniel Rodriguez: Elephant Revival has been a band for over 11 years. Some of us were in relationships either playing music together, otherwise, or both. We didn’t necessarily anticipate a hiatus to come about, but through outside circumstances, we recognized the need for this to happen. Through this, we all have the opportunity to discover, uncover, and rediscover aspects of ourselves that may have been compromised from the dedication we all gave to making Elephant Revival work. Basically, it’s a growth period.
Following this weekend’s Winter Wondergrass performance in Tahoe, ER has just three gigs left, Merle Fest in late April and then Bluegrass in the Bottoms and Red Rocks the third weekend of May. What are some of the emotions you are feeling as this chapter of the band’s history draws to a close and how emotional do you anticipate Red Rocks to be for you personally?
Bonnie Paine: Of course there will be some sadness, maybe even devastation. I love the music and community Elephant Revival has created, and I will miss that for the indefinite amount of time that we are apart. There are immense feelings of gratitude and sweetness for all that we have experienced together and for the opportunity to share music in such an enchanted and embracing place as Red Rocks with people we love. My birthday is that day and much of my family will be coming up from Oklahoma so there will be celebratory feelings. There is also a kind of euphoric sense of freedom and excitement for the mystery and adventures to come.
Daniel: I can’t lie, it’s going to most likely be one of the most emotional events of my life. Playing Red Rocks already is an event like no other. On top of that, given the circumstances, while having all your friends, family, and fans in one place, it’s going to be emotional indeed. The current music and sound that Elephant Revival is putting out right now is my favorite evolution of the band. I feel like we were really coming to a unique a new territory. And the new material is material that I was very excited to put out to the world. From that perspective it is very emotional, as well. To see a body of work, go by the wayside, go on hold, or see the light of day in other projects — it involves a bit of a creative identity crisis. But ultimately, that is a healthy thing.
There are a lot of exciting things happening with the band’s current and former members at this time. Sage has been performing with his band We Dream Dawn for a few years now and Bridget, in addition to managing Sage’s project and Bonfire Dub, has been performing some with We Dream Dawn as well as with her husband in Tierro with Bridget Law. Dan, you’ve been out on the road a lot lately playing solo gigs, opening for Fruition, and appear to have been writing a lot of late. Can you speak a little about exploring life as a solo artist and how this path might translate to your future endeavors?
Daniel: I am lucky to have friends like Fruition who are big supporters in what I am doing. For the last 11 years, I’ve never considered myself in a position to hold an audience by myself. I’ve always considered myself in terms of a supporting role. As I tour with Fruition, I have been able to mingle a bit with audience members who have nothing but sweet and supportive things to say. It’s a wonderful and terrifying thing going out there alone in front of a large audience. But I have always felt that the songs need to be able to stand alone by themselves to be good emotive songs. So, I am getting to explore that, and I love new explorations that terrify me in great ways.
Bonnie, I know a lot of fans are going to want to keep in touch with what is going on with what you and the rest of the band are up to as well. Can you talk a little bit about what your immediate musical plans look like, and if you can speak to the others, what’s on the near horizon musically?
Bonnie: I will be playing just a few shows this summer, solo or with friends from Elephant Revival or other bands I love. Though mostly, I will be taking the time to cultivate songs and a garden and adventuring to places around the world that inspire this song story I’ve been writing for most of my life. There are about 26 songs that relate to each other so far, a few of them on the ER albums. My mom has offered to write out the story portion of it. Turns out she’s a very passionate and perceptive story writer and it’s been amazing to get to know her in that way. My hope is to someday have video projection and eventually live dancing and acrobatics depicting the story. I am looking forward to having time to let the rest of this story unfold.
As for Dango Rose, Daniel Rodriguez, Charlie Rose, Darren Garvey and Enion Pelta-Tiller, they will continue to be playing beautiful music solo or in various projects. Each one of them are likely to be making incredible solo albums, so keep your feelers out for those! I love the music that comes out of every one of them. Each member has or will soon have web pages up where we will post the shows we are playing, if you’d like to find out what any of us are up to.
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