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Monday, July 30

Elephant Revival: The YarmonyGrass Interview.

This coming Weekend (Aug 2-5) in Rancho Del Rio & State Bridge, CO, the Nederland, CO quintet known to us as Elephant Revival will put on two separate shows during the intimate, scenic and purebred Music Festival known as YarmonyGrass.  Alongside the likes of Michael Kang, and Railroad Earth and many others they will take to the stages standing in the beautiful Rocky Mountain region best known for their elaborate Winter Ski Towns. Here they will bring their home-spun Celtic-folk grass music, best defined only as heard.   
We were fortunate enough to get in some question with fiddle player and vocalist Bridget Law.  We spoke about the bands roots, their growing pains and the densely pure Colorado Music scene.

1. Although you all come from different parts of the country, you currently hail from Nederland Co. Historically, Ned is a bastion for folk, bluegrass and other types acoustic eclectic music. It's bred such bands as Leftover Salmon, String Cheese Incident, Yonder Mtn. String Band, and most recently, you guys, Elephant Revival. What brought you here?
Nederland is a magical place. Conveniently located, naturally beautiful and quaint. The frequent gathering of musicians is a highlight for us and many of the town, music is thriving in Nederland. Dan Rose 'Dango' had already been living in Nederland for some time when our band formed. His band before ours, High on the Hog was also based in Nederland and making folks dance at the historical Stage Stop in Rollinsville up until they resigned in 2004. It was Vince Herman of Leftover Salmon who convinced Bonnie and Dan to move to Nederland. The house next to his was open so they were all happy to be new neighbors. It was an eventful year on that block! Personally, as the Colorado native of the group, I (Bridget) find Nederland to be the best place to live in the state for all the reasons mentioned above and the great skiing in Eldora. As soon as I no longer had to commute to Denver for college, I hit the hills!

2. Tell me a little about how you met and formed?
We all met at different musical gatherings, Bonnie and Dan met on a rooftop in Mystic, CT and played music until dawn. Dango and I met at a bluegrass festival in Keystone, CO dancing in the rain. Bonnie and I met at the Walnut Valley Music Festival in Winfield, KS which is also where almost all of us met Sage except for Dan who met him at a Rainbow gathering in Colorado. And Dan and Dango met at a small bar in Ponca City, OK called Web's World of Fun while watching Bonnie's band with her sisters and James Townsend 'My Tea KInd'. The chemistry as a group felt natural but the music really brought us all together. After a few years of watching MyTea Kind and traveling together, Elephant Revival was the next step in making the music we all loved a living reality.

3. Do you prefer festivals to headlining shows? - Would you like to collaborate with anyone on the lineup at Yarmony Grass, if so who?
Festivals are so much fun! Collaborating and socializing with other bands is truly a highlight. As for Yarmony grass, we have been excited for this lineup all year! We love Railroad Earth and always invite Andy Goesling and Tim Carbone to sit in. Tim mentioned having me play some fiddle with The Contribution and I'm sure there will be chances for Bonnie to cameo as well. Also our good friends Fruition and Milkdrive are playing! I LOVE filling the fiddle shoes with Fruition when possible and we love having them sing with us expecially on our song Grace of a Woman. And last but certainly not least is the awesome musicians of Milkdrive! I grew up with those gentlemen am looking forward creating spontaneous string sections for some of our songs. We even have a duet fiddle tune we can play together!

4. ER fuses distinctly unique musical styles. Was it the differences in styles that attracted you to each other or was it the similarities? Or How do you write music that fuses such different musical styles? I understand that you are all involved with writing songs for the band, how does the songwriting process work? How do live performance play into the new music you create? What role if any does improvisation play in your songwriting?
Most of the music we play is original; not intentionally reminiscent of different styles but naturally so. We all write and bring ideas to the group and everyone creates their parts to compliment each other’s ideas. Often those parts develop over time through live performance and improvisation, when it feels really right it becomes part of the song. We do infuse different instrumental tunes from other countries and styles to create a worldly dimension, but for the most part the music is being created from a fresh perspective using the inspiration of nature and the world around us.

5. You call your music "transcendental folk" To the uninitiated listener, what exactly does that mean?
 I once heard Transcendental defined as 'thoughts pertaining to the beyond normal usually involving nature, myth and magic.' This seems to be a trend in our songwriting material. We also, like we mentioned before, seem to transcend genres of a music leaving our sound unique and difficult to describe in one word.

6. Follow up: What role does socially conscious thought, feeling, and behaviors play in the band? In addition to spawning some great local music, Colorado also is known to be forerunner in the environmental movement. Did this socially conscience mindset have anything to do with making Ned your home base?
 Probably so, I think the others in the group felt drawn to Colorado because of the more advanced thinking and living that folks of the state exude. We do our absolute best to be environmentally responsible and socially conscious. We are careful about using wasteful products, especially for dining but always. We burn biodeisel whenever possible. We support and invite local farmers to our shows and we spend as much time as we can enjoying in the natural treasures of our planet, frequently making stops to refresh ourselves in bodies of water.

7. What types of non-profits, charities, and humanitarian causes do you support?
 We have been working with Conscious Alliance to bring financial assistance to the Pine Ridge Reservations for 3 years now. We also work with Chad Stokes (of Dispatch and State Radio) and his non-profit  Calling All Crows in support of all their many awesome causes. We volunteered with a big group of fans at the food banks last spring. Calling All Crows representatives are always invited to table at our shows.  Helping spread information is a great incentive to doing what we do and will always be a part of our mission.

8. Shameless plug time, where can your fans see you this summer? Any new releases coming out soon? How can we get a hold of your music?
 We just released a songbook with all the chords, lyrics, notation and original artwork for all of our previously released material and what is to come in our next release. We have released 3 new songs that are available with the purchase of the songbook. The new music is on it's way but great work takes time...

9.Thanks so much for your time, we look forward to covering your TWO shows at Yarmony Grass. Is there anything else you would like to add?
Thank you. We look forward to playing for y’all!
Warmly,
.~Bridget Law of Elephant Revival
Interview by Gunnar Shroyer
 © Phish and The Dead - a Grateful Music Publication