Wednesday, April 6, 2011

These hearts, these dreams, these webs we weave...

You may have noticed before, that there's a band we have much love for called Elephant Revival, a self-described transcendental folk group that hails from the mysterious-sounding Nederland, Colorado.

For such a small place we are very lucky out here to have so many awesome bands come play here, though part of the appeal for them (other than Island travel) must be that we always put on a good show. We are an Island of music makers and lovers and enthusiastic and unabashed dancers, which I imagine must make playing here a blast.
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Elephant Revival holds a special place in the Islands hearts it seems, and it's always a mob scene when they play: older folks seated on one side of the hall, the young stomping their feet and twirling like tops, little kids in the front, folk from the other Islands and the mainland mingled with Islanders, the band lit up by the glow of all the love in the room and maybe too, because for a night they have were a part of the community.
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Last Sunday's show however, may have been their finest with us yet. Epic. Magic. Awesome-tastic.

For the last few shows they've been playing the songs from the album they just released, Break In The Clouds (get it here), and we already know all of those by heart (especially anyone who works or eats at the restaurant I waitress at. We play it pretty much non-stop). So now that the album's out, they actually played almost half all new tunes. Is there anything better than your favorite band suddenly pulling out a stock of new songs, each as amazing as the next?

And the band seemed just as excited to play them as we were to dance to them.
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The show was fun, it was emotional. The band is amazing, as musicians, as people. They just radiate kind vibes and realness. There's no distance between them and the audience.

And they have such talent. They're all multi-instrumentalists, swapping instruments on the go, a kind of "you-play-the-banjo-in-this-one-and-I'll-play-the-stand-up-bass"-thing. Although Brigit most almost plays the fiddle, because she is just untouchable. They all sing and write songs, so that there's no lead singer, no star. This whole band is a strange kind of alchemy of perfect melodies, lyrics, arrangements, voices. They all play equal parts in their collective sound.
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Well, almost. Because then there's Bonnie Paine. Oh my Goddess, Bonnie Paine. We are like all in love with her. My friend Callie put it rather succinctly when she whispered to my ear: "I could just listen to her forever. I wish she would come to my house and sing me to sleep." She has this voice that seems to speak straight to your soul and when she sings she wears this smile that radiates across the room. Not to mention that she plays both the washboard and the saw. The girl has washboard solos. Enough said.
(image from here)
(image from here)
Their melodies pull from all different folk-traditions, ranging from Celtic influences to Americana, to Moloko-covers and their lyrics, no matter which band member's pencil they came from, always reverberate with real emotion and insight. It's hard to pick favorites among so many beautiful, eloquent songs.
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So you get it, fine, I like this band and they played an awesome show. Big deal, right? The thing is though, that it is a big deal. One of the only truly connecting collective experiences that still remains a part of our increasingly divided, solitary, small-unit lives, is listening and (unless you're in a crowd of Canadian hipsters) dancing to live music. For a moment you can be both connected to the people around you on an level beyond words and transported from your everyday experiences. There's a kind of primal magic to it. As though you're taking part in a ritual that has been performed between people since the dawn of time (unless you're in that same crowd of Canadian hipsters).
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It's important to remember occasionally, or often, hopefully, that there are bigger things at work in the world than the sometimes mundane that surrounds us on most days; good, mystical, magical connections, like-minded folk, subversive, funny, loving, glowing with internal light. That anything that connects these separate of islands of this "alternative" America, be it a band, a newsletter, a blog, an experience, makes this sometimes sad and desperate world of ours that much better.
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Speaking of good things: this wouldn't be my little frivolous log, if there wasn't at least SOME talk of dresses in every freakin' post, right? On top of singing like celestial beings and playing their instruments like the possessed, Brigit and Bonnie also know how to rock a dress (Not to be discriminatory here. I'm sure that when absolutely necessary Daniel, Dango and Sage also know how to rock a dress.). They have performed in Gunne Sacks, laces and African batik and Brigit owns the most awesome pair of rainbow rubber boot I've ever seen, so it's hardly surprising that the two sported some beautiful frocks on stage.
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That the one Bonnie wore is actually this dress, just goes to show how entirely perfect she is. I hope you realise there's a little bit of sarcastic self-awareness in my unabashed gushing. Good. Sometimes I wonder...
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Having been there a few times now to help set up lights and chairs and the like, I continue to be mesmerized by how socially awkward I can be in the presence of people I admire. It's kind of cringe-worthy, really. Thank goodness for Brigit who's always gone the extra mile to make me feel less so.
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And what did I wear, you ask? Why, the long-awaited and almost forgotten Birthday Dress of 2010, of course.
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You can listen to parts of the show here. The last song is totally killer. There's a chance you can hear me and C. hollering out our appreciation (anytime you hear a really loud "Thank you!" it's usually my honey;) (Oh man, I'm listening to it as I type this and not only is it wicked, but you can totally hear my very own hysterical, hyper giggle on the background of some of the semi-lame jokes the band members make between songs. Good times.)

Now, do tell me of some transcendental musical experiences of your own...

20 comments:

  1. Sounds amazing! I'd like to check out their album. I've had so many transcendental live music experiences, made all the more poignant by the fact that most of those venues are now gone. Tomutonttu from Finland at the physics room last year was probably my fave. I hope that there's a future for experimental music in Christchurch.

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  2. Oh, my eyes watered a little reading this! I remember your post mentioning the Canadian hipsters...and the photos of them standing stock still to the music. What a missed opportunity for them to dance it out. Pooh to those peeps. I think you're right about the connectivity of live music, it pulses and talks and energises and lifts the soul man. i most certainly concur. Gooood post. And you looked ridiculously amazing in your birthday dress btw.
    x

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  3. OMG THAT DRESS YOU ARE WEARING REQUIRES ME TO LEAVE A COMMENT IN ALL CAPS. okay, i'll stop. but dude. that dress!!!!!!!!!!!!!! *dramatic pause, deep breath* okay. i was like all in love with the rest of the post and the music and the dancing and alla that and then BAM outta nowhere you show up in that dress with the orange background and then i died. i think Elephant Revival played a few times at the pub i worked at before i had kids. they look so familiar.

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  4. oh! and i'm so glad you got your package and liked that jacket. i saw it and immediately thought of you. and jackson says he's glad you like his heart. he was so serious when he said he wanted to send "his friend something, too".

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  5. Daaaaaang girl why you gotta look so good?? and i'm so grateful for the music you share. thank you.

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  6. There's a great band from right here in Ottawa called The Hammerheads, and they're this great mix of 70's funk, reggae, old school rap, jazz and traditional African music. They somehow manage to weave all this together into the most amazing, dance worthy, soul lighting tunes. I've seen them live twice now and I can't wait to see them again! http://www.thehammerheads.com/

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  8. Ummmm- in my last comment I totally said where we live. Duh. Take two!

    Milla,
    That's a fancy birthday dress you have there! It's very pretty. It must be such a rush to have a band that you love come to the island. I was chatting with a friend who lives in Spokane and she had *just* seen The Head and The Heart- I let myself run away with ideas of them coming to the island. Obviously I didn't make it, but you saw what I wore anyway :)

    Love,
    C

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  9. Guess what I'm listening to? I'll give you a hint... Harvest Nettles!!!... haha, you're so cute :D

    Ok, my excitement about Sunday has officially reached epic proportions!

    And I'd like to echo that you look ABSOLUTELY AMAZING in that dress!!!

    Gosh, transcendental live music experiences, I know there have been many but one is standing out at the moment. The Bridge School Benefit in 2004 hearing Neil Young and his wife, joined by Eddie Vedder, sing Harvest Moon under a black sky and a very bright moon indeed and then shortly after hearing Paul McCartney do the most beautiful rendition of Blackbird. This was about a year after my Dad passed away. I remember it just about breaking my heart open.

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  10. So if i had not heard your gushing over this band before and thought to myself, "I really should check them out," I must (and shall) do it now! Happy to see that no love was lost for fashion either :) Love the choice of dress!

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  11. oh milla, this is so wondrously MAGICAL!!! i agree with brigit, the post was so fun and so exciting (espesh as i am getting ready to go see them and indulge in hopefully a similar experience myself, YIPPEEE) and then you get to the end and YOU and THAT DRESS and i practically wept with overwhelming joy and refreshment. it is just purely good to see your face and your flair and your open-heartedness. i am listening to the live show all day today, thanks for the link. the whole thing sounds amazing and i just heard "harvest nettles" too! (must be you?!) and i love hearing charlie's voice occasionally too. they sounds oh-so FUN, sweet, and true blue folky magic. i love the clapping and stomping. your island sure knows how to host a delightful little band of traveling musicians. i am totally in love with that second song that you quote for your title, and the one about the southwest of course hits my heart! and oh what a beauty and radiant soul is miss bonnie! my heart is all aflutter over this whole shebang!

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  12. You look gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous in that beautiful dress!
    And I can't believe Brigit/Missa's dress either. Heaven.
    Oh girl, as I already said, this is the perfect music listening to scenario. I have fantasized about such moments. Thank you for bringing ER into my life :-)

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  13. so many incredible music-related moments in my life! <3 i love that you brought this up and loved reading about the refreshing abandon your island dwellers bring to shows. here in sf...it's not like that at all. but that's not to say i have not had some transporting experiences at shows, even big ones and i've been to, booked and put on a ton over the years.

    the biggest that comes to mind right away was back in 2002, when paul mccartney toured and was playing almost all beatles songs. (missa, i was at that bridge show too, btw!) anyway, george harrison had just died that winter and i decided i HAD to see paul, even if he was gonna be a cheeseball, and even if i was kinda jaded and not into going to a huge amphitheater from going to so many indie shows, because he's nearly the last beatle left and he wrote so many of the songs. i went, not expecting anything at all and was FLOORED by the mystical experience that i had.

    the beatles literally transformed my life when i was an 8 yr old and first saw the movie help. from there i learned to play records on the turntable, etc. and i became a beatles obsessive till my late teens and then transitioned to eventually working with music, which has become my life and career for the past 8 yrs. it sounds silly but through their music i have been led in one way or another toward the person i have become, to make a long story short.

    anyway, getting to the gist of things, i hadn't listened to or thought about the beatles much in a while before i went and that show absolutely blew my head back. i found myself actually crying, laughing, joyful, all at the same time and even feeling like i was floating. i have never felt anything like that before or since (and i promise, i was sober! :)! i was so wrapped up in his voice and the melodies and all they had meant to me throughout my entire life and was tripping on the fact that i was in a room with 30,000 other people feeling some measure of that, too. music truly can alter the consciousness of those who are listening in the best ways possible. it's amazing.

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  14. eddie and i just went to see a show on tuesday, like real life adults who don't have to worry about whether it is a school night. i am so used to getting my live music played in the living room on an acoustic guitar that i sometimes forget the power of a group of folks listening to loud live music together. it makes me especially happy to see people all uninhibited and dancing, especially men (i think because they are less likely to do so in general?).
    you in that dress is a thing of beauty. and i love picturing charlie shouting spontaneous "thank you"s to the band. off to listen for myself...

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  15. Wow! I can't wait to listen to them!!! I really wish that music was my gift- the multi instrumentalist type! But... not so much! A little good at everything- not superb at one thing! So it goes. Sounds like a magical night and can't wait to hear your giggles from band jokes!!! :D And LOVE your dress!!!Happy Friday lil' lady!!!

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  16. OH MY WORD!!! I've been listening to that podcast and they are FANTASTIC!!! Thanks so much for sharing! :D

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  17. I wasn't sure how to describe the kind of musical artist I want to be until I listened to Elephant Revival. Their sound is almost exactly the sound I'm going for! Now I know what I am (musically;)... transcendental folk music is my joy!!!! And all the dresses are beautiful. Thanks for sharing!

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  18. i'm listening to the music you posted and it is SO great thankyou for sharing it! i am always so overjoyed when i hear good new good music.

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