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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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...
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.
And what did I wear, you ask? Why, the long-awaited and almost forgotten Birthday Dress of 2010, of course.
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...