Elephant Revival returns to Aspen

Mar 2, 2017

Credit Lisa Siciliano

On Saturday, the Wheeler Opera House and Belly Up Aspen will co-present Colorado folk band Elephant Revival for their return to the valley.

The transcendental folk band is known for using an eclectic assortment of instruments. Take vocalist Bonnie Paine, who’s responsible for sounds coming from the cello, washboard, djembe, musical saw and the stompbox.

It’s been almost a year since Elephant Revival’s fourth full length album Petals came out. The music video for the album’s single dropped just last week. And it’s artistic. But Paine said the crowd Saturday can expect even more energy from the band’s live show.

“We usually start out a little bit gentle and then we grow from there. And then bust out the louder more ruckus stuff later on in the night,” Paine said.

Opening bands on Saturday are Denver’s Bonfire Dub, followed by Milwaukee-based modern roots band Dead Horses.

Here's more from reporter Claire Woodcock's conversation with Paine:

CW: What can people expect from your upcoming performance at the Wheeler?

BP: It'll be... bases and guitars and wash boards and cellos and saws and fiddles and mandolins and drums. Some howling, maybe? We usually start out a little bit gentle and then we grow from there ... and then bust out the louder more ruckus stuff later on in the night.


CW: Elephant Revival’s most recent album came out about a year ago. How do you think it compares to past endeavors?


BP: It's definitely a little more edgy, there's different tones. It's the first time I've played cello on an album. And then we have some drums on it, not like a full on kit set or anything, but we kind of wanted a more symphonic approach of percussion. Charlie Rose is playing pedal steel for the first time, so that's different.


CW: How does the sound from Elephant Revival’s album carry into live performances?


BP: I do get the comment like, “Man I like your live performance a lot better than your album,” and I’m like, “Well, I guess that’s better than the other way around, right?” It’s usually followed with, “I really like your album, but to see you live it’s like to actually see the energy, feel the energy and the interaction. I get that too. I like seeing the actual live interaction and seeing that a band can actually pull off what they’re putting out.


CW: So the new music video for the single on your latest album came out last week. Why now?


BP: It incubated for a while. There was a lot of different artist perspectives being woven into it.


CW: What’s going on in the video?


BP: Laura Goldhammer spearheaded the whole thing. We were storyboarding, writing out the story, and we got to the ballroom scene and Vince Harmon pulled up from Leftover Salmon. He said, “Hey, we’re playing the Stanley Ballroom, you want to come sit in?” And I said, “Well yeah, but we’re making this music video and we’re trying to figure out the ballroom scene, maybe we could do it there?” So he got that all worked out. Leftover Salmon was having a show where everybody dresses up in 1920's clothes so everybody was already dressed up for the ballroom scene. We snagged mostly members of Gypsy Moon and got them to dance around all these amazing Lakota drummers. That became my favorite scene, it's so beautiful.


CW: What about instrumentally?


BP: So the crashing sound is actually a bunch of big heavy chains being dropped into a bucket. I think we also use the electric cello on that part.


CW: What do you want the crowd to take away from the show on Saturday?


BP: Just as far as all the chaos that's going on in the world, just remembering that we're all part of the same thing and to be kind to each other.


For ticket information, visit wheeleroperahouse.com