UMB Bank Presents
Elephant Revival and Carolina Chocolate Drops
1007 York Street
Denver, CO, 80206
Doors 6:00 PM / Show 7:00 PM
"Where words fail … music speaks."
That simple line atop Elephant Revival's Facebook page contains only five words, but reveals volumes about the band's reason for being. Music unites us in ways that no other medium can. Even when we don't understand one another's languages — we can be moved by a rhythm, soothed by a song. Brought together by a unified sense of purpose — the spirit of five souls working as one, in harmony, creating sounds they could never produce alone.
The five souls in Elephant Revival are Sage Cook (banjo, guitar, mandolin, tenor banjo, bass and fiddle); Bridget Law (fiddle, octave fiddle); Bonnie Paine (washboard, djembe, musical saw, stompbox); Daniel Rodriguez (guitar, banjo, bass); and Dango Rose (double-bass, mandolin, banjo). All share vocals and write songs. Paine delivers additional beats via footstomps on plywood, her stockinged feet doing near jigs as her hands, encased in antique leather gloves, rub silver nickel against corrugated metal.
This Nederland, Colo., quintet are, needless to say, quite a sight to experience — especially when they fall into the pocket of a groove containing elements of gypsy, rock, Celtic, alt-country and folk.
The Indie Acoustic Project simply labels their sound "progressive edge." At least, that's the category in which it placed the band when it gave their Ruff Shod/Nettwerk Records release, BREAK IN THE CLOUDS, a best CD of 2011 award. It's as good a label as any to convey what Rose has described as their mission: "to close the gap of separation between us through the eternal revelry of song and dance."
Elephant Revival also shares a commitment to responsible stewardship of the planet and its inhabitants, working with organizations such as the Conscious Alliance, Calling All Crows, Trees Water & People, and other nonprofits supporting humanitarian causes. Their very name was chosen out of empathy for a pair of zoo pachyderms who, upon being separated after 16 years, died on the same day. The band related that heart-rending story during their April 2012 debut on fellow Coloradoan Nick Forster's internationally syndicated "eTown" radio show — like Elephant Revival, a blend of music and social consciousness.
Sitting in the audience during their performance, one music blogger was moved to write, "Elephant Revival serenaded the crowd with arabesque melodies, harmonies and rhythms that braided and coiled into a sublime aural tapestry. Their instrumental dynamics, verse, and even the harrowing story that inspired their appellation, invoked the majesty, mystery and sorrow of Mother Earth."
Campout for the Cause festival organizers put it this way in an affectionate shoutout on their Facebook page. "We love Elephant Revival so much," they wrote, "not just for their incredible music and conscious lyrics, but for their commitment to living up to the standards they set forth and setting positive examples."
It's a paradigm worth spreading, and that's what Elephant Revival members intend to continue doing as they carry their music around the world, speaking one song at a time.
Carolina Chocolate Drops
With their 2010 Nonesuch debut, Genuine Negro Jig—which garnered a Best Traditional Folk Album Grammy last year—the Carolina Chocolate Drops proved that the old-time, fiddle and banjo-based music they’d so scrupulously researched and passionately performed could be a living, breathing, ever-evolving sound. Starting with material culled from the Piedmont region of the Carolinas, they sought to freshly interpret this work, not merely recreate it, highlighting the central role African-Americans played in shaping our nation’s popular music from its beginnings more than a century ago.
The virtuosic trio’s approach was provocative and revelatory. Their concerts, the New York Times declared, were “an end-to-end display of excellence…They dip into styles of Southern black music from the 1920s and ’30s—string-band music, jug-band music, fife and drum, early jazz—and beam their curiosity outward. They make short work of their instructive mission and spend their energy on things that require it: flatfoot dancing, jug playing, shouting.”
On Leaving Eden, the Carolina Chocolate Drops (CCD) illustrate their own adaptability to growth and change as the original lineup expands from three to five players for this recording and their new repertoire incorporates more blues, jazz, and folk balladry alongside brilliantly rendered string-band tunes. The group’s founding members Rhiannon Giddens and Dom Flemons, both singers and multi-instrumentalists, were used to working together (CCD had evolved out of their previous group, Sankofa Strings) but they needed back-up for their second full-length Nonesuch disc. Help came in the form of three new players: beat-boxer Adam Matta, introduced to the band by their friends in NYC’s Luminescent Orchestrii (with whom they’d released a live EP on Nonesuch in 2011) and Brooklyn-based guitarist, banjo player, and singer Hubby Jenkins and New Orleans-based cellist Leyla McCalla, both of whom the band had befriended via the Music Maker Relief Foundation, which helps to support elder roots artists and encourage young talent.