Jam Central Station 9.22.12: Elephant Revival – 9.13.12 – Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens- Akron, OH
Hey everyone! Hope you’re having a great weekend. While you’re reading this I’m jamming out at the Werk Out festival, the last festival of the season for me. You’ll hear more about that next week. Time to look at a recent concert with Elephant Revival!
I go to a lot of concerts. Obviously not as many as some people, and I do pick and choose, but I still see more than my fair share of live music. Big arena shows, festivals, theater shows, club shows, bar shows, I go to them all. There’s plenty of reasons I do that. I love the social aspect of being with other music fans. I enjoy just about any type of music, so even if i don’t know the band I’ll usually enjoy myself. Doing this work also necessitates (or allows) me to see more music than I likely would otherwise. If nothing else, it’s an excuse that I use when my wife wonders why I go to so many shows.
But another reason is just that I hate missing great shows. I hate wanting to go to a show and not being able to, never sure what I might miss. I’ve missed the Dave Matthews Band playing Halloween on two occasions in the past few years. I’ve missed great Phish shows and Umphrey’s McGee shows. I’ve even missed great Paul McCartney and Peter Gabriel shows that I probably could have made. A big part of it is that, with live music, you never know when you’re going to see something amazing. I remember seeing Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds in 2003, and they completely surpassed my expectations. Carbon Leaf in 2004 in Columbus absolutely destroyed a show where there probably weren’t more than 200 people. Roger Waters tours for “Dark Side of the Moon” and “The Wall” were both unforgettable. Every now and then at a live show you see something amazing. “Amazing” is the only word that I can think of that would come close to describing the Elephant Revival show that I saw at the Stan Hywet Gardens in Akron, Ohio last week.
Elephant Revival is made up of five extremely talented musicians from Colorado. The band features traditional folk instruments, including the fiddle, banjo, guitar, stand-up bass, and even the washboard and musical saw. The band members all write and sing, and they often switch instruments on stage. The collective talent in the band is extremely high, and together they multiply that talent. One of the primary things that sets them apart from other talented folk bands, however, is the band’s de facto frontwoman, Bonnie Paine. She is the primary vocalist (she sang more than half of the songs at the show), percussionist, and one of the primary songwriters. While everyone in the band is talented, Bonnie’s vocals and style are utterly unique. Her voice is hard to describe, and I’ve put it as something like a cross between Sarah McLachlan and Delores O’Riordan from The Cranberries. She uses her range and vibrato to spectacular effect, and I can honestly say that I’ve never heard a vocalist quite like her. While the rest of the band provided a great musical base, Paine took that music to unimaginable heights.
The band played a two set show consisting of nearly three hours of music Given that the band has only released a pair of independent albums, I was quite surprised at the length of the concert. They moved from song to song easily, each member jumping in and taking their time to shine. I wasn’t able to catch the names of many of the songs (there were plenty of unreleased songs played, and the band didn’t stick to any setlist), but there were plenty of highlights for the evening. Also, since many of the songs were new to me, please forgive me if I make a mistake with who sang which songs or who played what instruments on various songs. Daniel Rodriguez took lead vocals for a few songs, including a beautiful version of “Black and Silver,” a song, according to Daniel, that the band rarely played. Another one of his songs, “Grace of a Woman,” closed out the first set. Fiddle player Bridget Law only sang a couple of tunes, but her simple country/folk style provided a nice contrast to Bonnie’s unique sound. Dango Ross’s style seemed to be the most old-timey of the group, as his songs were very traditional sounding folk tunes. Guitarist Sage Cook seemed to tow the line a little more between the traditional and contemporary on the songs that he sang, but, along with Dango, he seemed to lean a little closer to an older feel.
Of course, Bonnie Paine’s songs were the highlights of the evening for me. She mixed up her styles extremely well, going from sultry crooning on “Rogue River” to the the quiet and almost hesitant “Remembering a Beginning” without any trouble. She kept the crowd enthralled not just vocally but also with her percussion. Most people wouldn’t think that you could define the feel of a song just using a washboard and a plywood stomp box, but Paine added exactly what the music called for percussively. She also made good use out of her djembe for songs like “Drop,” while Rodriguez took over the djembe for “Rogue River.” Having such vocal talent in the band allowed Paine to be a primary focus and an obvious highlight while also giving everyone else a chance to show off what they could do and keep the audience on their toes and guessing as to what would come next. It’s a great balance that the band is able to keep, and it shows that, despite all of the talent in the band, everyone is happy to allow everyone else to shine.
I would be remiss if I didn’t discuss the venue as a part of the review. The Stan Hywett Gardens in Akron is a 70 acre estate consisting of a variety of beautifully landscaped gardens as well as a historical home and other buildings. The concert took place on their “great lawn” with a temporary stage, with the gardens and home serving as the backdrop for the performance. Elephant Revival has a clear policy of being Earth friendly and environmentally conscious, and I cannot think of a more beautiful or appropriate venue for their performance. Because of the way Stan Hywett is set up, many of the attendees were members of Stan Hywett, which means that they were likely older than a typical Elephant Revival crowd, and that they were there to sit and listen to the music. This meant that there wasn’t much hooting and hollering, and very little singing along. But it also meant that the entire focus of the night was on the band and on the music. While I enjoy a good party at a show as much as the next person, this audience allowed everyone to experience the band in a very intimate way, without any distractions. The venue and the crowd added quite a bit to the beauty of the evening.
I’ve had a very good year musically. I’ve caught some great shows and learned about some great new bands. I’ve played some big shows of my own, and I’ve seen some top notch performances. This Elephant Revival show takes the cake, however. I go to shows hoping that once in a great while I will see something as wonderful and moving as this Elephant Revival show. It takes a unique set of circumstances to create a show show like this, and on this night everything came together. I walked away knowing that I saw something very special.
Elephant Revival has all of the tools to become a major part of the modern folk revival happening right now. It’s helpful for me to remember that just two years ago a relatively unknown band from England called Mumford and Sons were making their first inroads in the U.S. by playing small venues and low billing on festivals. I’m not saying that Elephant Revival will reach that level of success, but they have the same talent, passion, and unique sound that is allowing Mumford and Sons, The Avett Brothers, Dawes, The Head and The Heart, and many other bands to thrive. Elephant Revival deserves to be included in that conversation, and I have every confidence that they are a band on the rise. I would recommend to anyone that they make it a point to see this band live and support their music. I know that I’ll be planning on seeing Elephant Revival as often as possible.
I had an opportunity to interview Elephant Revival at the Electric Forest festival. My friend/cameraman J.R. was finally able to get it uploaded to Youtube, and I figured this would be a good place to include that interview.
Phish announce next live release
Phish announced their next release from their archives. The band will be releasing their 12/6/97 show from The Palace in Auburn Hills for download or purchase on a double-CD set. The show features some great transitions, and the entire second set is non-stop with each song segueing into the next. The show will be released on September 25.
Roger Waters joins Love for Levon
Former Pink Floyd bassist Roger Waters has been announced as part of the Love for Levon show set to take place at the IZOD Center in New Jersey on October 3. Waters joins other artists such as Gregg Allman, My Morning Jacket, Joe Walsh, Robert Randolph, Warren Haynes, Bruce Hornsby, and many others. The event will benefit Levon Helm’s estate. Helm and other members of The Band performed as part of Roger Waters staging of The Wall in Berlin in 1990.
Lotus announces New Years run
Lotus will be putting together a five-night New Years run this year. The band will perform in Chicago on December 27-28, move on to Pittsburgh for the 29th, and wrap things up in Baltimore on the 30-31. The December 31 show will be “An Evening With Lotus” and, as of right now, won’t feature an opening band.
Governor’s Ball announces 2013 dates
In the new tradition of announcing dates nearly a year in advance, Governor’s Ball announced their 2013 festival dates. The event, which takes place at Randall’s Island in New York City, will take place on June 8-9. The event is already announcing that they will be expanding their performance areas and featuring new attractions.
The Werk Out Music and Arts Festival
September 20-23, 2012
Performers include: 2 nights of The Werks, Lotus, Greensky Bluegrass, ekoostik hookah, Rusted Root, Everyone Orchestera, EOTO, Break Science, DrFameus, The Heavy Pets, and many more.
Southern Ground Food and Music Festival
September 21-22, 2012
Lawn at Riverfront Park
Performers include: Zac Brown Band featuring Special Guests (including Gregg Allman) (both nights), Amos Lee, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Jerry Douglas, David Grey, Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, Los Lonely Boys, and many others.
September 22, 2012
Performers include: Neil Young, John Mellencamp, Willie Nelson, Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds, Jack Johnson, ALO, and many others.
Love for Levon
October 3, 2012
East Rutherford, NJ
This one-night event will raise money for the Levon Helm estate. Performers include Gregg Allman, My Morning Jacket, Roger Waters, Joe Walsh, Bruce Hornsby, Warren Haynes, Levon Helm Band, John Mayer, Ray LaMontagne, and many others.
October 5-6, 2012
Mann Music Center
Performers include: The Disco Biscuits, Diplo, A-Trak, RJD2, Paper Diamond, Papadosio, and many others.
The Festy Experience
October 5-7, 2012
Nelson County, VA
Performers include: The Infamous Stringdusters, Trampled by Turtles, Leftover Salmon, Keller & The Keels, Rubblebucket, Elephant Revival, and many others.
Hardly Strictly Bluegrass
San Francisco, CA
Performers include: Elvis Costello, Emmylou Harris, ALO, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, and many others
Harvest Music Festival
October 11-13, 2012
Yonder Mountain String Band will host the event and perform multiple sets. More artists will be announced later.
Austin City Limits
October 12-14, 2012
Performers include: Red Hot Chili Peppers, Neil Young & Crazy Horse, The Black Keys, Jack White, Florence + The Machine, The Avett Brothers, Umphrey’s McGee, Big Gigantic, Bassnectar, The Roots, Gotye, Weezer, Thievery Corp., and many others.
Bridge School Benefit
October 20-21, 2012
Mountain View, CA
Performers include: Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Jack White, Guns ‘n Roses, The Flaming Lips, Sarah McLachlin, Gary Clark Jr., and many others.
Southern Ground Food & Music Festival
Performers include: Zac Brown Band (both nights), The Avett Brothers, Grace Potter & The Nocturnals, The Charlie Daniels Band, Michael Franti & Spearhead, The Wailers, Jerry Douglas, and many others
Hangtown Halloween Ball
October 26-28, 2012
El Dorado County Fairgrounds
Performers include: Railroad Earth (3 shows), The Del McCoury Band, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe performing a Beastie Boys tribute, Blind Pilot, The Travelin’ McCoury’s featuring Keller Williams, Emmitt-Nershi Band, The Infamous Stringdusters, Greensky Bluegrass, and many more.
Voodoo Music and Arts Festival
October 26-28, 2012
New Orleans, LA
Performers include: Green Day, Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Jack White, Avett Brothers, Skrillex, Coheed & Cambria, Nas, Gary Clark Jr., and many others
With Your Friends Festival
October 26-27, 2012
Performers include: Pretty Lights, Skrillex, Santigold, Nas, 12th Planet, Michael Menart, and many others.
November 8-11, 2012
Spirit of the Suwanee Music Park
Live Oaks, FL
Performers include: Umphrey’s McGee, Soulive, Lotus, Perpetual Groove, Break Science, The Heavy Pets, and many others.
Strings & Sol
December 12-16, 2012
Dreams Tulum Resort & Spa
Yonder Mountain String Band will perform 3 shows, and Railroad Earth, Leftover Salmon, and The Infamous Stringdusters will each be performing 2 shows.
December 16-19, 2012 (Bahamas)
December 19-23, 2012 (Jamaica)
Departing from Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Performers include: Pulp, Hot Chip, Yeasayer, Girl Talk, James Murphy, Sleigh Bells, and many others.
December 17-21, 2012
Dreams Tulum Resort & Spa
Umphrey’s McGee, The Disco Biscuits, and STS9 will each perform two shows. STS9 will also perform a special midnight set commemorating the beginning of the new Great Cycle of the Mayan Calendar.
Island Exodus IV
January 16-20, 2013
Gov’t Mule will host the event and perform multiple sets. No word on other performers.
Panic En La Playa Dos
January 27-31, 2013
Hard Rock HOoel & Casino
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
This event will be the return of Widespread Panic to the stage after a year-long hiatus. Tickets go on sale August 24.
Jam in the Sand
March 1-5, 2013
Breezes Grand Resort
Dark Star Orchestra’s first Jamaican event. This event will feature multiple DSO shows as well as three Keller Williams sets and other activities
April 12-14, 2013
April 19-21, 2013
Governors Ball Music Festival
June 8-9, 2013
New York City, NY
Newport Folk Festival
July 27-28, 2013
Newport Jazz Festival
Austin City Limits
October 4-6, 2013
October 11-13, 2013
Thanks again for sticking around, and please take the time to check out Elephant Revivail, either in concert or through their albums. You can find more Jam Central Station on Facebook Twitter. Until next week, Jam On!