music / Columns

Jam Central Station: Elephant Revival – Petals

April 9, 2016 | Posted by Jeff Modzelewski

Colorado’s Elephant Revival has been making waves in the roots music and festival scene for the most of the 10’s, and deservedly so. The band is a true collaborative effort, with each member taking on songwriting duties and most members providing lead vocals at some point. The band underwent their first lineup change this year when Sage Cook stepped back to take on other projects. They didn’t miss a beat bringing in Charlie Rose (not to be confused with the band’s basssist Dango Rose), another multi-instrumentalist that adds some new elements to the group. Petals is the first album to feature Rose’s work, and it’s an album that sees the band distilling their sound to bring out the best of what they do.

Charlie Rose’s influence is immediately and throughout the album. He plays a steel pedal guitar on much of the album, and the more electric and country-twang sound is a brand new element for the band. It fits very well into the song and throughout the album. Another difference between this release and other Elephant Revival albums is the fact that Bonnie Payne and Daniel Rodriguez provide all of the lead vocals on the album. The band had split up vocal duties almost evenly on earlier releases, but Petals sees the band putting their strongest feet forward with Bonnie and Daniel singing. The rest of the band still provides excellent harmonies and backup vocals, and there’s a very strong ensemble vocal performance on “When I Fall”, but I was very happy to see the band give these two vocalists the room to maneuver on this album.

If you enjoy Elephant Revival’s sparse style, there’s going to be a lot on this album you’ll love. The opening two tracks highlight their “beautiful music” style and show that their ability to compose songs that lift you up emotionally hasn’t changed. The title track hits a more powerful chord, With Bonnie bringing a little more forcefulness to her vocals and the use of a drum kit (albeit sparsely) being a new component. “On and On” also uses a drum kit. Luckily the use of the kit doesn’t overwhelm the delicacy of the band or the rest of their music. Using the kit also helps provide a base for Charlie Rose’s use of the pedal steel, an instrument that also may have overwhelmed the rest of the band previously.

Nature is a constant source of inspiration for the band. That’s clear in songs like “Raindrops” and “Season Song.” They songs also often tell stories, including a multi-part story that has been featured on multiple albums. The sparse “Furthest Shore” is another part of this tale. Finally, while vocal harmonies and layering has long been a part of Elephant Revival’s repertoire, it’s never been as well done as it is on this album. “Sea Monster” is a great example of this, and “When I Fall” is a vocal collaboration far beyond anything the band has done in the past. It has a “big room” feel to it and some production touches that the band hasn’t used in the past. While a band that has typically had such a bare-bones feel with regards to production on previous efforts it can be concerning when they embrace some new techniques. It works very well, however, and it does nothing to take away from the raw talent of the group.

While I’ve spent a lot of time highlighting the new things the band brought to the table with this album, they still are the same band that fans have been falling in love with. Their beautiful vocal performances, great songwriting, and lighthearted compositions are all on display and highlighted. The new aspects complement the things that have been so good about this band for so long. Adding new elements didn’t change the band at the core, it simply provided new colors for the band to paint with. Whether it’s a drum kit, steel guitar, or cello, the new pieces fit into the Elephant Revival puzzle. This album fits very well into what Elephant Revival has been doing for nearly the past decade.

Yonder Mountain String Band announce tour
YMSB announced the initial dates for their summer tour. Dates include a stop at Bell’s Eccentric Cafe the day before the start of the Electric Forest festival.

June 17 Telluride, CO–Sheridan Opera House
June 18 Telluride, CO–Telluride Bluegrass Festival
June 22 Kalamazoo, MI–Bell’s Eccentric Cafe Beer Garden
June 23 Kent, OH–Kent Stage
June 24 Lowell, MA–Lowell Summer Music Series
June 26 Jim Thorpe, PA–Penn’s Peak
July 1 Kansas City, MO–CrossroadsKC
July 2 Ozark, AR–Highberry Fest
July 3 Memphis, TN–Lafayette’s Music Room
July 7 Wilmington, NC–Greenfield Lake Amphitheater
July 8 Black Mountain, NC–Pisgah Brewery
July 9 Columbia, MD–Merryland Music Festival
July 10 Portsmouth, VA–nTelos Wireless Pavilion
July 14–17 North Plains, OR–Northwest String Summit

Gov’t Mule announce tour with Blackberry Smoke
Gov’t Mule will be heading out on tour with Blackberry Smoke opening. The’ll be doing a 2 week run in mid-August.

August 11 Portland, ME— Maine State Pier
August 12 Asbury Park, NJ— Stone Pony Summerstage
August 16 Utica, NY— Saranac Brewery
August 17 Philadelphia, PA— River Stage at Penn’s Landing
August 18 Pittsburgh, PA— Stage AE Outdoors
August 19 Rochester Hills, MI— Meadow Brook Amphitheatre
August 20 Huber Heights, OH— Music Center at the Heights
August 22 Peoria, IL— CEFCU Center Stage
August 23 Des Moines, IA— Simon Estes Amphitheater
August 25 Morrison, CO— Red Rocks Amphitheater (with moe.)

Wanee Festival
April 14-16
The Spirit of the Suwanee Music Park
Live Oak, FL
Widespread Panic, Gregg Allman, Gov’t Mule, Warren Haynes, Billy & The Kids, Umphrey’s McGee, Bruce Hornsby & The Noisemakers, North Mississippi Osborne, The Wood Brothers

Some Kind of Jam
April 22-24
Schuylkill Haven, PA
The New Mastersounds, RAQ, Mike Dillon Band, Banditos, Aqueous, Gang of Thieves, Yosemight, The Big Dirty

New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival
April 22-May 1
New Orleans, LA
Stevie Wonder, Pearl Jam, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Neil Young, Snoop Dogg, Paul Simon, Steely Dan, Beck, Van Morrison, Trombone Shorty, Elvis Costello, My Morning Jacket, Bonnie Raitt, Galactic, Gov’t Mule, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Preservation Hall Jazz Band

Susquehanna Breakdown
May 20-21
Montage Mountain
Scranton, PA
Railroad Earth, Infamous Stringdusters, Cabinet, Twiddle, Fruition

Summer Camp
May 26-29
Three Sisters Park
Chillicothe, IL
moe., Umphrey’s McGee, Mudcrutch, STS9, Big Grizmatic, Thievery Corp., The Roots, George Clinton & P-Funk, Emancipator, EOTO, Greensky Bluegrass, Keller Williams, Yonder Mountain String Band

May 26-29
Cumberland, MD
The Del McCoury Band, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Greensky Bluegrass, Railroad Earth, Bruce Hornsby & The Noisemakers, Sam Bush Band, Yonder Mountain String Band, The Wood Brothers, The Infamous STringdusters, Keller Williams, Elephant Revival, Fruition

Dark Star Jubilee
May 27-29
Legend Valley
Thornville, OH
Dark Star Orchestra, Hot Tuna, Yonder Mountain String Band, Leftover Salmon, Steve Kimock & Friends, The Wailers, Melvin Seals & DSO performing a JGB set

Mountain Jam
June 2-5
Hunter Mountain, NY
Beck, Wilco, The Avett Brothers, Gov’t Mule, Umphrey’s McGee, Thievery Corp., Brandi Carlile, Gary Clark Jr., Michael Franti & Spearhead, Lettuce, Chris Robinson Brotherhood

June 9-12
Manchester, TN
Pearl Jam, Dead & Company, LCD Soundsystem, Ween, The Claypool Lennon Delirium, Zeds Dead, GRiZ, Mavis Staples, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, Lettuce, Sam Bush Band, The Wood Brothers, Papadosio

Telluride Bluegrass Festival
June 16-19
Telluride, CO
Bela Fleck & The Flecktones, Sam Bush Band, Neil Finn, Emmylou Harris, John Prine, Yonder Mountain String Band, Del McCoury Band, Leftover Salmon, Greensky Bluegrass

Electric Forest
June 23-26
Double JJ Ranch & Resort
Rothbury, MI
The String Cheese Incident, Bassnectar, Major Lazer, The Disco Biscuits, STS9, Greensky Bluegrass, The New Mastersounds, GRiZ, Houndmouth, Dumpstaphunk, The Nth Power, Papadosio, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, Nahko & Medicine for the People, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Beats Antique, EOTO

Highberry Music Festival
June 30-July 4
Mulberry Mountain
Ozark, AR
Yonder Mountain String Band, Keller Williams, Papadosio, TAUK, Dopapod, Jeff Austin Band, Cornmeal

High Sierra
June 30-July 4
Quincy, CA
Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Thievery Corp., Joe Russo’s ALmost Dead, Dr. Dog, Greensky Bluegrass, JJ Gre & Mofro, Xavier Rudd, Leftover Salmon, Lettuce, ALO

Camp Bisco
July 14-16
Montage Mountain
Scranton, PA
The Disco Biscuits, Odesza, Big Grazmatik, GRiZ, Lotus, STS9, Zeds Dead

Northwest String Summit
July 14-17
Horning’s Hideout
North Plains, OR
Yonder Mountain STring Band, Greensky Bluegrass, Railroad Earth, Leftover Salmon, The Infamous Stringdusters, Keller Williams & More Than A Little, Steep Canyon Rangers, Fruition

July 15-17
Waterfront Park
Louisville, KY
The Avett Brothers, Alabama Shakes, Ryan Adams, Walk the Moon, Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals, Gary Clark Jr., Big Gigantic

July 27-31
Floyd, VA
Gregg Allman, Bruce Hornsby & The Noisemakers, Greensky Bluegrass, Keller Williams & More Than A Little, Leftover Salmon, Shakey Graves, Railroad Earth, The Wood Brothers, Elephant Revival, Anders Osborne, Pimps of Joytime

Werk Out
August 4-6
Legend Valley
Thornville, OH
The Werks, STS9, Lettuce, Dopapod, Twiddle, The Motet, Turkuaz, Broccoli Samurai

Outside Lands
August 5-7
Golden Gate Park
San Francisco, CA

Hoxeyville Music Festival
August 19-21
Manistee National Forest
Wellston, MI
Greesnky Bluegrass, Railroad Earth, Billy Strings, Sweetwater Warblers, Airobrne or Aquatic

August 25-28
Oak Ridge Farm
Arrington, VA
Phish (2 nights), Ween (2 nights), My Morning Jacket, Umphrey’s McGee, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Galactic, Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Brandi Carlile, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, Twiddle, Lettuce, Gary Clark Jr.

North Coast Music Festival
Union Park
Chicago, IL
Bassnectar, Zedd, Odesza, Grouplove, The Claypool Lennon Delirium, Galantis, Greensky Bluegrass, The Revivalists, Vulfpeck

Catskill Chill
September 23-25
New Minglewood
Lakewood, PA

Hillberry Harvest Moon Festival
October 13-16
Eureka Springs, AR
Railroad Earth, Greensky Bluegrass, The INfamous Stringdusters, The Travelin’ McCourys, The New Mastersounds, Turkuaz, Larry Keel

Thanks again for stopping by. I’ll be back next week with more jam. Until then, check me out on Facebook and Twitter for up to the minute concert announcements. Until next week, Jam On!