Elephant Revival’s first headlining show at Red Rocks promises to be a celebration of community made at home and on the road. This Sunday, the Nederland five-piece will have its turn at headlining Denver's favorite stage, and are joined by Josh Ritter & the Royal City Band, Rising Appalachia and the Human Experience.
Although acoustic in style, Elephant Revival doesn’t play just bluegrass or folk. The eclectic mix of musicians, all of whom contribute to songwriting and vocals, take string instruments and roots music to another level of original, otherworldly sounds while still connecting with Americana and Celtic music traditions.
Violinist Bridget Law spoke with us about the band's upcoming show and on "welcoming the reality" of headlining Red Rocks in the state they call home.
Although the show will mark the band's first headlining slot at the venue, Elephant Revival is no stranger to Red Rocks, having opened last summer for Trampled by Turtles with Shakey Graves, and having played the year before with DeVotchKa, Gregory Alan Isakov and the Colorado Symphony Orchestra. Both shows were sold out.
Since this is arguably the biggest show the band has played in home territory, the group will add percussionist Darren Garvey to the lineup, and the set will be one of the longest in recent memory, including new, old and unreleased songs.
Elephant Revival is bringing old and new friends to play — and not just from Colorado. Rising Appalachia from New Orleans will open the show; sisters Leah and Chloe Smith sing and play a variety of acoustic instruments, including the washboard and djembe, which Elephant Revival also uses. The duo's musical style can be described as indie folk with jazzy vocals and a world-music flavor, with the inclusion of tablas, kalimbas, congas and other instruments. Even though the two bands haven't played together often, Law considers them “best-friends-to-be,” noting that Rising Appalachia's “fundamental purpose" is closely aligned with that of Elephant Revival.
Elephant Revival spent the last two months supporting folk and alt-country group Josh Ritter & the Royal City Band on a U.S. tour. Ritter just released new album Sermon on the Rocks — a fitting title for his first show at Red Rocks.
Also appearing on the bill is the Human Experience, a project from DJ David Block, which will provide chill electronic music during set changes. The Human Experience and Rising Appalachia worked together on the 2013 album Soul Visions.
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Visual entertainment for the show will include aerialists and dancers from Boulder's Fractal Tribe. Law calls them “an incredible group of human beings” whose members ER considers good friends. Fractal Tribe will perform a celebration of life with circus-level dancing, puppetry — including elephant puppets made especially for this performance — and some stunning silk-climbing.
Community is important to Elephant Revival, and the show will be dedicated to the lives of Joe Ramas and Stacey Reynolds. Ramas was a member of Fractal Tribe, and both were a large part of Boulder's art community. The two passed away after a car accident that happened just last week. "Connecting to the afterlife is a continuous theme in the band’s lyrics," says Law, and the show will honor the memory of those lost while celebrating the lives of those present.
Elephant Revival headlines Red Rocks Amphitheatre for the first time this Sunday, May 22. Rising Appalachia opens the show.