Beauty inspires art, and the state of Colorado, with its majestic mountain-scape and verdant surroundings, has become a creative hub for the visual and performing arts. “Colorado’s got an amazing musical community” says Bonnie Paine of Colorado-based eclectic folk-grass outfit Elephant Revival. “It’s a great place to experience all kinds of music; there’s a lot of support, and people are really into going out and hearing live music. It’s beautiful here, and we’re surrounded by inspiration.”
Paine, who writes and provides vocals for the band, is also the band’s percussionist, in the most unique sense of the term. “I started off playing a drum set when I was young,” she recalls. However her immersion in the bluegrass world left her unable to participate in jam sessions common at festivals and the like. “I was at a bluegrass festival, and my dad noticed that I was always tapping on myself while people were jamming, so he suggested we go to a nearby market, buy some banjo picks, borrow a washboard, and see what happens. I decided to humor him, and I went along with it,” she says with a laugh. “I ended up playing on several stages, and I had so much fun—I discovered I could play kit-style rhythms in a subtle way.” Soon after, she discovered the beautiful sounds she could make by playing a saw—yes, a saw; she also has an African djembe, a stomp box made by her father, and has recently added her cello to the performing lineup. “Cello has been the instrument I’ve written on for many years. I was an awkward, shy teenager, and I wanted to have someone to sing with—cello was the closest tone to a human voice,” she explains. “I just recently started performing cello with the band; that’s been a little different for me, but it’s exciting.”
Besides their innovative musical approach, Elephant Revival is also known for their philanthropic contributions to the world—from supporting environmental causes to bringing awareness to the immigrant and refugee crisis—through their art. “My writing starts when I find a quiet, peaceful place, preferably near water, where I can see more of the non-human world,” Paine says. “I feel like it helps music come through that’s not contrived, it’s something people can relate to on a bigger scale. I want to give back to those places that have given me so much, I don’t know what I would do without those areas of solace, and I want to do what I can to help protect them, bring awareness, and inspire others to want to protect those places.”
The band is currently on tour supporting their latest release, Petals; East of 8th is proud to present Elephant Revival at Mercy Lounge on Thursday October 6th, with Ben Sollee and a very special surprise guest. Don’t miss this one.