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Cultivating WinterWonderGrass: Elephant Revival

02/16/2018 16:29 ● Published by Alesha Damerville

Images from Elephant Revival

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS – Elephant Revival's environmental conservancy efforts have largely contributed to their career and the composition of their music. They've worked with a number of nonprofits promotion sustainability over the years. 

“The music of Elephant Revival is directly influenced by their passion to take care of the planet,” says Bonnie Paine, Elephant Revival’s multi-instrumentalist and vocalist. “We support several non-profit groups revolving around land and water protection. It’s important to give back and reciprocate.”

The band joined with the state of Colorado to develop Trail Revival, an effort to encourage outdoor enthusiasts to clean up their favorite trails in the state. Colorado is the first state to officially celebrate and recognize a Public Lands Day. “It’s a way to give back to the source of where all the songs come from,” Paine says. “It’s a nice mutual relationship – the music of Elephant Revival is directly influenced by their passion to take care of the planet.”

Elephant Revival has been involved with WinterWonderGrass since its inception. “[WinterWonderGrass founder] Scotty Stoughton is a perfect person as far as pulling together some solid resources on what’s going on artistically the in community, sustainably and environmentally,” Paine says. “He’s the best. I love him so much.”

WinterWonderGrass focuses on sustainability. The organizers are committed to the “leave no trace” principle. They offer free water-fill stations but will not be selling single-use plastic water bottles. In 2016, they achieved an 89% diversion rate – diverting waste from the festival into composting and recycling efforts.

Music is the foundation of Elephant Revival. 

Their self-defined sound, “eclectic folk rock with worldly influence and rhythmic sounds, played on acoustic and electric instruments,” leaves fans elated.

For 11 years, the band has focused on spreading the message of eco-consciousness. Their beginnings were humble. “I met Daniel Rodriguez first at a club called table 58,” Paine says. “He was hosting an open mic night. I sang acapella, and we ended up playing music on the rooftop until sunrise. We could tell the music we were making together was special. I was in another band and living in Oklahoma at the time. It grew over time. It took a couple years, but we eventually got the band together. I met some of the other band members at music festivals.”

Music festivals have a deep-rooted presence in Elephant Revival. “I began playing drums with my sister around five or six,” Paine says. “We all would play percussion. One day, at a bluegrass festival, my dad noticed I was always tapping on stuff. The festival is called Winfield Bluegrass festival – I met a lot of our bandmates there.”

“One morning my dad said, ‘Let’s go down to the market area and get you some banjo picks. I’ve been noticing how you tap on everything,’” Paine says. “He suggested I borrow a friend’s washboard and play with the picks on my fingers. I ended up playing in a circle in a campground and got asked to play on stage that night. I ended up sitting in with a bunch of bands. My picks kept flying off into the audience. In order for them not to do that I had to clamp them or bite them down, which made me fingers bleed and hurt. When my grandmother died, I inherited a huge hat box of gloves, antique leather driving gloves. I realized what I could do with them, and started wearing gloves when playing.”

Being present and creating a memorable experience are priorities for the band. “I’ve always wanted to put on something I call the ‘art of all forms,’” Paine says. “It would be incredible to have as many forms of art we can represent. Live painting during the musical performances and aerial dancing or acrobatics. We would like to offer seminars in between sets and have people speak on stage about different topics. Topics could include the art of home childbirth, the art of sustainable home building or the art of beer. Helping to bring awareness of what kind of resources are in the community for people to tap into. Eventually, we would like to have those all over or at least two or three around the country.”

Due to family matters, Elephant Revival will be going on hiatus after their upcoming performances at WinterWonderGrass (Feb. 23-25) and Red Rocks (May 20). 



For more information
 on WinterWonderGrass, lodging and ski passes, visit www.winterwondergrass.com
For more information on Elephant Revival visit http://www.elephantrevival.com


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