Q&A: Elephant Revival

Q&A: Elephant Revival
Courtesy Photo

Courtesy Photo Courtesy Photo Elephant Revival, known for their mystical folk music, will headline George’s Majestic Lounge on New Year’s Eve. The band is Bridget Law, Charlie Rose, Bonnie Payne, Daniel Rodriguez and Dango Rose.

One of the region’s most beloved folk bands are returning to bring in the New Year’s Eve at George’s Majestic Lounge.

Elephant Revival are known for their mystical blend of folk, Celtic, bluegrass, gypsy and Americana. Essentially, they’re a really mellow folk instrument band that can put you under a soothing spell with their weaving songs.

The multi-instrumentalist group consists of Bonnie Paine (washboard, djembe, musical saw, stompbox); Bridget Law (fiddle, octave fiddle), Charlie Rose (banjo, pedal steel, guitar, horns, cello, double bass), Dango Rose (double bass, mandolin, banjo), and Daniel Rodriguez (guitar, banjo, double bass).

The group has been a staple performer at the once annual Harvest Festival at Mulberry Mountain in the fall season, and their following has steadily grown throughout the years.

The dreamy We Dream Dawn will open, and the beloved Mountain Sprout will also be playing the front stage — at a much rowdier pace.

We spoke with violinist/singer Bridget Law about the band’s rise and even dipped into a little bit of philosophy. Check it out:

TFW: That’s a pretty special gig to play New Year’s Eve at George’s. You guys have really built a following in this region. How’d that come about?

LAW: We asked them if we could play New Years Eve last time our ticket sales were really good. We’ve wanted to play in Bonnie’s home area so we could celebrate with her family. They’re all from Tahlequah, Okla. It’s kind of like a home show for us in a way. So, we asked if we could play New Year’s Eve, and they weren’t sure at first but they’ve taken us up on it and we’re super excited. It will definitely be a family affair. We Dream Dawn is opening, which is Sage Cook’s band, who is a founding member but he stopped playing with us about a year ago. So it’s a neat opportunity for us to be with our family, our home boy and brotha again. We’re talking about bringing in a aerialist, that might happen.

We were amazed how we were just a few tickets from selling the place out last time we came through. It was really exciting to know our music was reaching so many folks from around there. The owner Harold mentioned that there was a lot of people from out of state who had traveled to see us. It was great how we could play Fayetteville and that it could be an area that people could come to. That was nice. George’s is a nice hub in that Ozark region. We have a lot of fans out there.

TFW: So looking back from when the band first formed up in 2006, what are some reflections and thoughts about how the band has progressed?

LAW: We were playing the music out on the banks of Spring Creek in Talequah for many years before that, about three years. We had been roaming around as friends and meeting up at different parts of the country until we officially became Elephant Revival in 2006. We were all hanging out around there and enjoying the vibes of the scene.

Anything, if it doesn’t break over time it gets stronger. We’ve done what we needed to do to be a really strong functioning group. Over time our fan base grows, our music matures, and the community enhances as everything grows together. It becomes a working system that is a really lovely kingdom for us. I think learning how to trust each other musically in life and learning how to grow as a person so you can trust each other and be a better part of a group. Things get more real, y’know. I really love my friends and the group we work with. Everyone means well, they do their best and they’re honest. They care about the planet. It’s beautiful to work in group of people like that. I’m grateful.

TFW: As far as the vibe and sound of the band, how did that form and how has it developed?

LAW: I think it’s been a really natural process. It’s allowed us to have a unique sound in our own way. We’ve listened to all the components and instruments we like to play and the sounds that fit the stories of the song. That allows the music to sing itself in a way. W don’t put too much thought into a particular way we want to sound. We aim to preserve the song, y’know, what’s going to best deliver the song or the feeling or impression to the original composition. It’s honoring those things has allowed us to bring this very fluid patience. It’s gentle at times, and exciting at others. That process allows us all to work together so there isn’t one of us playing over the other one.

I don’t know how you’re going to paraphrase all of that [laughs] but yeah, it’s about allowing the song to speak through us. Different songs have different feature points. Sometimes it’s more melodic. We do have instrumental songs. I love them, mostly because I’m a fiddle player, but there’s a lot of beautiful poetry in these songs in delivering these words in prose. A lot of times the music is about painting the picture of the story. I try to stay within the feeling of the song no matter what that is.

TFW: How do the lyrics come about for you guys?

LAW: Well, at one point we all wrote as a group. Bonnie Payne and Dan Rodriguez write the majority of the lyrics for the group. Charlie Rose and Dan Rose contributed a bit back when Sage played with us. I guess it would be safe to say everyone but me [laughs]. I do write lyrics, but I think my friends are so great at the craft I allow them to do their thing and be featured so I can contribute with playing the fiddle. We like good lyrics. If somebody comes to the table with a nice song and great lyrics and has a nice message and feel, we find a way to embody it.

TFW: What are some themes of lyrics Elephant Revival pursues and writes about?

LAW: There’s nothing specific, no. It’s definitely our goal to remain vast and all-inclusive. We’re not trying to deliver lyrics that are controversial. All of our lyrics try to tap into innate knowledge in humans and nature. Y’know, common feelings we all feel. Whether nostalgia or nature. “Sing to the mountain, sing to the moon,” y’know. Honoring nature is definitely within our words, and it should be. It’s a gorgeous planet we live on. We try not to write things that have such a strong message that people would disagree or feel something bad from. It’s mostly stories and feelings and concepts that are things I think we can all feel or get behind. The message is macro, y’know? What it means to be human, to feel. To have an experience or an exchange with nature. Different emotional states. The things that are inside every human being, tapping into what it really means to be alive.

What: New Year’s Eve concert feat. Elephant Revival, We Dream Dawn and Mountain Sprout.

Where: George’s Majestic Lounge, 519 W Dickson St., Fayetteville

When: 9 p.m.

How Much: $18

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