I’m a lucky girl. Living in Boston, one of the few cities in New England, I am guaranteed a visit by nearly every one of my favorite musicians. Moreover, I have an array of venues where I can see them – from the Orpheum to the Middle East, there are large and small venues located throughout the city and its surrounding suburbs. Few, however, offer the intimacy and history of Club Passim.
This tiny venue, which doubles a vegetarian pizza restaurant, was originally founded in 1958 as Club 47. Although the club has relocated from its original location a few streets over, it remains a cornerstone in the history of Harvard Square and folk music, with landmark artists such as Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell having graced the stage. Today, Passim is a non-profit organization providing music education and encouraging grassroots music in the community. Follow this link to their website to learn more about Passim’s history, performances, and membership benefits: http://www.clubpassim.org/ .
I can think of no better place to see one of my favorite roots-folk artists, Elephant Revival, for the first time. Elephant Revival was formed in 2006 in Nederland, “Ned”, Colorado, home to none other than the String Cheese Incident and other bluegrass and jam staples like Leftover Salmon. Elephant Revival may not be quite as well known as their peers, but they are growing increasingly popular, hitting the festival circuit this summer and, best of all, making a stop at Horning’s Hideout (See you there!).
The band consists of Bonnie Paine (vocals, washboard, djembe, musical saw), Sage Cook (electric banjo/guitar, acoustic guitar, mandolin, viola, vocals), Dango Rose (double-bass, mandolin, banjo, vocals), Daniel Rodriguez (acoustic guitar, electric banjo/guitar vocals) and Bridget Law (fiddle and vocals). The first thing I noticed during this sold out show was what dynamic musicians these are. I was consistently surprised throughout the show at how they switched places, traded instruments, and chimed in vocals. Everyone seemed to play every part, and it created a joyful atmosphere as you watched them experiment with sound and emotion right before my eyes.
They played a great range of songs from all three of their albums: Elephant Revival (2008), Break in the Clouds (2010), and their recent EP It’s Alive. (They may have played some other songs as, well, I just don’t recall.) They sometimes moved right from song to song, but more often took a break to tell us a story or make an advertisement or even drop an instrument! Their personalities and personability during these brief intermissions were only shown up by their emotion as they sang and played. I found myself, and watched other in the room as well, become hypnotized by Bonnie and Bridget’s ethereal voices, occasionally backed by a psychedelic electric banjo.
Yet at other times, I was stifled by the sit-down nature of the venue and wanted to dance! Bridget’s violin soars and it is hard to believe how Bonnie excels so well as washboard. I thought I would flip over the table, I was bouncing in my seat so enthusiastically. The chemistry between these two, as well as the group in general, was palpable. Especially in such an intimate venue, this chemistry overflowed into the audience into the audience from start to finish.
I bought my tickets for this show three months ahead of time, right after it was announced. I have been listening to Elephant Revival’s recorded music for quite some time and they are honestly one of my favorites. It was no surprise then, that this show was a wonderful experience. Jeremy and I can’t wait to see another show at this venue and especially can’t wait to see Elephant Revival again – hopefully sooner than Horning’s! I the meantime, I encourage you to go see the band if they are coming near you soon! Here are the remaining stops in their tour: http://elephantrevival.com/
Review by: Carolyn Willander
Photos by: CJohansen Photography