The five members of Elephant Revival share a deep commitment to certain ideals: community; recognizing one’s place in the flow of the natural world; harmony. Holding on to these ideals in the midst of heady career growth and strong individual creative forces can be difficult, but they weather these storms with aplomb, and in doing so, have produced their best album to date. It is a document about striving for transcendence under “These Changing Skies.” Elephant Revival formed on the banks of Spring Creek in Tahlequah, Oklahoma and then relocated back to Nederland, Colorado in fall of 2006. They loved one another’s sense of shared values, and the way their disparate musical influences formed a more cohesive tapestry the more they played together. “It really is a natural confluence of our elemental influences,” says bassist/multi-instrumentalist Dango Rose. That elemental tapestry extends beyond music to a worldview that is expressed not only through the music, but in the group’s lyrics. That Elephant Revival worldview is connecting with fans: The band is a favorite at festivals such as Telluride Bluegrass, Vancouver Folk Festival and Old Settlers; and is selling out theaters in their native Colorado as well as legendary rooms such as Joe’s Pub in NYC, The Ark in Ann Arbor and The Tractor Tavern in Seattle.
For a band of five individuals, all of whom contribute original songs, there is a consistency in expressing those shared values. In the song from which the album’s title is culled, “Remembering A Beginning,” multi-instrumentalist Bonnie Paine, one of the band’s primary vocalists, sings of the unity of all things: “There’s a fire burning, in the middle of this turning/Wild and yearning/For everything, for everything/Remains inside, these changing skies/Through waves in time/Remembering.” The changing skies she refers to remind us that while the very stuff of the universe remains, everything is always unfolding, expanding and contracting, ebbing and flowing; changing. “If we could remember that we are all varying expressions of the same living thing,” says Paine, “maybe we would have less interpersonal and environmental struggle.” Paine also touches on a theme that is ever-present in any discussion with any member of the band — the idea of “intentionality,” as depicted in the song “Willing And Able”: “I am willing and able/In the silence of our loving/All in all is recognized/Clearly knowing our intention.” As she explains, “We all hope to develop our sense of volition with regards to how we effect and are affected.” Paine is from Oklahoma and spent many years playing with her sisters under the tutelage of the legendary Randy Crouch, who she considers the earliest important and most lasting influence on her musical sensibilities. Elephant Revival took its name from Rose’s experience busking outside the elephant cage at The Lincoln Park Zoo, in Chicago. He was moved to do so after two elephants that had lived there together for 16 years were separated by zookeepers. Within days of the separation, both elephants had died, leaving the elephant cage empty. A seed was planted in the musician to revive the spirit of the lost elephants, the spirit that flows between all things on this Earth and that animates all that the band does. “These Changing Skies” is not only great music, it is a testament to the power of love and community.
The T Sisters are an authentic family band based out of the San Francisco Bay Area. The group’s subtle throwback aesthetic calls to mind classic trios past, from the Andrews Sisters and 1960s girl-groups to the sirens from the film O Brother, Where Art Thou? Anchored by diverse influences spanning folk, country, gospel, klezmer and early-‘90s R&B, each sister brings a unique vocal and lyrical style to a repertoire that is at once modern and timeless. Rachel (vox, guitar, banjo), Chloe (vox) and Erika Tietjen (vox, guitar) are all songwriters in their own right and switch off on lead vocals. While their voices blend seamlessly, each has a distinct singing and writing style. Erika, the eldest sister, weaves a story with attitude and will belt it out with the confidence and style of a jazz diva. Rachel’s soulful and raw style is highlighted in her vintage blues-inspired tunes. Chloe sings her heartfelt and often poetic lyrics in a subtle country vibrato. The combination results in a very eclectic repertoire unified by a landscape of close harmonies. The T Sisters continue to charm audiences with their full-bodied harmonies at venues across California––from McCabe’s Guitar Shop in LA to the Freight and Salvage and Strawberry Music Festival and even their very own Oakland warehouse. They’ve enjoyed some out-of-state forays and laid their vocals on The Bitter End in Greenwich Village and Rockwood Music Hall in NYC. Most recently the T Sisters had the thrilling opportunity to sing supporting vocals for Grammy-winning musician Laurie Lewis on the stage of San Francisco’s Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival. Following up their 2011 EP, Bring Us Back, produced by Mike Marshall, the T Sisters are currently recording their first full-length album under the production of Laurie Lewis, which is due to be released in March, 2014.