The band Elephant Revival, a group that plays an evocative form of folk music some have dubbed transcendental, is playing two sets at next weekend's Ogden Music Festival.
Band members will also be conducting workshops at the festival, and playing a short set after the festival's end at Monday Night at the Movies on June 4 at the Ogden Amphitheater.
The band has not played Ogden before, though, being based in Colorado now, it has made a number of trips to other parts of Utah. In fact, even the band's name has an unusual Utah connection.
Two elephants lived in Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo at the time bass/mandolin/banjo-playing singer Daniel "Dango" Rose was passing through in 2005. A former Chicago native, Rose had a busking spot outside the elephant's cages.
He took note sometime later when one of the two elephants was to be moved to the Hogle Zoo in Salt Lake City.
"In transport, that elephant collapsed and passed away," said Rose, calling from Colorado. "And then in Chicago -- on the very same night -- the same thing happened to the elephant they left behind. They chalk it up to some kind of telepathic thing, a connection they had."
By that time, the band members -- also including Bonnie Paine (washboard/djembe/ musical saw/vocals), Sage Cook (banjos/guitars/mandolin/viola/vocals), Daniel Rodriguez (guitars/banjos/vocals) and Bridget Law (fiddle/vocals) -- knew each other, and had discovered a bit of musical magic happened when festivals brought them together.
"That terrible event with those elephants put a spark in my mind that it was time to move on," said Rose. "It planted the seed for a new group -- bringing the tribes together, all of us in one location and forming a band, to revive the spirit of the elephants. We kind of adopted them as a totem, using their sad story to bring people together. We moved to Colorado and got serious about this."
The members of Elephant Revival first came together in Tahlequah, Okla., the capital of the Cherokee Nation. There, at a renowned folk festival, their sound started taking shape in jams.
Rose goes so far as to say that the band, with roots as deep but as as far-flung as juvenile Texas fiddle contests, hillbilly music, powwows and Colorado hippie jam fests, is bigger than the sum of their parts, making a sound that combined all of their experiences into something new.
"It's kind of weird," said Rose "We think with one mind a lot of the time, especially when it comes to the music. A natural extension of each other."
They released an album on their own in 2008, then were signed to Ruff Shod Records in 2010. They released "Break in the Clouds" later that year.
According to a review of the album in the Oklahoma Gazette: "Male and female vocals trade off throughout -- neither side more talented, both pristine and matching the airtight arrangements perfectly. There is no outlaw within 50 miles of this country/folk mix; these are tunes that evoke the feel of a family sitting around the fire and harmonizing."
As the band members started to look back at five years as recording artists, they decided they wanted to mark the occasion with something besides just another album.
Rose credits Paine and Law with the idea of putting together a songbook that would include not just words and music to band favorites, but also artwork and photographs documenting their time together.
Called simply "Elephant Revival Songbook, Volume 1," they hope to have it ready for sale this summer.
Said Rose: "This idea was pulling on Bonnie's heartstrings -- the idea of offering up more than something you could get on the Internet, or of making a simple songbook that is just words and chords. The opportunity for another outlet for expression really appealed to us all, and so did the idea of documenting our first five years."
Rose said he found it fascinating how splendidly the photos and art from each band member, mostly random creations never intended for a group project, seemed to fit together.
"It has been a total adventure," he said. "I am really grateful for it, for everyone's involvement. I think the fans will really like what this is."
He is also grateful for not only being invited to the Ogden Music Festival to perform, but also to do community outreach and the show before the movie Monday night.
"It's always a great thing to be able to give back to a community, or to the music, to see it go on in new hands," he said. "We know we have been very lucky. We want to give back, and give people chances the way we were given them."
- WHO: Elephant Revival
- WHAT: Ogden Music Festival
- WHEN: 5:30 p.m. June 2 and 6:30 p.m. June 3
- WHERE: Fort Buenaventura Park, 2450 ‘A’ Ave., Ogden
- TICKETS: Friday or Sunday: $20/advance, $25/at the gate; Saturday: $25, $30/day of; three-day pass, $50/advance or $55/day of. Advance tickets at www.ofoam.org