Elephant Revival Interview

Elephant Revival is a band that blends folk music with bluegrass, celtic music, psychedelic country, indie rock, and occasionally, even reggae and hip hop. Even with so many different sounds in their songs, they retain a style that is distinctly their own—mostly because of their wonderful vocals and environmentally conscious themes. Since 2006, they’ve been building a solid fan base around the country, and are about to embark on a Midwest tour. On September 28th, they’ll be playing at the Majestic Theatre in Madison, just a skip away from Murfie HQ—so we thought the time was perfect to learn a bit more about them! Here’s a Q&A I had with Dan Rodriguez (acoustic guitar, electric banjo/guitar, vocals). We talked via phone from his friend’s studio in Boulder, Colorado:

K: I see you guys are from Nederland, Colorado!

D: Yeah. We started there, and we all lived there for a handful of years. Just recently Sage moved back to Kansas to the family farm. So we’re not all living in Nederland now, but we still consider ourselves a Nederland band.

K: I actually visited that place for the first time last year for Nedfest—have you gone to that?

D: I’ve gone to it many times, and performed there a few times too. It’s a hometown fest!

K: Nederland is a funky little town, there’s mountains and taverns and flannel—I love it. And the people are really nice. One thing I like about your band is it’s a co-ed band, a mix of guys and girls. Have you found that it brings a certain energy to the band?

D: I certainly couldn’t imagine it any differently. The men and the women—the kind of alchemy that happens—it’s just been such an integral part of everything. It’s just a big part of our sound and part of the vibe.

K: So you all are coming to Madison on September 28th —do you have shows in between then?

D: Yeah, we do. We have one in Minneapolis, at the Cedar Cultural Center, and then we play Boats and Bluegrass Festival in Winona, Minnesota, then we play Ames, Iowa, and then we’re in Madison.

K: Have you had some good luck touring in the past? Do you like to travel around for shows?

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Overwhelmed by 99 probs?

10 ways to be nice to our planet

In sharp contrast to my typical devil-may-care ‘tude (“Dream on, Ashley”), I’m gonna get a little heavy here. The world’s got >99 problems. There’s no way around it. Sustainable development, climate change, poverty, species extinction, energy security…the swarm of social, political, economic, and environmental issues can get a little overwhelming. What’s more distressing is the feeling that we are powerless to do anything, that individual action would be ineffectual, that no one is actually capable of making a meaningful difference. That’s a little scary. But you know what? I don’t think that’s an accurate representation of our capability and willingness to force change. I mean, nobody can do everything, BUT everyone can do something. And small steps can make great strides. “If you think you’re too small to be effective, you have never been in bed with a mosquito” (Betty Reese).

So to get the ball rolling, I thought I’d brainstorm a few easy, painless ways we can all (all!) help out:

1) Recycle, including old electronics (no explanation needed).
2) Buy in bulk to reduce the amount of packaging waste.
3) Unplug electronics when you’re not using them to kill standby/phantom power.
4) Use reusable drinking containers, instead of disposable coffee cups and plastic water bottles.
5) Turn off the lights when you leave a room to reduce energy use.
6) Don’t take 10 minute showers – consider cutting your shower short by a few minutes to conserve water.
7) Lower your home thermostats, including water heater, to conserve energy.
8) Buy energy efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs to save energy.
9) Use a reusable rag or towel, instead of napkins and paper towels.
10) Use reusable lunch bags and shopping bags to cut down on paper and plastic.

Obviously, there are a ton of other ways to help our planet, so we’d love to hear your suggestions. A good idea goes a long way, so have at it! @murfiemusic