Their last performance was a sold-out show at Red Rocks in the spring of 2018. They were on indefinite hiatus, members of the Nederland folk band Elephant Revival had announced, on account of “family time.”
In reality, both the band — a tight-knit quartet of friends and musicians — and guitarist/co-founder Daniel Rodriguez’s 14-year relationship with lead singer/co-founder Bonnie Paine had dissolved.
“It was a romantic breakup that was also intertwined with my professional life,” Rodriguez told the Denver publication Westword. “It was kind of a double whammy. Given some time, two years after, I’ve done a bit of healing and a bit of perspective-gaining, and just do my best to move through all that stuff emotionally.”
Indeed, though Rodriguez’s circumstances may have changed radically in early 2018, he was still the same person — a singer-songwriter and guitarist/banjo-player with stories to share. And so, following the breakup of those professional and personal partnerships, Rodriguez began writing again; his EP, “Your Heart, the Stars, the Milky Way” was released early last year.
Now Rodriguez’s first full-length, solo album, “filled with songs written toward the end of Elephant Revival and in its aftermath,” is out. Rodriguez will be in concert this weekend in Paonia, and then in Ridgway, to share them. To perform right now “is one way to approach it,” he said of this unusual time, “and fulfill what I was born to do. If there was enough wherewithal,” he would be touring right now with fellow musicians to accompany him. “These shows are actually solo.”
Times change. And as Rodriguez has moved on, he’s changed his approach to some of his songs, as well.
“I kind of weave in a few little threads of optimism and perspective,” he said. “I still sing them with emotion, but without the emotion of the day of the breakup. Over the early parts of the pandemic I actually wrote another record’s worth of material, songs that are very universal and have nothing to do with romantic heartbreak. I’m going to play some of those songs in Ridgway” for sure.
To keep audiences safe and socially distanced and yet still accommodate the number of people who want to see them, musicians at the Courtyard often play two sets. It’s a set-up Rodriguez favors.
“By the second show, you have a really good feeling for the room,” he said, “and especially this way, everybody can have a good, private experience. There are a lot of plusses to performing two sets. There’s a lot more intimacy. You have more elbow room! Once things get back to the way they were, I think there’ll be some adaptations in the music industry” as a result of the way seating arrangements have changed during this time. “I’ll look back and say, I really did like those smaller shows. I’ll probably do more of that stuff.”
Rest assured, Rodriguez does believe things will get back to the way they were, perhaps even better. As he writes on the title track of his new album, “Sojourn of a Burning Sun,”
“In the cauldron of all there is, or the altar of your heart
Every fire that ever blazed
Must have started from a spark.
In the fires of the night, the bottom of a rung.
In the shadows of the atmosphere
Or the sojourn of a burning sun.”
Rodriguez “cements himself as a solo performer,” Rolling Stone has said of the new album.
And speaking of solo: the life of a troubadour holds its own appeal, Rodriguez pointed out. “I’m very excited to get back to the area,” he said of his foray this weekend to the Western Slope. “There’s something really romantic about just me and my guitar, heading out into the car. Your only obligation is to plug in and play a show. I’d be more than happy to come out toward Telluride and do another show. I love the area, and this is what I was born to do. I’ll take any chance to get out there and soak up the surroundings.”
For tickets to Daniel Rodriguez’s concert at the 610 Courtyard on Sunday, visit sherbino.org.