July 17, 2019
Holding Space for Community with Bridget Law
By Tibby Plasse
People talk about holding space for elders, intentions, or the landscape, but few actualize the practice so well that it organically becomes part of work and play. Enter Bridget Law, a Colorado front-range native who is teaching musicians, event organizers, and women how to hold space and improve experiences for all involved. Law is most commonly known as a founding member of the swoony folk grass band Elephant Revival, from Boulder, CO and now plays alongside her husband Tierro Lee. The Tierro Band with Bridget Law cacophony pulls in Arabian scales, rock instrumentation, and trance melodies to create a unique dance and music experience. We caught up with Law at WinterWonderGrass, a community and family-friendly ski-town bluegrass and beer festival to find out how she’s helping to shape a better festival experience for the whole community––artists, fans, and the mountain towns in which the festivals take place.
Let’s begin with you telling us a little bit about your transition away from touring. You've gotten married, and that's a huge transition alone. What’s it's like, this big decision to come home, to say “I'm done with the road”? It's a massive decision for a musician.
It was about two years ago before I played my last show with Elephant Revival that we were in Tahoe and I was kind of raising a ruckus in the group. I was opening up the conversation with people like “Hey, I'm not satisfied with this. There's something missing here, you know, the soul––the initial energy that brought all of us together in Elephant Revival.” At that time, we were a little bit in jeopardy. Eventually, we were able to revive the energetics, but at the time Sage had left, and the band was sort of in its own transition. I just felt like we weren't grounded.
You get to a place in your life where you have to make sure you do what you want to do before you look backward, and you go “Fuck! I missed the opportunity.“ I had met Tierro [Lee], and I was in love with Tierro, and I knew that was going to be important in my life. So, I started having the conversation with everybody, asking “What are your dreams? What are the big things that you want to do outside of just being on this tour bus and playing a hundred shows a year?” Because when you're on a tour and you're playing a hundred shows a year, that’s enough. Sure, there's another 200 whatever 65 days of the year. But you’re either traveling or recuperating from traveling.
How do you ground yourself and maintain yourself as an artist? You were living with your band all the time, constantly being able to play with each other and have that synergy. What is it like to sort of pull out of that and find a different one as a solo artist and how do you hold space there?
Well, luckily I feel like one thing that Elephant Revival did well is that we gave each other a lot of space. So although we were stuck in each other’s worlds all the time, we gave each other mental space and time to be alone. So thankfully, when it did come time for me to be more sedentary and have my own direction in life it wasn't too foreign for me. I was ready. I knew I had the tools that I needed to be in my own life and guiding my own ship and I was pretty stoked on it. I'd say the harder part for me was going from being “on” all the time and ready to jump at any opportunity, to being still and allowing myself space and time to just process and whatever that felt like—if it was an emotional experience, if it was being confused, if it was being quiet, whatever it was. I have to say that working for this Festival (WinterWonderGrass) which is run by my dear friend, Scotty Stoughton—who I have been friends with for almost 15 years—was a real natural transition and it's really helped the aspect of me that is like, “I know that I'm good at being on all the time, but it's not good for me to be on all the time.” So what this festival provides for me and working for Scotty provides for me, is that four weeks out of the year for three WinterWonderGrasses and one Campout for the Cause, I'm my old self. I'm actually on as my new self, but I activate the part of my skill set that is available from an earlier part of my life.
What are you doing for Scotty Stoughton’s production company Bonfire Entertainment and WinterWonderGrass?
Accurately speaking I'm Scotty’s assistant. So I do a lot of the little things that Scotty would generally take care of but he trusts me to take care of. It's freed him up to do other things like grow the business and introduce other qualities and elements into what he does and expand them. So I do a lot of really cool shit. I do a lot of creative curation. We have a lot of spontaneous music where we set up a bunch of musicians and throw them on stage. Generally, I'm the one wrangling those musicians, coming up with the setlist and kind of figuring out the best way to make sure that everybody shines—which I think is kind of my life’s purpose is. I love to help find a space for people to shine and now I get to do that. For instance, in these spontaneous music sets, I make sure each musician gets to offer a tune and I try to place it in a deliberately so that every tune is great and every person is acknowledged for their talents.
What are the other festivals have you take more of a production role in?
Sister Winds was last summer, which was a really cool experience. That was a female-centric festival and I definitely lifted it up. It was always a small gathering, about 200 people at a farm. I brought it to the Mish [Mishakawa Amphitheatre] and we brought six hundred people and had a really stellar line-up and a legitimate talent budget. We really blew it up and was awesome. I did, however, decide not to keep doing that. Not that I wouldn't want to continue to do a woman's festival because it's something that I would like to do, and I'd be happy to do some time under the right circumstances. But this particular one was in its 10th year actually and was already pretty established. I would be more drawn to starting something from scratch.
And can you talk about Arise?
It's been beautiful. Tierro and I fell in love at Arise. We got married at Sunrise Ranch where Arise is held, and it’s a huge part of my family and my life but a very different festival than WinterWonderGrass. Arise has a huge activism element and it’s also held at Sunrise Ranch where there's a hundred and sixty residents who are already holding space for conscious evolution. That's what they are devoted to do. So the land itself is dedicated to conscious evolution and then they have a big dome which is their spiritual headquarters. It's a really great area for discussion and presentations. So they're able to hold forums and panels and play films. I've done some really cool things every year with Barbara Marx Hubbard. She's been writing about conscious evolution since the 1960s. She ran for vice president at one point based on her platform of co-creativity, which was a bummer that that was overlooked. She and I do these fun things at Arise where she speaks and she tells people her story and I'm supposed to, on the fly, come up with the music that goes along with her what she’s saying. She and I have a really great connection. But those are the kinds of special things that happen at Arise. It can go a lot further beyond music, into what stimulates the fans––though you know there are almost 10,000 people there and the headliner is an EDM artist. I think the yoga tent really helps widen the consciousness. We’re in really close proximity to Boulder, so for me, all the colors at the Front Range shine at that event!
Tell us more about Empowered Hearts.
Empowered Hearts is my collaboration with my best friend, Katie Gray. We are just kindred, so deeply kindred. She is a divine channel for therapy. She's been through a lot––her life story is crazy and the amount of trauma that she's had to persevere through is really interesting. She’s developed some amazing tools that help people, surface through trauma, get back in the game, to know and develop themselves the way they want to develop themselves and give themselves forgiveness for what has happened and forgive others. Learning to trust again through becoming aware of patterns of shame and judgment. Katie does workshops called Voice of Truth and she's been developing this material for a long time. When the Dalai Lama says a western woman will save the world, I think of Katie. We created this 24-hour and workshop that is basically a really intentional, deep slumber party. We do a lot of emotional processing and we do physical movement as well to help the process along. We lay in the same room and she sings us all to sleep through this meditative and shamanic journey––we enter the subconsciousness together, and then we come out in the morning and having shared a really powerful experience. We work on the building blocks and the tools and we talk about choosing, love over fear, and how real that can be. You basically leave with like 20 or 30 women friends––really good friends because you've just been through kind of a birth. We’re hosting one in May in Carbondale at a beautiful ranch.
Do you have any advice for our readers?
Perhaps I’ll share something I learned on the road. No matter what's going on around me, the most important thing is being able to tap in, quiet down, and listen to my heart space. Checking in with myself to say “OK, what do I need right now?” or “What's important in this moment?” I think that that's how I manage things like opening the gates today [at WinterWonderGrass], and making sure everybody had their credentials, and/or taking care of the staff transportation. Knowing that when it's time to pause, to take a pause. When it's time to take care of me, I take care of me. Yeah, I think this is very important. For example, my family's here, Tierro and Aaron our eight-year-old. I make sure they go up on the mountain, and then I do my job. I'm juggling a lot of balls right now, but everybody feels attended to because I feel attended to myself.