Montana-based act Kitchen Dwellers has been in our family since 2016, and we’re pleased they’ll be joining us along two stops this coming year! Catch them at both the California and Vermont iterations of WinterWonderGrass 2020.
We took a moment to catch up with banjoist Torrin Daniels in advance of Muir Maid, the latest addition to their catalog produced by fellow-WinterWonderGrasser Chris Pandolfi (The Infamous Stringdusters).
Take a listen to their latest track “Shadows” below or on your preferred streaming platform while you read on.
We’re so excited to welcome you on multiple festival lineups this year! In your opinion, what is it that makes WinterWonderGrass so special and why do you think all the acts try to return each year?
Hey thanks! We are always very excited to be included on anything WWG, and super stoked to be on both the Squaw and Stratton lineups this year! In my opinion, I think the WWG family is doing something huge here by basically turning festival season into a year-round endeavor. Touring bands get used to this routine of going on long, grueling tours for the fall, winter, and spring. Then, summer is like this wild and free moment and all of a sudden, you’re back with all your friends again. Then for three months you run around the country and basically attend these radical parties every weekend, and you see people and bands that you know and love from all over, one after another at breakneck speed. Then fall tour hits and you’re back on the bus.
But with events like WinterWonderGrass, we’re seeing this community grow closer and stronger even throughout the dark winter months, which I think is something really special. Also there’s just this level of excellence attached to everything with the WWG stamp on it. This collective of people work so hard to make sure these experiences are top-notch, and do everything to ensure artists are well taken care of at their events. It also never hurts to combine bluegrass and skiing for one hell of a good time!
How will you prep for each of the locations and will your setlists be inspired, in part, by your unique surroundings?
Well if we’re driving to either of these festivals, I can definitely say there’ll be some ski gear in our trailer! We love taking part in the activities each mountain has to offer. And since we are from Montana, I think it’s more than likely that we’ll be as prepared as we can be for some inclement weather. As far as setlists go, I am a huge fan of playing topical originals and covers, so we’ll definitely throw in something special for the people at each festival. Last year at our Stratton late night, I think we threw in “Cold as Ice” by Foreigner. I love doing things like that–gotta make it special for those fans in that particular moment. We also never play the same set twice, so the band will absolutely be doing our best to provide a unique experience for folks who attend our set.
Have you visited either of these upcoming locations, either as part of WWG or during a tour, for fun, etc.? What makes each place unique in your eyes?
Yes! We’ve actually now had the privilege of playing at all three WWG locations. We’ve also played in all three of these areas on multiple tours, and I know we’ve all been to at least a couple of the three locations while not on tour. Each mountain really has its own beauty. I’ve always thought of the Tahoe area as just being super unique, anyway. You come up over the hill from Reno and all of a sudden, you’re in this lush valley with a huge, pristine lake, and surrounded by massive peaks covered up with these gigantic conifers–such epic scenery. And the people there just live it up like no other! We always have a great time at Squaw.
Now Stratton I haven’t gotten to see as much, but our band does have a deep-seated love for the state of Vermont that goes way back. I’ve always loved the rural nature of all those little mountain communities, and the people there remind me so much of Montana. Plus we have tons of friends in these places, so now we associate going to these epic mountains with getting to hang with wonderful people.
Take a peek at who else is on your same bills. Who are you most excited to see perform at the festival? What collaborations do you anticipate (either your own or others)?
Well as far as Squaw goes, I think I’m most excited to see Keller and the Keels cause I’m just a sucker for anything Keller or Larry and Jenny lay their hands on.
At Stratton I am VERY much looking forward to the return of the almighty Cabinet! Love those boys.
But seriously it’s getting to a point in this community where what I look forward to most is spending time with many of these musicians we’ve gotten to be friends with over the years. The Stringdusters. Billy Strings and his boys. Fruition. Our old Montana brothers The Lil’ Smokies. Those Biondo boys and the rest of Cabinet. The list goes on and on and on! Hopefully all these friends in one place equates to some pickin’ here and there, and that’s just another thing that makes WWG so awesome. If nothing else I know we’ll steal away Pappy and JP Biondo for some tunes!
Sustainability is HUGE for the WWG community. What practices do you adopt in your daily life to help curb your environmental impact?
Yet another thing we love about this festival and community. Well for starters, our soundman, Scully, has been attending and working at Burning Man for about 11 years now. So the whole ethos of “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” is a big thing in our touring party. If a piece of equipment breaks on tour, usually Scully will do everything he possibly can to repair it instead of just buying something new. We keep a cooler in the trailer and make a lot of our own meals on tour, and we usually do a great job of utilizing any leftovers we may have. We also try our best to stay away from single-use water bottles, although that can be an especially tricky thing to avoid in the music industry. At home, my lady and I recycle, buy a lot of things in bulk, and use our own grocery bags (when we remember to). I know for a fact that all of us recycle at home and use Hydroflasks/Nalgenes instead of single-use water bottles.
Other than your performance at WWG, what else is coming up on your docket between now and then? In 2020?
Well, I’m very happy to say that we’ve been incredibly busy this year and it doesn’t show any signs of slowing down! To begin with, we’re coming out with a new album, called Muir Maid on November 8th. It was produced by our friend Chris Pandolfi from the Infamous Stringdusters, and we are so ready to get this thing out there into the world. Actually, we’re also getting ready to head out on tour with The Dusters shortly! We’ll be playing a handful of dates with them starting on Halloween night in Philadelphia.
We’ll also be throwing a pretty serious bluegrass-hair-metal-themed New Years Eve party in Salt Lake City which should be a hoot. Then we’ll kick off 2020 with our first time on Jam Cruise, which is just crazy to think about. We’re living the dream, really.