Just a little more than a year ago, the Vilar Center welcomed a young girl and her ukulele who, with an ethereal voice, sang songs that spoke to listeners of all ages. Danielle Ate the Sandwich, a Fort Collins based folk singer and songwriter whose real name is Danielle Anderson, performed at the Vilar Center in October 2012 as part of the fall’s Underground Sound series.
The beauty of that particular offseason series is that tickets are cheap enough you can take a chance on going to see an artist you’ve never heard of before.
“Many (people) were surprised by how much they enjoyed her performance,” said the Vilar’s Executive Director Kris Sabel. “They didn’t know what to expect with a name like Danielle Ate the Sandwich. It’s always fun and more satisfying when the audience comes without expectation and realizes the simple joy of experiencing a talented performer in a live setting.”
She made enough of an impact on Sabel and others that he brought her back for the 2014 winter season lineup.
“The audience loved her stories about herself and her songs, and seemed to really connect with her songwriting,” Sabel said. “One of the reasons I like having her on the series is her songs feel right to both a younger and an older audience.”
Anderson plays as a trio at the Vilar Wednesday night.
“I play ukulele and guitar,” Anderson said. “I have a stand up bass player named Dennis and a violinist named Chris. These guys bring a lot of great ambiance and atmosphere to my songs. The arrangements are simple, but we try to make it as big and as little as it can go. I really like the acoustic/folk/stringed instrument thing we have going. The sound of the trio is calm and at times thick. It’s very soothing and a real delight to play with such talented musicians.”
Anderson took the time to answer a few questions for the Vail Daily.
Vail Daily: What have you been up to since your previous performance at the Vilar Center?
Danielle Anderson: Since playing the Vilar Center in October of 2012, I moved to Minneapolis for a year, then moved back to Colorado. I toured around the nation, traveled to Iceland for fun with my friends, went to Yellowstone with my family, learned some things about life and love, tried to keep my eyes open and constantly observing and starting working on writing the soundtrack for a documentary about the artist, Edith Lake Wilkinson. Kid stuff, mostly.
VD: Kris Sabel from the Vilar Center said one of the things he likes about you is your songs appeal to both a younger and an older audience. Can you speak to that?
DA: It’s a great compliment to hear that someone thinks my music appeals to a wide range of generations! I like to imagine the parents driving their kids to the Danielle Ate the Sandwich show, leave feeling surprised and entertained, thinking “Well, she was a charming girl.” I am just writing what I know, but I take what wisdom I have and wrap it up in a fun and colorful, youthful presentation. The sound of my music is fairly agreeable, so ears of all ages can listen and appreciate, but if you choose to listen a little harder, the message of the songs is layered and can get deep. I like that the songs can be easy to take in on first listen, but become more if you choose to let them. So, there are serious elements but, I mean, my stage name is Danielle Ate the Sandwich, so that attracts a younger crowd.
VD: Last time we talked to you said you were a recent vegetarian. Did it stick?
DA: I am still mostly a vegetarian. I didn’t eat any meat for a year and a half, but have lately started eating small bits of meat things, mostly because it’s more convenient. I don’t know that I believe in it enough to go through all the trouble! Ha! That’s just about the worst thing I could say, but you heard it here first! I am a dedicated, serious singer and songwriter with no desire to carry out convictions that may be inconvenient. I’m an American singer and songwriter!
VD: When did you move back to Colorado?
DA: I moved out of Minneapolis, back to Fort Collins, this September. I played a few gigs in the Twin Cities and tried to start something good for my music out there, but it was a slow burn. I tend to do things my own way and that sometimes leaves me orbiting a “scene” of my own. I don’t usually want to do same type of leg work a lot of other bands are doing-playing until 3 in the morning, on a bill with six other acts, getting paid $20, loading in and loading out ... I’d rather play in a coffee shop all alone, for free, where people will listen and there isn’t much trash on the floor and we can all be done and in bed by 10 p.m. I like my shows to feel safe. I think that’s another way I appeal to the young and the old.
I didn’t realize how much I missed Colorado until I moved back. It was very nice to come home.
VD: What can people expect from your show?
DA: We will be playing songs. Don’t come to this show if you don’t want to hear songs. I always aim to entertain. I like to give honesty in my performances, by being open during the songs and during the in-betweens, when I might be telling stories, or talking. It feels a lot like my concerts are conversations with the audience, though I am usually the one talking, since I have the microphone. I hope to make people laugh and I definitely hope to make people listen. I think my music is nice but I am biased, because I am its mother. Those who come to our show at the Vilar can hope to expect a simple, humble, human experience. Just a young woman sharing her soul through songs and wishing that the room full of people in front of her are open to sharing that experience.
VD: Are you working on anything new?
DA: I am writing the soundtrack for a new documentary film about the artist Edith Lake Wilkinson. She was an artist in the late 1800s who was mysteriously sent to an insane asylum. All of her belongings, paintings and sketchbooks were packed in a trunk and she was never heard from again. A generation later, a curious family member pulled her things out of the trunk stored in the attic and began asking questions. The documentary tells the story of Edith Lake Wilkinson and Jane Anderson, her great niece, who is trying to solve the mystery of what happened and bring life and credit to Wilkinson’s work as an artist (www.edithlakewilkinson.com/). My job is to write music beautiful enough to accompany this story. It’s going to be pretty hard, but I’m excited for the challenge and the opportunity to do something new and difficult. I think it’s an important part of life, and one of my continual goals, to make sure I’m always up for scaring the pants off of myself.