Every so often the Universe lines up just right, and things you wish for actually happen. A few months ago I went on a local music hunt on youtube and found a few artists I’d never heard before, but that I really liked. One of those artists was Danielle Ate the Sandwich, a very peculiar name for an artist, and one which when combined with ukulele makes for a very strange mental image. Danielle Anderson, the singer of Danielle Ate the Sandwich, does play other instruments, not just ukulele, of course, and she plays rather impressively nice music with her ukulele. I was excited to see that she and her band would be playing at New West Fest, and while I was working during her show, I managed to make it over to her stage for a few photos for my blog while she was playing that Sunday. (I was working in the volunteer check-in booth just down the street, so I heard the whole show, of course.) But I hoped I might have a chance to take some more photos of her on stage somewhere.
So, since the Universe liked me that day, I happened to take the right path to get downtown so that I went past the Oak St. plaza when Danielle was playing her ukulele on the corner, as advertising for her show that night. A few minutes and a few songs later, I had a few pictures of her in the plaza, and was on her ‘list’ for that night. (I’m not sure how folks feel after they’ve been doing this music writing/photography stuff awhile, but having never been on someone’s list before, that was almost my favorite part of the whole weekend. I felt a lot more like a ‘real’ music blogger that night than I had anytime earlier this year. And, when I got to the show that night she still remembered my name, and made me feel welcome and appreciated. Thank you Danielle!)
The opening act for the show at Everyday Joe’s was Patrick Dethlefs, a singer-songwriter out of Denver who reminds me somewhat of Cameron Mitchell, the lad Damian McGinty seems to have adopted as his long lost twin. Maybe all Patrick needs to make it big is to meet his own version of Damian, but I’m still not convinced that the man-with-guitar acts like Patrick’s and Cameron’s belong in the commercialized mainstream. Patrick’s new album, Fall & Rise, is on spotify (yay!), which means it is now added to my feeder list, from which I pick my 20 songs each week. As someone who was new to his songs, my notes scrawled in the dim light while trying to listen and take pictures are only somewhat helpful, but I know I liked Patrick’s title track, “Fall & Rise”, a lot.
I had to go back and listen to the rest of his songs to find the lines I jotted down and figure out which titles belong to the others I particularly liked- “Far Away” and “Let’s Go”(off of Stays the Same). Patrick’s singing is somewhat similar to that of a friend of mine, Chris Nucci, who used to play at Everyday Joe’s before he moved out of Fort Collins, only since Patrick’s music is on spotify and Chris’s is not, Patrick can feature in my song lists.(So, when you see Patrick’s songs on those lists, do check out Chris Nucci’s music too. They’re both excellent musicians.) I also found it amusing when I got time to listen to Patrick’s album, that the tracks I had thought would sound even better with a hand-percussion accompaniment do in fact have percussion on the album recording. I had to look back at my photos to remind myself that he was there alone on the stage when I saw him, because the beats sounded so familiar. (Yep, I’m probably a music blogger with a percussionist’s soul.) Anyway, Patrick is just now starting out on a tour on the West Coast, armed with some distinctive t-shirts and hopefully lots of CDs for all those soon-to-be fans out west.
Both Patrick and Danielle were playing solo for this show, stripping their lovely songs down to their bare skins (guitar/ukulele/baritone ukulele and a single voice), bringing the focus back to the song itself. Listening to their album recordings, neither of these musicians tacks a lot of fluff on their songs- if they have harmonies and additional instruments these components add something good to the song. Still, the extra bits are only necessary for lesser songs; a truly great song can go naked and still be great. And, yes, thinking about these stripped songs, I always hear Neil Byrne’s voice in the back of my mind now, the bits of his video interview clip where he talks about how he likes good songs wherever he finds them. I’m sure he would get along alright with Patrick and Danielle, at least where music is concerned.
I got a bit of a sense of how Danielle Ate the Sandwich shows are, listening to the show they performed at New West Fest (the bit where they were tossing a t-shirt out into the audience, and an older woman grabbed it when it landed near a kid, leading eventually to something about dropkicking babies into oceans… I was taking pictures just at about this point in the show.) The Everyday Joe’s show featured a small red plastic box, which earlier that day Danielle had been producing after each song she played on the street corner. This little box has buttons on it, and each one, when pressed, produces a different sound. In Oak St. Plaza she was pushing the button that made the applause noise, at least when I was there. At her concert, though, she demonstrated more of its noises as sound effects to accompany jokes, failed or otherwise, and to reward audience members.
The music, of course, is what the audience thinks they go to concerts for, though, and we heard as many songs as fit in the time available, reluctantly including “Rich Girl”, a cover Danielle did her best to talk her audience out of requesting, and which led to her bringing up two members of the audience to help her sing it. We heard songs from all her albums, including a few from Things People Do and from her debut album, which Danielle didn’t bring copies of to sell at the merchandise table. Danielle Ate the Sandwich has recorded 4 albums so far (according to amazon)- Danielle Ate the Sandwich, Things People Do, Two Bedroom Apartment, and Like a King– and of course the last 2 are on my feeder list already for my 20 songs lists. My favorite song of the evening was probably “We Are Hot Dogs”, and it’s still one of my favorites a week later. I remember liking “17 and 53” a lot too, but I didn’t dislike any of what I heard, really. No doubt there will be more from these albums in my future song lists.
The audience included a few people who could safely be called fans, plus quite a few people who, like me, had a passing knowledge of Danielle’s music but without knowing many particular song titles to request. It took only a few minutes for everyone in the room to relax into to casual atmosphere Danielle created with all her jokes and stories (and yes, the red noise box). With 5 years of experience playing live shows in Fort Collins, Danielle has developed a great stage presence that is not as intimidating as a lot of musicians create. Danielle comes across as a very professional artist, of course, but one that fans can feel comfortable talking to after her shows.
My favorite songs off her albums before seeing her concert last week were “Pet Store” and “El Paso”, and I still really like these songs, but now that I have more of a context for some of the others I’m finding it harder to pick just one or two favorites anymore. “Fool” is a really great, catchy song that I had stuck in my head for a several hours yesterday, and “Soldier” is a ‘political’ song that has a lot to say, but without getting preachy or whiny.
Even if I’d never met Danielle, and was just another anonymous face in the audience, I’d have ranked this show among my favorites, right up there with seeing Alison Krauss in August (I was in the front row for both, but actually, I was sitting comfortably at Danielle’s show, in a warm dry coffee shop, and I was standing, exhausted and stiff, in a drizzle, prior to seeing Alison Krauss, so maybe Alison Krauss ranks a bit lower.) Danielle has a small tour going on now, too, and will no doubt return to Fort Collins having made herself lots of shiny new fans.