“This all started as a series of jam sessions in the kitchen,” says Joe Funk, bassist for the breakout progressive bluegrass band Kitchen Dwellers. “We were getting together to play covers and traditional music and old-time tunes for fun after school, and everything else just evolved from there.”
For Kitchen Dwellers, “everything else,” as Funk so modestly puts it, has been nothing short of remarkable. In the near-decade they’ve been together, the Montana-based four-piece has performed for thousands at Red Rocks, shared bills with the likes of Railroad Earth, The Infamous Stringdusters, and Twiddle, graced festival stages from Northwest String Summit to WinterWonderGrass, and transcended traditional genre boundaries, blending virtuosic bluegrass wizardry with ecstatic rock and roll energy and adventurous psychedelia. With their spectacular new album, ‘Muir Maid,’ the group has come fully into their own, seamlessly blending the past, present, and future of string band music to create their most daring and collaborative work yet.
Daniel Donato calls his sound “cosmic country.” By way of explanation: “It is inspired by jam bands and classic country music that I learned from playing honky-tonks in Nashville for over 500 four-hour-long shows for tips,” Donato says.
He comes from the small town of Spring Hill, Tennessee, about 35 miles south of where he now lives in Music City. Good thing Donato found his love of music early “by being bad at skateboarding, but not so bad at Guitar Hero.” The result of that discovery and all that stage jamming is A Young Man’s Country, his first album, which came out in July.
You’ll no doubt have your own comparisons when you hear this instantly likeable and honest music. For me it was a trip back to halcyon college days in California and the foundations of my abiding love for something you might loosely call country rock. The Grateful Dead, Flying Burrito Brothers, the Byrds, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Bonnie Raitt, Emmylou Harris, Little Feat, Buffalo Springfield, Poco, Pure Prairie League, the Ozark Mountain Daredevils — I can see the album covers and the spinning vinyl, hear the needle touch down on that gorgeous turntable, feel the music and endorphins kick in. This record would have been right at home then and is still a great down-home fit in 2020.