Artist: Kind Country
Latest album: Hard Times
Personal nicknames (or rejected band names): Evil Country
Which artist has influenced you the most … and how?
It has got to be Jerry Garcia, his ability to fuse elements of American music and bring it to a new audience is undoubtedly an inspiration. A lot of Jerry’s inspiration came from the original bluegrass artists — Bill Monroe, The Stanley Brothers and the like. Their work ethic, drive and dedication to the music serves as a framework for us all.
What’s your favorite memory from being on stage?
Well it’s still pretty recent to be considered a ‘memory’, but just this last week at First Avenue in Minneapolis. The room holds such significance for any Minnesotan artists who steps onto that stage, and all of us being there together was very special. I remember at one point, Chris and I finished a song lying on our backs, and the crowd went nuts. I was laughing, looking up at the lights, and everyone on stage was smiling. And when I looked out into the crowd, I could see so many people who had been with us since our first show smiling too. It really felt like family; it really felt like home.
What other art forms — literature, film, dance, painting, etc — inform your music?
We hang out out with a lot of crafters: jewelers, carpenters, luthiers, glassblowers and such. Their process of obtaining quality materials, paying attention to detail, incorporating their art into something useful and meaningful at the same time. We strive to emulate that our music.
What rituals do you have, either in the studio or before a show?
Before most of our shows we go on really long van rides. It’s sort of a forced ritual.
Which elements of nature do you spend the most time with and how do those impact your work?
Driving the highways across the Great Plains is very comforting to me. In the summer, when everything is in bloom, it’s just the green touching the blue. I’ve spent much of my childhood and adult life against that backdrop. And watching the sun set over Sandy Lake in central Minnesota from the view of the porch at our family cabin speaks volumes to me. When the water is still like glass, dragonflies hover over the water and almost silence except the occasional call of a loon. In those moments of stillness, all the troubles of the world melt away. In the summer time as a boy I would eat supper on that deck with my grandparents, aunts uncles and cousins. This year I’ll be spending evenings there with my wife, children, nieces and nephews. These places hold a special place in my heart and mind and I imagine that’s where my songs come from.
Photo credit: Tim McG Photo