BY LAURENCE VITTES
Danielle Ate the Sandwich is the stage name for uke-playing-songwriter Danielle Anderson. Getting her start in Fort Collins, Colorado, Danielle has been touring nationally since 2009 after cultivating an online following she calls her fanwiches, a following she amassed thanks to her homemade Youtube videos and unique marketing.
Anderson has played internationally, opened for Mumford and Sons and Suzanne Vega, and toured with another YouTube sensation, Pomplamoose. In 2014 she wrote the soundtrack for Michelle Boyaner’s Emmy nominated HBO documentary Packed in a Trunk: The Lost Art of Edith Lake Wilkinson. Her latest album, Live in San Francisco, was released in May.
Her tour dates this month [October] include Boyertown, Pennsylvania—the Funky Frets Uke Festival, October 4-6, capped off by a Sunday Strum-along Train Ride on the Historic Colebrookdale Railroad—and an appearance at the Museum in Longmont, Colorado.
She’s also deep in preparations, along with Jeff Freling and Erin McGrane of Victor and Penny, for the second annual Wonderstruck Ukulele Academy in Fort Collins, which will take place November 7-9. It’s an immersive educational event focused on performance and songwriting “for the intermediate ukulele player looking to sharpen their skills, and connect with other creative and driven musicians.”
I spoke with Danielle from her new homebase in Kansas City, Missouri.
What brought you to Kansas City?
I moved from Fort Collins, Colorado, to Kansas City in an effort to rediscover myself and take a break from touring and focus back on writing. I just felt so busy that I wasn’t enjoying myself as much as I thought I ought to. So this year I mostly played ukulele festivals because those are great—great things to be a part of—and I’m just doing less traveling in my car. It took me awhile to catch up with myself and realize that I was a little unbalanced and I needed to focus myself on things that were important to me. And it made me feel good as a music maker. Erin and Jeff were there and raved about it, it’s affordable, has a cool music scene, and it’s close enough to Denver where my mom lives. So far, it’s been great.
There’s a lot of tragedy in the movie and, and pain and the baritone was a great instrument to kind of pull out some of those themes and emotions.
What’s the reception been to Live in San Francisco?
It’s been good. I meant it as a compliment to what I have been doing for ten years—traveling the country solo telling songs and stories about my journey, about myself, about my life as a songwriter. It’s a really cool summary of what I am as a performer.
Tell me about Wonderstruck.
It is wonderful. I formed it with Jeff and Erin in 2018. We had played lots of ukulele festivals collectively and together, and we felt like ukulele festivals are great but we wanted to showcase what we do which is our ability and commitment to making things your own—in other words: developing your individual style as a musician. We wanted to create a place where people who are interested in developing those skills can come and learn from us. We focus on performance or arranging or songwriting as ways to develop your skills as an artist so you can get more comfortable onstage. We’re lucky to have a great venue in Fort Collins called the Music District with a performance hall and classrooms.
How did the Edith Lake Wilkinson soundtrack happen.
I had worked with the fillmmakers, fanwiches I had originally met on a community food show in LA. I had put some of my music into Michelle’s indie film The Bedwetter for no money, but a promise to keep me in mind. When they asked me to do the soundtrack I fearfully said yes, not exactly knowing how to do that and not feeling like a strong enough composer. But what I did was right. I started writing the songs before they finished shooting because I was nervous about getting it done. So I was just writing, writing, writing before I even had a finished version of the film inside of me.
What made the baritone the right instrument?
There’s a lot of tragedy in the movie and, and pain and the baritone was a great instrument to kind of pull out some of those themes and emotions. The movie shows Edith’s art to the world, so the baritone was a good instrument to showcase redemption.