Wind In The Willows: Bozeman Band on the Rise

Reilly McNaught  |  Sunday Dec. 1st, 2019

Twenty-eight miles west of Denver, in a small community named for the trees that keep their green color all year long, childhood friends Ryen Dalvit and Maren Stubenvoll grew up writing music together in Evergreen, CO. They started making music following a project for English class, and quickly developed a shared passion for folk music and started playing small local shows. One venue required the duo have a name; following brainstorming and inspiration from the children’s novel Frog and Toad, Wind and the Willows was born. After a year at differing universities, they both landed in Bozeman, Montana, where the band began to bloom.

Wind and the Willows has since expanded, adding members through mutual friends at Montana State University (MSU) as well meeting others at local events. They met one future band member, Tommy, through a mutual friend at a Left on Tenth show at the Story Mill Mansion. From jamming in their backyard with eight guitarists and many other instruments, Wind and the Willows has now condensed to a solid eight-piece who all share the same passions for their music.

Each player adds their unique sound through their instruments and vocals, including Tommy Diestel on banjo, Sarah Budeski on Djembe (African drum), Berette McNaught on ukulele, Silas Rea on fiddle, Ryan Totman on standup bass, and Nick Popiel on trumpet. Maren plays the acoustic guitar with Ryen on mandolin, and with Berette, the three make up the vocal team.

In the past year, they have continued to grow from playing at friends’ houses and coffee shops to playing at taprooms including Bridger Brewing, hot springs including Bozeman Hot Springs in the freezing January temperatures, and locally at small music festivals. This past summer they toured in Colorado, playing multiple locations in both Denver and Evergreen, and had the opportunity to open for heavy metal bands. They even played on top of a 14,000 foot mountain. They have grown a local following, and at a recent event at the Filling Station, the entire dance floor was full. Their energy on stage translates to the crowd, creating a lively atmosphere of dancing and merriment. And If they weren’t busy enough, they still had time in early 2019 to release a feature length album – Bloom and Fade (available on both Spotify and Apple Music).

Bloom and Fade adds a unique flair to a classic folk sound with their large combination of brass, strings, and three-part harmonies. Each track was thoughtfully written and inspired by the blooming and fading of relationships, described through a motif of wildflowers including acacias, white clovers, lilies, and bluebells. It opens with “Coeur D’alene,” an upbeat song describing the thoughts towards the start of an adventure, asking “Will you forget me when I’m gone?” Its upbeat sound combined with serious lyrics set the tone for the remainder of the album.

A band favorite song, “Flood,” discusses the raw feelings that come with a short, one-night relationship. It describes being with someone, one of the most intimate experiences, how you “pretend like last night we were in love but […] how strange it must feel […] to have you disappear.” They reflect on the impact of short-term relationships and how they can “numb the nightmares of being alone.” The song “Desert Soul” shifts the album, feeling more upbeat and empowered. It has a fierce sound and repeats how “the road will set me free,” alluding to a time in a relationship when space is needed to allow for the freeing of the soul. The song “Cocaine Train” uses a fast beat with serious lyrics. It describes a point of self-realization, almost a cry for help as they offer to “take these tickets to the cocaine train. I don’t want them, for they’ve brought me here again.” Bloom and Fade ends with “White Clovers,” the flower depicted on the album cover. It describes feelings had towards the end of relationships. “I’ll see you this last time […] please don’t ever change for the next one to ride” – a beautiful way to describe feelings when a relationship fades away. “Remember my name and wait for the clovers to bloom and fade” poetically finishes the album, highlighting the main themes throughout. Overall, the album reveals genuine emotions on navigating life, including relationships and heartbreaks. Its raw lyrics and folk sound embody the passions of the Wind and the Willows.

The band’s other passions include benefitting the community. When not studying nor spending time outdoors, the members have donated their time to raise funds for the Bridger Ski Foundation as well as performing benefits for both Eagle Mount and the Land and Water Conservation Fund. They continue to support their school by playing at MSU-run events. This fall season they have been working hard in the Jerico Studios, recording new singles with the ultimate goal to release an album in 2020. They continue to play gigs around town and look forward to the upcoming festival season this summer. Wind and the Willows love being a part of the local Bozeman music scene and look forward to growing and evolving in the coming year. Keep Wind and the Willows on your radar with new shows and music coming soon.  

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