An interview with Banshee Tree

By Vicky Youcha

Boulder has a new swing band in town. Banshee tree recently moved to the area and have been playing at venues around town. We sat down with them to find out what makes them tick.

Tell us how your band got started and what styles of music you play.

Our band begun in upstate New York, where we are from. Kalyn was working in a unique little coffee shop and Thom happened to be playing jazz on the street outside. It was Kalyn's last day working, so she asked Thom to play some music together. After that, we went travelling across the country playing swing, blues, and standard jazz.

Why did you guys recently move to the Boulder area?

During our trips across the country, Boulder's street music scene really drew us here. The art, music, dancing, and the eclectic groups of folks struck us from our first visit. We couldn't be happier.

Who are your musical influences? What bands and artists do you draw inspiration from?

Early influences would include Billie Holiday, Cab Calloway, Ma Rainey, Djengo Reinhardt, Freddy Green; Some modern influences include Caravan Palace electro-swing, Squirrel Nut Zippers, Tom Waits, The New Orleans Nightengales (a union of female vocalists in New Orleans)

Did you start out playing for swing dancers or was that something that happened later?

We started off playing on the street and occasionally dancers would stop and swing. It took a couple years, but playing for swing dancers has always been something we wanted to do.

What kind of venues do you play at?

Hotels, bars, restaurants, the street; speakeasy style lounges have been popping up more recently, we very much enjoy that atmosphere.

What’s different about playing for dancers vs. other audiences?

The interaction between the dancers and the band makes the experience elating. We can't get enough of folks who know the era of music and it makes them jive. Plus, we love watching the moves and dance solos. All the feet help us keep in time.

What was one of the worst gigs you ever had?

We opened up for a band we like, although they play a different style of music. Due to some technical difficulties, we sounded terrible. We did no justice to jazz in a room full of bluegrass fans.

Who has been your best audience?

The swing dancers that come to our gig every Saturday beneath the Boulderado!

What do you do when you’re not playing music?

Hiking the mountains behind our cabin, making artwork of all kinds, farming fruits and vegetables, cooking & baking; We are both learning to fire dance and other wacky skills so we can start our dream circus!

Do you dance?

When we try, we look like two wet noodles ready to party.