It used to be that you could find Kaylen Alan Krebsbach busking in a downtown doorway on Saturday morning, while people ambled between farmers markets on Higgins Avenue. She was just out of high school and playing in a band called Baby & Bukowski with another musician, Mari Wolverton. Their love for Simon and Garfunkel was obvious—they'd often cover "Cecilia" and "Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard." They were also playing originals from their then-new 2012 album, We Won't Go Home Until Morning, which showcased their startlingly sharp songwriting talents.
The band was just creating a buzz in Missoula's music scene when they decided to move to Portland, and for those of us who had fallen for their music, it felt like a too-brief affair. Even after they moved back to Missoula a year later, it was rare to hear them play.
"We had slowly stopped doing music," Krebsbach says. "We were both trying to figure out what we wanted to do."
That's what makes Krebsbach's recent return to Missoula stages all the more sweet. For the past year, she's played a handful of solo shows, and last month she debuted her new band, Wilma Laverne Miner. It features Rob Cave on bass, Nick Hawksley on guitar and Tyler Duncan on drums. They'll play their second show this weekend, at the fourth-annual summer music festival called Camp Daze.
Krebsbach named the band after her grandmother on her dad's side, a woman she never got to know but felt a connection with anyway. The songs are influenced by Krebsbach's childhood listening to her dad's Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash and Hank Williams records.
"My dad grew up in Havre and then kind of all over the place," she says. "Most of my memories of my childhood are of that music, which comes from my dad's side of the family, and so I tried to bring in aspects of that."
- photo courtesy Mark Cluney
- Singer-songwriter Kaylen Krebsbach recently started Wilma Laverne Miner, a band named after her grandmother.
During the five years between Baby & Bukowski's prime and the birth of Wilma Lavern Miner, Krebsbach was writing songs. She was also touring, but not on her own project. After her stint in Portland, she hit the road with spoken word artist Buddy Wakefield, backing him up on his tour. While working with Wakefield, she met Andrea Gibson, a popular queer poet for whom she ended up working as a tour manager and serving as an onstage instrumentalist during shows. When she returned to Missoula from that tour two years ago, she wasn't sure if she should continue pursuing music.
"I was feeling really frustrated," she says. "I took a nap, and when I woke up Andrea was calling me, asking me if I wanted to go on tour with her opening for Gregory Alan Isakov. And I was like, 'Yes. This is divine intervention.'"
On that tour, she played as Andrea's instrumentalist to sold-out shows in Minneapolis, Chicago and Asheville. The experience renewed her interest in songwriting. In 2016, after Prince died, Google contacted Krebsbach to ask if the company could use a clip from a video in which she covers "Nothing Compares 2 U." In March she went on tour to South by Southwest with Philadelphia's Kississippi; she'd met the band in Missoula at a house show, and they had asked her to play with them.
"I've been so lucky and in the right place at the right time and able to see how things are done on tour and in the music [world]," she says. "I don't take it for granted at all."
Money from the Google advertisement helped nudge Krebsbach back into playing her own songs in Missoula. For five years she's been leaving and coming back, living out of boxes and on her mother's couch. Wilma Laverne Miner comes at a time when Krebsbach says she's starting to feel more rooted in her hometown. And the music seems to speak to that rootedness.
For their first performance, at a house show attended mostly by friends, band members wore all black and glitter while Krebsbach wore a 1950s-style country outfit.
"The music—if you listen to it, it's really not all that country," Krebsbach says. "As it goes on, I'm sure it'll evolve into country music more. When people ask me to describe it, the closest comparison I can give is if Patsy Cline had an emo phase and she was listening to Paramore a lot. But aspects of Baby & Bukowski definitely shine through, lyrically and in the rhythms. It's music that, in all ways, goes back to where I came from."
Wilma Laverne Miner plays the Union Ballroom Thu., July 13, at 9:30 PM.
In its fourth year, Camp Daze is doing something a little radical. The three-day music festival is forgoing the bar scene and presenting all of its live music in all-ages, non-alcoholic spaces. If you've been following the activities of Camp Daze promoters, this move will come as no surprise. Nicholas Hawksley, Foster Caffrey and Kale Huseby have all been pushing for live shows that are focused squarely on music appreciation, not getting wasted, and that are open to young listeners. The Indy recently wrote about the Camp Daze founders partnering with other DIY-style promoters in town to start the Basement Fund, a Patreon-funded organization hosted in the Zootown Arts Community Center basement. The formation of the Basement Fund has led to a rise in underground shows, even as high-profile concerts at the Wilma, Top Hat and two new amphitheaters continue to pull in big audiences.
For Camp Daze, the Union Ballroom, Betty's Divine, Free Cycles, ZACC Below and the Northside Block Party (on First Street) showcase the kind of underground, sleeper acts that sometimes pass through Missoula without much notice. With 40 bands on deck to play the festival, it's hard to know where to start. But here are four groups you don't want to miss.
Great Grandpa started in Seattle in 2014, but the band could have been plucked from the early 1990s. Their grungy pop hooks have already compelled critics to compare them to a female-fronted Weezer or Built to Spill, and it's hard to break away from that comparison. No matter. They're less derivative of those groups than evocative of an era. The band does the sound right—tight and dynamic, shiny and fuzzy—without feeling dated. The genre of indie rock—possibly the worst term ever has been drowning in boringly mediocre acts for more than a decade. Great Grandpa revisits some of the flair and bite that other acts have stripped away in favor of melancholy synths and safe lyrics.
At Free Cycles Fri., July 14, at 9 PM.
- photo courtesy Buggy Vigor
- Great Grandpa
A lot of people already know Ann Szalda-Petree as a talented singer-songwriter and radio host, both for Missoula Community Radio and for the very funny "The Ann and Teresa and Ann Show" on KBGA. It's no wonder her daughter Erin has a similar ear and a voice that breaks your heart a little when she sings about leaving home and losing sleep, as she does in two tracks on her Soundcloud page. Szalda-Petree is the youngest artist playing Camp Daze, but her songwriting makes it seem like she's been doing it for decades.
At Betty's Divine Fri., July 14, at 6 PM.
Tyson Ballew was a longtime promoter and musician in Missoula until he moved to Bellingham, Wash., a few years ago. He was known for founding the music festival Tummy Fest, which he has continued producing in Washington, and for anti-folk solo acts like Old Shoes. Cat Positive started in Missoula, and it's good to see the band's return. Ballew knows how to write songs that balance political pop-punk and confessional anthem. It's music that doesn't ever feel contrived, and that sometimes seems like it might be about to bust open and topple over with emotion, which is never a bad thing in live music.
At the Northside Block Party Sat., July 15, at 9 PM.
- photo courtesy Allyce Andrew
- Mommy Long Legs
Mommy Long Legs
Several bands from previous Camp Daze festivals are returning, and there's none more exciting than Mommy Long Legs. The Seattle band is strutting and sassy and good at delivering danceable songs with sardonic humor. There are a lot of bands at Camp Daze that will put you in a mellow dream-state. Mommy Long Legs is not one of them. Mommy Long Legs will make you want to get rowdy and tear down the walls—don't do that, though—which is sometimes just what a listener needs.
At the Union Ballroom Sat., July 15, at 10:30 PM.
Visit campdazemusic.com for full schedule and ticket info.