As members of Montana-based bluegrass band the Kitchen Dwellers tour the country, they have plenty of advice for summer travelers bound for their home state.
“The national parks are a must,” says Max Davies, the guitarist of the four-member group that recently released a new album Wise River. “Glacier National Park outside of Whitefish has some of the most beautiful mountains and glacial lakes. The glaciers will soon be gone due to climate change, so we recommend seeing them while they’re still there. The Beartooth Highway is open during the summer months and is a must-drive road that links Deer Lodge to Yellowstone National Park.”
In Montana, spend as much time outdoors as possible, Davies says. “There are plenty of hikes and rivers to enjoy the natural beauty the state offers.”
Davies tells visitors to be aware that Montana has some of the most unpredictable weather in the country.
“Before you know it, you can be stuck on the side of the road in a snowstorm with wind drifts piling high,” he says. “Winter is long and cold. Travel with water, warm clothes and a sleeping bag outside of the summer months.”
The Kitchen Dwellers, who are performing in 10 states this month, met at Montana State University in Bozeman. It’s a special city, Davies says.
“Bozeman has a lot to offer,” he explains. “The rapid growth in town has brought new food and experiences for residents and visitors. For a beer and pizza after a day of skiing or hiking, go to Bridger Brewing or Red Tractor Pizza.”
Davies knows what he loves most about Montana.
“There is an ethos in Montana that your life is what you make it, and people should be free to live and pursue their own dreams and passions,” he says. “Whatever that may mean to you. It’s a rugged place with mountains and valleys where you can spend days on end in the wilderness with your family and friends.”
The Kitchen Dwellers’ new album, Wise River, is named for the river that runs about 30 miles through the southwestern region of the state. The river, a favorite spot for fly fishing, cuts through the mountains and flows into the Big Hole River.
The album’s songs have many ties to Montana, because the pandemic stopped the band’s touring, and band members spent many months composing the songs together in the state.
“For the first time, we were all home for 365 days in a row, which hasn’t happened in 10 years,” mandolinist Shawn Swain says on the band’s website. “We were thinking of the quieter lifestyle encapsulated in the area. That comes through.”
When there’s nothing to do in Montana, says banjoist and lead singer Torrin Daniels, “you look to the outdoors to occupy your mind. We spent a good amount of the past two years outside — hunting, fishing, hiking, camping, skiing — and those realities and inspirations certainly wove their way into our music during that time.”