Summit Right Brain: Daniel “Moose” Bednarski is a singer/songwriter from Breckenridge
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Daniel Bednarski, better known by locals as “Moose,” has played with several different musical groups throughout his 31 years in the county. Those around in the late-’80s might remember the harmonica player’s frequent gigs at Shamus O’Toole’s in Breckenridge with the band Buckwheat Groats, even opening for Little Feat. Or later, for his work with a band called Soul Biscuits, where he played keyboard and harmonica, putting out their two hits, “Big Underwear” and “Zima Zucks.”
One of his favorite projects from around 10 years ago, Raised on Rhubarb, brought him back to his bluegrass roots. He picked up the accordion for this project and also began singing and writing more as he grew musically.
“I always wanted to sing; I was really shy,” he recalls. “The whole idea of singing in front of people and putting yourself out there on a stage is really naked — that mic stand is not very big to hide behind.”
It’s not lost on him that the names of each of these former bands had some sort of food element.
“We were hungry,” he laughs. “One little tip — if you’re at a wedding and there’s a big spread, a buffet, never get behind the band because it’s going to be cleared out.”
Starting with the harmonica many moons ago, over the years, Moose picked up the keyboard, accordion and, recently, the guitar. For the last six years, he has played with Summit County band The Pine Beatles, alongside other longtime locals, and has also been pursuing his solo work and songwriting.
He has the boisterous personality of an entertainer, with stories and jokes that could put just about anyone at ease. Meeting with the musician for the first time, his friendly, easy-going nature is like sitting down with an old friend that you just haven’t seen in awhile. He loves stories and isn’t afraid to tell them — in his songs, his fictional writings and in his everyday life. He is currently working on a novel and is even more passionate about his songwriting. He’d love to see his songs recorded and sold in the future.
“I’m ignorant enough to think that my stuff is pretty good,” he said.
Moose can be seen playing with The Pine Beatles and will have some shows on the books locally this summer.
Summit Daily News: Describe your original music to someone who has never heard it before.
Moose: I like stories; you have to stay with a story. I think the story is important, and it’s the basic building block of all songs. But I also try to keep things that are somewhat melodic and memorable. I really love when people start singing along to choruses. … I really want to try and get songs and try and stay in people’s mind a little bit.
As far as the sonic, the sound part of it, I try to borrow rhythms from everything — some reggae, some folk, a little bit of blues and … I try and fit these stories into different rhythms.
SDN: How long have you lived in Summit, and why did you move here?
Moose: Thirty plus years, going on 31. Loved to ski, loved the mountains. I always wanted to live “in” the mountains and not “near” the mountains. I lived in Estes Park for a couple years, skied and guided there. … And Vermont before that. I love the mountains.
SDN: So how did you pick these specific mountains?
Moose: We were in our early 20s, there are no real decisions. We just loaded up the van and broke down out on Highway 9, and here we were.
SDN: How did you first get into playing music?
Moose: My dad, all he ever wanted to be was a cowboy. He would sing all these great cowboy songs to us when we were little kids. … At the time, we were like, “Dad, no more!” but we loved it, loved it, loved it, and I think that kind of started it. But I’ve always loved music, all through high school I loved music, and I would go see some shows, and, after that, I was probably about 20, I picked up a harmonica and just started playing. One thing led to another, and I was kind of amazed.
SDN: Do you feel like you have an agenda with your songwriting?
Moose: At some point, and I’m still learning the craft, but, at some point, I would love to save the world. The politicians aren’t going to save the world, I don’t think the military is going to save the world. I’m not sure the Pope is going to save the world. I think the poets might help. Maybe everyone is going to have to pitch in, and we are going to have to save the world ourselves. Lord knows the world needs saving. … I think any good songwriter has to have at some level the heart of a poet. Whether it’s environmental … either relationships or just the idea of living amongst other people and making it work, whatever that entails, I think are incredibly important things that can be reached. … Maybe that’s always been the responsibility … of the poet. Putting words out there that people can take home and digest and think about. …
It’s a little arrogant to say that music inspires, but I think it does inspire. It can. Really well-written songs can totally inspire, and I think that’s one of the gifts of writing songs.
SDN: So what inspires you when it comes to creating music?
Moose: No. 1 stories, and emotions — trying to find a story that is memorable to people, that they remember. … The reason why they remember is because it touches something in them, it’s a part of their life. That’s what great songs are about. Great songs illuminate, they touch a certain part of people’s lives. That’s what great literature does, that’s what great art does. People look at it, they recognize it and they identify with it. It’s not easy to do, but it’s a great goal. It’s inspiring to try and do that, to try and create stories and lines and choruses that people remember and that people relate to.
SDN: What advice would you give to other aspiring musicians?
Moose: Don’t do it. What are you crazy? You’ll never make a living, you’ll disappoint your grandparents and you will provide competition to that the rest of us don’t need. I’m kidding — one word. Love. Have it. If you don’t love it, find something else that you love.
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