Danielle Ate the Sandwich has never been to Pittsburgh. Her appearance tonight at Coffee Buddha on the border of West View marks her local debut.
But thanks to the Internet and the videos she's posted on YouTube, she should have some fans waiting to welcome her.
"I've always had a few fans from Pittsburgh, and it's right on the way to Philadelphia," she said on her cell phone this afternoon while driving to the gig. "When people ask me to come and play in their town, I don't take that lightly. I convince myself to play there, even if it is out of the way."
Danielle Ate the Sandwich is Danielle Anderson, a 26-year-old singer-songwriter from Colorado, now living in Minnesota. Her music is a folk-indie blend, played on acoustic guitar and ukulele. (Not at the same time.)
"I describe myself as playing pretty straightforward folk music," she said. "But I think because I'm young and kind of bizarre, for older folk fans it's good to throw in the 'indie' label. But I don't think my music is that weird. It's guitar music, without any effects. It's kind of modern. I try to tell stories about my life and other people's lives.
"A common misconception about me is that I write funny songs or that they're fun. I disagree. I think they're uncomfortably honest and sad. In-depth explorations into real life and what we're going through. Small things and bigger things.
"When I'm compared to other young musicians, I feel very simple and very folky. And when I'm compared with older folk singers, I feel a little indie. But 'indie' can sometimes be intimidating. I'm uncomfortable with labels. I guess I'm 'a folk artist of this generation.' Does that make sense?"
Yeah, that makes sense. The name "Danielle Ate the Sandwich," however, I'm not so sure about.
"I think it was a desperate attempt to not be another singer-songwriter with just a first and last name," she said, already weary of answering the question in every interview she ever does. "I think my name is kind of boring. It doesn't really have any 'written in lights' potential.
"I was playing music with some college friends and everybody had a name for themselves. The sandwich thing just came to me. I thought it would make a great marketing thing visually. 'What am I gonna put on a T-shirt?' Well, I put pictures of sandwiches on things. It came to me, as did other things, but I kept coming back to it and it stuck."
Danielle Anderson was a seamstress, working in an alteration shop until five years ago. Danielle Ate the Sandwich is traveling the country alone, playing her music.
"Recently I've either gotten smart or gotten stupid, but I've decided to be completely independent," she said. "The older I get and the more I do it, the more I think I can handle it myself.
"I just bought lotion and conditioner for my hair. I'm making sure that I'm clean and that my skin is soft. I want to present the best image that Danielle Ate the Sandwich can have."
Which brings her to Coffee Buddha at 964 Perry Highway tonight at 7.
"I did a Google search," she said, explaining how the appearance came to be. "I look for nice, friendly places that aren't pretentious or intimidating that are willing to let me play music in the corner.
"The people at Coffee Buddha have been very encouraging and enthusiastic, which is a lot more than I get sometimes when I play certain places."
Coffee Buddha sounds perfect for her. Opened 15 months ago by West View native Michael Witherel, it's an old house where people can make themselves comfortable.
"We really offer something different," said Mr. Witherel, 27, who earned his master's in business from Robert Morris University. "We're like a true coffee house, versus a typical cafeteria-style, cramped coffee shop. It's very relaxing with upstairs seating and private rooms you can go into and study. We do specialty high-quality drinks without the pretentious, snobby attitude. It's really just a great hangout place.
"Once you're there once, you kind of get a feel for what's going on. We have a great recurring cast of characters. It's kind of like 'Cheers' meets 'Twin Peaks.'"
Danielle Ate the Sandwich is looking forward to it.
"My goal is to play for nice people. And hopefully make some money," she said. "I'm not looking to get rich. I'm looking for enough money to pay my tolls and a couple tanks of gas. And not lose money. That's my goal.
"When I do play these shows, at least a couple people in the audience have heard of me and know my songs, which is cool. It's definitely something I never expected. Those people are great, but I need new people to come. That's kind of what keeps me going. That I came to this town and made a difference to someone. That makes it worth it."
Get a preview of tonight's event!
Danielle Ate the Sandwich: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JGIW1OPdsN0music - neigh_north
If you have a suggestion for something to do some evening, let us know about it and we'll see if we can get some of our friends to join you. Contact Dan Majors at email@example.com or 412-263-1456. This story originally appeared in The Pittsburgh Press. To log in or subscribe, go to: http://press.post-gazette.com/