By Hap Fry
Sometimes all you can do is rely on your dreams when you grow up in a tiny little town like Encampment, Wyoming.
So relying on those dreams was what she did, and Alysia Kraft’s dreams appeared to have been as big as that Wyoming sky that surrounded her.
Those dreams helped her land a basketball scholarship to the University of Wyoming.
They also helped bring her into Ann’s Pawn in Laramie where she purchased a half-sized parlor guitar after giving up the sport she loved to play after her sophomore year.
“In a way, when you give up something that you’ve worked so hard at your whole life, it’s like this death in your life,” Kraft said. “I was super- depressed – just didn’t really know what to with myself.
“I definitely felt like I had to really do some- thing, but something different. It just happened that ‘that guitar’ fell in my hands at exactly the perfect time. When I started playing songs and live in front of people, I was like: this is it. This is what I should be doing.”
In essence, Kraft made an exchange at Ann’s Pawn: one life-changing decision for one life- altering one.
Fast forward a few years later and Kraft notonly is still doing exactly what she “should be doing,” she’s excelling at it.
As the frontwoman for her country and alternative rock charged creation The Patti Fiasco, Kraft is less than one year removed from literally being the cover girl for the nationally known Bohemian Nights at New West Fest and from also leading her group into Austin, Texas for the inter- nationally-renowned SXSW festival. Talk about a 2012 done proper.
By any measure, Kraft has come a long way from those Wednesday night open-mic sessions at Coal Creek Coffee in Laramie back in 2008.
“I used to get so nervous before those,” she said in between sips out of a Pabst Blue Ribbon can after a recent Sunday afternoon rehearsal in Fort Collins. “But as soon as soon as I started playing with a band, I had no nerves. I’d just get real excited.”
“Part of that is I somehow fell into this group of musicians who were extremely talented and experienced, and who had enormous amount of patience with me. I mean, I had only played guitar for six months and now I’m playing in a band.”
“This level of naivety that I have kind of makes everything OK because I never quite realize how big the stakes are.”
As their popularity continues to rise, the stakes are getting bigger for The Patti Fiasco. The group was named after one of Kraft’s quirky and sometimes crazy aunts; the unconventional five-piece group is also comprised of Ansel Foxley (dobro, vocals), Dee Tyler (electric guitar, vocals), Scott Clabby (drums, vocals), Nile Mischke (bass) and Adam Bender (sound engineer).
The group is set to release their second album sometime this spring. Unlike their 2011 release “The Patti Fiasco,” the yet-to-be titled new album, which will feature between 8-12 tracks, will take on a somewhat different tone.
“We sort of became this country band kind out of necessity, but I never felt in my heart that we were truly a country band,” Kraft said. “Wyoming roots definitely shaped our music, particularly because we got started playing in Wyoming bars. It’s a loud, rowdy environment and a lot of our sound was just shaped upon making yourself heard in that environment – just getting people to pay attention and, to a certain extent, catering to what you think people want to hear in that environment.”
“I think this new album will open a lot of doors for us as a band because it is a lot more different, and the musical arrangements are more interesting and more complex. It’s increasingly narrative.”
One of the songs Kraft said will be on the al- bum is about her childhood babysitter’s obsession with Elvis. Another track will feature an all-out dobro barrage from Foxley.
Those songs and many others will be on dis- play Saint Patrick’s Day when the now Fort Collins- based group will double dip with a gig in Denver at the Larimer Lounge before heading back locally to play the Swing Station in Laporte that night.
“This band sort of plays what it wants,” Tyler said. “We’ve never really been too concerned about sticking to one genre. What’s so great about this band is it just kind of came into being. There’s nothing forced about it. We’ve been very lucky to have a lot of opportunities, but we’ve been able to take advantage of them.”
Just how far The Patti Fiasco can go remains to be seen. But the group has plenty of mojo going for it right now – drive, dynamics, sound and Kraft’s small-town dreams in particular.
“I grew up in a painfully small town, which I do have a lot of reverence for and still really love,” Kraft said. “It definitely helped shape a lot of who I am and how I think of myself in the grander scheme.”
Watch them perform at the Swing Station in Laporte on March 17 at 7pm.