Members of the Jackson band Inland Isle sing the praises of Jackson Hole and recommend things to do, places to eat, and Mountain West music to play.
Pat Chadwick and Dusty Nichols might not be blood brothers, but they’re definitely musical brothers. Now part of the Jackson-based folk-rock band Inland Isle, the two met after moving to Wyoming from Massachusetts.
Chadwick and Nichols had individually gotten good press for their songwriting in prior bands and had both made their respective moves from Back East to Out West.
“We formed the band in the spring of 2019, but Dusty and I moved to Jackson and met long before that,” Chadwick says. “We’d known each other a while and had been playing in similar circles before inevitably starting Inland Isle.”
The album artwork is a rubbing of mountain pine beetle marks in tree bark by Jackson/London artist Mark Dunstan. “Pine beetles are killing trees in the Mountain West and a harbinger of climate change, so they fit pretty well in our themes of change on the album,” Pat Chadwick says.
Their new eight-song debut record, Time Has Changed Us, was recorded in a cabin in Bridger Canyon, Montana, with engineering and production by Fleming and mastering by Brian Lucey (The Black Keys, The Shins).
“As a band, we’ve probably invested the equivalent of a down payment on a good home in music equipment, and we lugged it all to Montana to create something we’re really proud of. Now we need help giving it a fair shot to be heard,” Chadwick wrote on the band’s Kickstarter page.
With its irresistible harmonies, nice hooks, and smart lyrics about relationships, community, and livelihoods, this music deserves to be heard well beyond the Tetons that inspired it.
We talked with the guys about Jackson, the Tetons, and a playlist that gets you in a Mountain West frame of mind.
Pat Chadwick, singer-songwriter and guitarist, Inland Isle
The Tetons and their dramatic rise from our wild, open valley are unlike anything I’ve seen. The friends I’ve met in Jackson Hole tend to operate on a different wavelength, and I could finally sleep at night after moving here. On any given day, you can explore one of two national parks, get “lost” in the Gros Ventre Wilderness, or float the Snake River.
Of course, I’m not the only one who fell in love with the place, and housing costs have skyrocketed with the demand in recent years. We’ve seen friends forced to leave, and it’s hard for most people to gain a footing now. Our song “Among the Pines” expresses that.
Activity rec: Hike Josie’s Ridge. Get your bearings with a short, but sometimes steep, day hike from town that grants an awesome view of all of Jackson Hole.
Food rec: Dinner at Bin22. Grab a Spanish red from their wine shop (no corkage fee) and enjoy their wild-mushroom mozzarella and other small plates.
Leif Routman, bassist and composer, Inland Isle
The expanse of the Tetons translates well to sound — it’s impossible to live in the shadow of such a powerful landscape and not be moved. We have no shortage of adventures to inspire a song, whether it’s crawling about the high country like humble ants, walking the depths of the canyons, or scaling the warm summer rock.
Down in the valley, we’re a motley collection of fortune seekers (in many forms) trying to balance the ups and downs of our journey. Our song “Analise” tells the story of one woman’s struggle with that.
Activity rec: Sunrise at the Snake River Overlook. Watch the light ascend the Teton Mountain Range as the sun rises across the valley.
Food rec: Slow Food in the Tetons People’s Market. Stock up on local fare every Wednesday evening in the summer. (There’s usually live local music as well.)
Dusty Nichols, songwriter and lead guitarist, Inland Isle
Playing music professionally is a tough life in a lot of other places — but not so in Jackson Hole. Booking gigs, playing original songs, and making a living at it is all possible with the tourism economy.
At the same time, mountain-town living can make you feel lazy, and there’s always that thought in the back of your head that there’s more excitement out there somewhere else. Our song “Biggest Fish” playfully illustrates that “big fish in a small pond” dilemma.
Activity rec: Soak at Astoria Hot Springs Park. The brand-new, reservation-only hot springs park is beautifully situated in Snake River Canyon south of Jackson. (There are also hot springs on public land nearby, but you’ll have to ask a local.)
Food rec: Happy hour at Local. Enjoy the best wings in town or a locally sourced burger with some half-off drinks from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Shawn Fleming, drummer and producer, Inland Isle
The natural surroundings of Jackson can help you get into a different mindset. Something really special happens when you get out of your element and just have a crazy focus on your hobby or work.
We wanted a similar focus while making our record, so we rented a cabin a few hours away up Bridger Canyon in Montana. Everything — from the cabin’s vaulted ceiling to the fly infestation to the first snow of the season — influenced the sound in one way or another.
Food rec: Lunch at Thai Plate. Their daily $10 lunch special is perhaps the best food deal in town, whether you go with noodles or curry.
Find out more about Inland Isle, including streaming/purchase options for Time Has Changed Us, here.
Photography: (All images) courtesy Lindley Rust, (Album art) Mark Morgan Dunstan.