Bakersfield is wealthy with Celtic music. Founding member and multi-instrumentalist Brenda Hunter said she usually answers the question of, “How does a Celtic band start up in Bakersfield?” with, “How can there not be one?”
“Banshees are screaming, ominous spirits so we thought by putting her in a kitchen that would make her more tame,” Hunter said.
Hunter, who functions primarily as Banshee in the Kitchen’s dulcimer player, formed Banshee in the Kitchen with the help of Jill Egland and former member Mary Tulin as a spinoff from another Celtic music group. Now Kat Edmonson and Kristen Wilbur make up the other half of Banshee in the Kitchen as the guitarist and bassist, respectively.
The dulcimer, a trapezoidal, hammered instrument, isn’t inherent to traditional Celtic music, however, Hunter said its range of sounds is.
Banshee in the Kitchen has been around since 2003 and Hunter said they don’t plan on living the kitchen any time soon.
With Wilbur’s addition, the band has more foundation. Hunter said the banshees are gravitating more toward songwriting than instrumental pieces these days.
“One of our favorite thing to do is embed Irish and Scottish traditional songs and spice it up,” Hunter said. “We like arranging and putting our own twist on it.”
The banshees don’t have any plans for retirement, releasing their seventh album sometime this year. Despite Edmonson and Wilbur living in the Kern River Valley area, Hunter and Egland make time to get the band together and jam.
“We all feel really fortunate to play music together,” Hunter said. “My bandmates are my friends and it brings us a lot of joy to play together.”