The story of how South for Winter became a band could be a scene from a romantic movie.
It starts with an unlikely meet-cute in South America.
Dani Cichon sometimes starts telling the story with a question: “You know the movie, ‘Once?’”
If you know of the 2007 film, an image will pop into your head of the movie’s leads infectiously and purely falling in love. She’s from the Czech Republic. He’s from Ireland. They get to know each other by writing songs such as one called “Falling Slowly.”
That’s kind of what happened for Cichon and Nick Stone. She’s from Colorado Springs. He’s from New Zealand.
In 2014, they came together after signing up for the same two-week volunteer trip in Peru. They first locked eyes on each other — and the guitars they had each brought along — at the airport in Cusco.
Then, “we just hit it off.”
In between long days of building greenhouses, the two found time to hang out on a rooftop and jam.
They knew the song “Falling Slowly,” so that’s the first song they sang together. It features these heartwarming lyrics: “I don’t know you, but I want you all the more for that.”
Cichon remembers thinking, “OK, our voices blend really well together. There’s something really magical here.”
As if to prove that thought, they wrote a song together on the spot. Years later, that song, “Fallen Seeds,” would end up being their first single as a musical group.
First, though, Cichon and Stone had to lay down roots as a couple. After those whirlwind two weeks, there were years of long-distance dating as Stone returned to New Zealand and Cichon finished up at Belmont University in Nashville, where she studied nursing, not music.
By 2017, the couple was finally together in Nashville. And, with the addition of classically trained cellist Alex Stradal, the musicians officially started a band together. And called it South for Winter.
Next came the normal struggles for any relationship. Touring all over the country to get the band’s name out there. In one recent stretch, they visited 17 states and finished two Harry Potter audiobooks.
“None of us are in our early 20s,” Cichon said. “So, we decided really early on that if we wanted to do music, we’d have to work really hard to become a full-time band.”
They still fit in tours or shows around each of their day jobs. Cichon is an intensive care unit nurse. Stone is a bartender. And Stradal is a temp at a dialysis center.
A break from Cichon’s stint as a travel nurse allowed the band to play a gig at the local MeadowGrass Music Festival in May. It was South for Winter’s first show back following the coronavirus pandemic and its biggest show yet in Cichon’s hometown. If you caught the show, you’d know attendees noticeably dug the band’s eclectic folk, blues and jazz sound.
Exposure from that festival slot has opened doors for the band, says Cichon, who hopes to quit her job to pursue music full time by next summer.
South for Winter has two shows in Colorado Springs this weekend. They’ll play Boot Barn Hall’s free live music series, called Sunset Patio Sessions, on Thursday and a benefit show at Stargazers Theatre on Saturday. Plus, they have a house show on Friday and a show Sunday at Rhapsody Bar in Woodland Park.
“It’s really amazing, because we’ve always wanted to have Colorado Springs as a home base,” Cichon said. “Every time we come back, I just get so excited.”
The band travels out of a van they converted into a “tiny home situation” and typically parks in Walmart parking lots or campsites to sleep. Colorado concerts mean they get to stay with Cichon’s parents and spend time with her five siblings.
Being here brings back good memories, like when she started writing songs as a teenager attending St. Mary’s High School. And like when Cichon and Stone got married in April 2019 at The Pinery on the Hill.
Like any romantic-movie couple might, they wrote a song to perform at their wedding. In the chorus, you’ll spy references to a flower found in Colorado and a bird found in New Zealand. And you’ll beautifully hear how their love story is unfolding.
“How the mountain loves the moon, how the asters love to bloom, how the bellbird loves to sing,” the lyrics go. “I love you more than all those things.”