Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Decemberists to headline two-day music festival at Big Sky Brewing Co. Amphitheater in August

Posted By on Wed, Mar 22, 2017 at 12:15 PM

The Decemberists
  • The Decemberists

Big Sky Brewing Company Amphitheater just announced the inaugural Travelers' Rest, a two-day festival scheduled for Sat., Aug. 12, and Sun., Aug. 13, featuring the Decemberists, plus Belle and Sebastian, The Head and the Heart, Sylvan Esso, Shakey Graves, Charles Bradley and his Extraordinaires, Real Estate and Julien Baker. Big Sky Brewing says more artists will be announced later in the spring.

Decemberists' frontman Colin Meloy is spearheading the festival. He grew up in Helena, went to school at the University of Montana, and spent part of his college years playing music in a band called Tarkio that frequented the legendary Missoula venue Jay's Upstairs.

“Growing up, it drove me crazy how many national touring bands skipped Montana altogether," Meloy says in the Big Sky press release. "I'm glad we can do our small part to bring more music to the area."

The Decemberists plan to headline both nights, playing two distinct sets. The band is donating $1 from every ticket sold to ACLU Montana.

Weekend passes go on sale this Friday, March 24, at 10 a.m. at for $79.50. A VIP weekend pass option is also available for $149.50. Visit for more info.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Photos from Monday night's Old 97's show at the Top Hat

Posted By on Tue, Mar 21, 2017 at 4:07 PM


A tribute to cantankerous, flawed, rock and roll genius Chuck Berry

Posted By on Tue, Mar 21, 2017 at 11:11 AM

Chuck Berry
  • Chuck Berry

Chuck Berry didn’t invent rock and roll any more than any one person invented the electric guitar. He was simply the perfect conduit through which it flowed, and that current shot through me at an early age. It’s almost as if rock and roll was waiting for him to show up. He was young (although not as young as he claimed), a good-looking showman who played guitar and sang his own songs. The crushing poverty and racism he’d suffered in the South had him eager to duck-walk his way out of there. He synthesized blues riffs, country rhythms and guitar licks copped from guitarists like Muddy Waters, Charlie Christian and T-Bone Walker into a new style, an unrelenting rhythmic framework to carry his evocative lyrics about cars, girls, school and work. He took over pianist Johnnie Johnson’s band in St. Louis and spent the next 60 years thrilling crowds and bending people to his will through intimidation, arm-twisting, capricious decisions and erratic behavior. But the man’s early music was powerful enough to help us overlook his sometimes abhorrent behavior later in life.

Chuck died Saturday at age 90, and social media buzzed with tributes and memories of his concerts. Celebrities like Bruce Springsteen, who’d once played in one of Chuck’s backup bands, paid his respects. I filled the house with his music and drank a toast to the true king. But Monday morning, there wasn’t a peep on the morning TV news shows about his death. Last year, when we lost Bowie, Prince, George Michael and Glenn Frey, the media paid proper attention. Without Chuck Berry, those artists might not have had careers at all.

The very term rock and roll is synonymous with Chuck Berry, but for all the influence he had, and all the adoration he received from fellow musicians and the screaming throngs at his concerts, the man never really received his due. The greatest indignity suffered by Chuck Berry was not the lawsuit filed in 2000 by Johnson, who helped him write many of his seminal hits and later demanded a big chunk of Chuck’s fortune (the suit was dismissed). It wasn’t even the robber’s roost of promoters, managers and record company execs who ripped him off early on, causing an obsession with money for the rest of his career. No, the biggest slap in the face to the man who is widely regarded as the father of rock and roll is the fact that his only No. 1 record came in 1972, a salacious piece of novelty schlock titled “My Ding-A-Ling.” It wasn't even his song. He’d copped it from a kids’ song and replaced the lyrics with double entendre jokes about his pecker. With all the brilliant hits he’d released, from “You Never Can Tell” to “Rock and Roll Music,” this was the only one that topped the charts. That had to stick in his craw.

But that’s a typical twist from a decidedly non-typical American life. If you know his story, you know he beat some damn long odds to fight his way to the top of the heap. His infamous touring method is widely known. He wrote very specific contracts and held promoters and club owners to every single detail, or else he’d refuse to play. If they failed to supply a pair of Fender Dual Showman amps, for instance, no dice. He didn’t travel with his own band, always playing with a local backing group. These musicians would ask the man which songs he planned on playing, and he’d turn to them and say, “Chuck Berry songs!” He flew alone with his guitar, rented a Cadillac to drive to gigs, and always got paid in cash before the first downbeat.

I got to see him in Seattle in the late 1980s, on a double bill with Jerry Lee Lewis. Jerry Lee opened, and was a huge disappointment. He looked old, seemed cranky like he’d missed his afternoon nap, and showed none of the fire of The Killer who used to kick over benches and set pianos ablaze. Then Chuck took the stage and announced his presence with authority. He delivered his standard show (45 minutes, including exactly one duck walk) and the place went nuts. At one point he even invited requests. We all sang his songs back to him, and the thrill was almost unbearable. A few days after the concert I bought my first real electric guitar, a cherry red Lyle copy of the Gibson ES-335 Chuck has played for most of his career. I’ve been a hollow-body man ever since.

It wasn’t just his double-stop guitar style that grabbed me. His lyricism is a form of poetry I’ve always aspired to. His eye for detail and economy of language become razor sharp observations that paint a vivid picture. In “Nadine,” for example, the girl he’s chasing doesn’t just get in her car—he sees her “walking toward a coffee-colored Cadillac.” His wordplay, fondness for alliteration and sometimes outrageous rhymes infiltrated my own style early on. The way he tended to place one syllable per beat is a technique that drives the way I write to this day.

He was revered by the Beatles, adored by the Stones, and respected by most of the great rockers who’ve come up since the early 1960s. If you’re an electric guitar player of any stripe, you owe some debt of gratitude to this cantankerous, unpredictable genius. The fraternity of rock’s original architects is shrinking, with only Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard still kicking. But Chuck was the king of them all. With his death, a door closes on an era, the first epoch of rock and roll. Bye bye, Johnny. Johnny B. Goode.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Photos from last night's Elton John show at the Adams Center

Posted By on Thu, Mar 9, 2017 at 12:48 PM


Monday, February 27, 2017

Ween announced as the first act to play the new KettleHouse Amphitheater in July

Posted By on Mon, Feb 27, 2017 at 12:10 PM

Ween in the old days.
  • Ween in the old days.
In December, Missoula-based promotions company Logjam Presents announced it would partner with KettleHouse Brewing to open a 4,000-capacity amphitheater on the banks of the Blackfoot River in Bonner. Today, Logjam confirmed the first act for the music venue: experimental rock, soul, country, punk, funk and prog duo Ween will hit the stage on July 16.

Ween has been a band since 1984, and has released a slew of weird albums—Chocolate and Cheese, The Mollusk, 12 Golden Country Greats and Pure Guava being some of the most popular—each of which dabbles in a variety of genres. Ween's not everyone's cup of tea, but the duo has long been known for its diverse listenership, from hippies to punk rockers, so it was a downer for a lot of people when the band stopped playing together between 2011 and 2015. In an interview with Rolling Stone, and on their Facebook pages, Aaron Freeman and Mickey Melchiondo, aka, Gene and Dean Ween, gave a few reasons for the breakup, including a fight about some demo releases, subsequent hurt feelings and Freeman's need for sobriety. In a 2012 interview with MTV, though, Melchiondo said what a lot of fans were probably thinking at the time: "The idea of quitting is just laughable. This isn’t something you can quit. This is a life sentence."

Last year, Freeman and Melchiondo proved Ween really wasn't dead when it played a few reunion shows and several festivals and released a live 25th anniversary edition of its debut album, GodWeenSatan. This year, a newly announced tour schedule indicates the band is back for good, and Missoula is in the thick of its revival.

Tickets go on sale Friday, March 3, 2017, at 10 a.m. and will be available at The Top Hat, online or by phone at 877-987-6487.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Palace Lounge to close as a live music venue

Posted By on Thu, Jan 5, 2017 at 10:38 AM

Missoula band Tiny Plastic Stars playing the Palace in September 2016. - PHOTO BY AMY DONOVAN
  • photo by Amy Donovan
  • Missoula band Tiny Plastic Stars playing the Palace in September 2016.

The Palace Lounge will close its doors as a live music venue after Sat., Feb. 25, according to a press release from Scott MacIntyre, owner of the four-bar complex that includes Palace, Badlander, Golden Rose and Savoy.

"Given the competitive demands of a live music venue in Missoula, the owners of The Palace have decided to switch directions of the venue to better diversify their businesses and focus more on the music scene in the Badlander," MacIntyre wrote.

The basement bar is slated to reopen on March 17 as a billiard room called Three on the Side, a reference to a difficult billiards shot. That opening will coincide with the 10th anniversary of the complex. According to the release, the space will host several pool tables, games, television, seating and a full bar. The final live show at the Palace on Feb. 25 will also be the final Rock Lotto (Rock Lotto V: The Final Countdown), an annual event where musicians throw their names into a hat and are randomly placed in bands, with which they play for one night only.

The Palace has been home to the independent rock scene, and is one of just a couple of venues in town that cater to the DIY scene. The basement space has been a dive bar and live-show venue since at least the late-1980s, when it was called the DownUnder. It later became Club X and then Trendz. Over the years the space has hosted several artists who later became big, including the Offspring, Red Fang and Reggie Watts.

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