Friday, September 9, 2016

Original Fest: Looking for a road trip this weekend? For $5 you can go see Ghostface Killah in Butte

Posted By on Fri, Sep 9, 2016 at 1:52 PM

Ghostface Killah
  • Ghostface Killah

In its fourth year, Original Festival is hosting two nights of live music in downtown Butte, America, culminating in a performance by Ghostface Killah. Festival founder and director Matthew Boyle says he connected with Ghostface on Instagram and set up the gig with his booking agent.

"We sent him an offer and gave him a rundown of what we’re looking to do as far as provide an event for people that’s affordable with high quality acts," Boyle says. 

Affordable is kind of an understatement: it's $5 for two nights of music.

Boyle and a few other organizers first got the idea for Original Fest after Butte landed the National Folk Festival in 2008 and hosted a multitude of acts at the two-stage event space called The Original Mine Yard. 

This year's festival features a stage dedicated to Boyle's brother, Casey, and their friend Kyle Burgman, both of whom were killed in a car accident less than a month before last year's festival. Spray-paint artist Trent Curnow, who's gotten statewide recognition for his graffiti on garbage cans and semi-trucks, will create a memorial mural. 

Original Fest has almost doubled its attendance over the last few years as it gains momentum. Last year Chad Stokes of Dispatch headlined, and this year provides even more name recognition with the rapper and former Wu Tang Clan member hitting the stage. (Dude is still making relevant art: He just recently showed up on a new single with underground producer Wax Tailor called "Worldwide.") 

Also on the Original roster: Cave Singers, Jeff Crosby and the Refugees, Sista Otis and No Fancy (of Missoula), among others.

Road trips to Butte never get old—and Ghostface Killah is a pretty good reason to make it happen.

Original Festival runs Friday Sept. 9–Saturday Sept. 10. Visit ogest.org for details. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Reggie Watts show announced for December 17 at the Wilma

Posted By on Tue, Sep 6, 2016 at 11:33 AM

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Seems like we can always count on Reggie Watts to return to Missoula. The Indy first wrote about him back in 2010, but since then, the vocal artist/beatboxer/musician/comedian has graced more big stages and television shows, plus showed up to play surprise sets and after-hours parties in Missoula basements.

The beloved Montana-raised artist will hit the Wilma's stage again, December 17. Pre-sale tickets are available online Wed., Sept. 7, and general tickets go on sale at 10 am Fri., Sept. 9.


Monday, September 5, 2016

Photos from Andrew Bird's Saturday night show at the Wilma

Posted By on Mon, Sep 5, 2016 at 10:34 AM

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Gabriel Kahane opened for Andrew Bird - ©WILLIAM MUÑOZ
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Thursday, September 1, 2016

Q & A: Andrew Bird talks a decade of music, his upcoming show and what he's listening to right now

Posted By on Thu, Sep 1, 2016 at 3:32 PM

Andrew Bird has something for everybody. In the last 10 years the songwriter, classically trained violinist and all around musical genius has been a favorite of fans in almost every genre. This weekend, Bird returns to Missoula on his worldwide tour following the release of the critically acclaimed pop originals album, Are You Serious. In anticipation of Saturday's show, we caught up with him to rehash Missoula memories and talk about his latest album.
PHOTO COURTESY OF ADDIE JUELL
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This year marks a decade since you released your first solo album
Music of Hair. What is the biggest difference between that album and your most recent release Are you Serious?
Andrew Bird: Well, it’s a new band and a new drummer. The drums are the one thing I can’t really do. I can create a bass line but this drummer, Ted Poor, is one of the best drummers in the world. It changes everything. I think there is definitely a different sound to this album because of that. 

Your fall tour stops in big cities and smaller towns like Missoula. How do you approach those shows and which do you prefer?
AB:approach every show differently. I try to make every show as intimate as I possibly can and sonically I try to make the sound fit the room. You have to read your audience. Some of my favorite performances have been in smaller theaters. You know when you’re playing to a horizon full of people, its great, but your voice goes up an octave and you have to account for that, so I think I prefer some of the mid-size venues I’ve played.

What’s your favorite track from Are you Serious?
AB:think right now I like  “Are you Serious.” It was created as a title track, which is not the way I write usually, but it has sort of grown to be one of my favorites to perform. There is a lot of theatrics; it’s like being an actor in a lot of ways. With that song and “Left Handed Kisses” I play both parts on stage and there is a sort of acting out of the narrator and really thinking about how character singing feels.

There has been some discussion about audience etiquette since the remodel of The Wilma, the venue where you'll be playing. Is there anything you notice as a performer or fan about audiences today?
AB: mean, were not really the type of band to [where] the audience hits us and we hit back. I haven’t been to Missoula in a long time but I think my audiences for the most part have really followed us for the last few years. They are always seem to be really present and in the moment. We really haven't had problems with people filming and things. 

What have you been listening to lately? What’s been inspiring you?
AB: I’ve been listening to Herbie Hancock, lots of '70s and psychedelic. Some West African music and some Colombian music. That’s the type of thing moving me right now.

How did you and your opener (for Missoula’s show) Gabriel Kahane get acquainted and what do you hope he brings to the tour?
AB:actually haven’t heard him yet, but I’ve heard a lot of good things. He's been described to me as more classical with more vocal jazz influence. I heard about him from Blake Mills, the guitarist and Tony Berg who I worked with on Are you Serious. and I have heard that he’s just a tremendous talent. 

Anything you want to add? 
AB: I’m excited to come back to Missoula. I think the last time I was there we stayed at some kid’s house who came to the show and we stayed in his parents basement. His parents didn’t know we were there so they were totally surprised when four guys came up the steps in the morning. It was in a subdivision somewhere outside of Missoula. That was a long time ago, that kid’s kids are probably coming to the show now.










Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Long review: Big Business commands its own weather

Posted By on Wed, Aug 31, 2016 at 3:37 PM

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A few weeks ago, I reviewed Big Business's new record
Command Your Weather in the Indy's print edition. Due to space limitations, we ran a short version of this full review. Here's that review in its entirety.
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Los Angeles band Big Business is a galloping rock and roll band that’s pushed the envelope of heavy, noisy and loud music significantly in their roughly 10-year run. While others like Mastodon came on strong and then lost me with later albums, with Big Business, each new release has been an event, and has kept delivering on the high bar they set early on. If I was forced to compare them, it'd be to bands like Karp, the Melvins, Motörhead. It’s gnarly, large music, but it also has audible, dynamic vocals. And, where lazier reviewers will want to throw this genre their way, it isn’t stoner rock or doom at all. It's too fast, normally, and while it's groovy, Big Biz riffs are not really stoney in the way that Sleep's are. 

Anyhow, following Big Business and hearing them change their sound and update as a band has been one of the major highlights of my last 10 years of listening to music. From their slightly-rough-but-still-brutally-excellent recordings of their very first Tour EP —described to me once as "like hearing (heavy 90s Tumwater, WA slayers) Karp practice in your basement!"—to the brilliant Head for the Shallow LP, as hit-loaded a record as you'll find, to the even more massive record Here Come The Waterworks LP, Big Business has a catalog that runs incredibly deep and is worth exploring, regardless of what you typically find yourself listening to.

Command Your Weather has flat-out the heaviest vibe of any record in their career. And that's from a band with no shortage of hefty sounds. It starts with “Last Legs,” which is all drummer Coady Willis playing an eerie percussion instrument called the bells. “Regulars” follows, and is my favorite song on the record, largely because it’s unlike every Big Business song that’s preceded it. It’s excellently repetitive , the bass part is pretty much played all on one string, and will mark a milestone for me as a fan where I remember their output before this song, and afterward separately. “Father’s Day” reminds me of a classic Karp tune called "Prison Shake." I’ve listened to this record pretty much every day since I got it, and I keep turning over little details that keep me engaged. It's a hell of a record, and while I don't like describing rock bands with words like "maturity," it definitely is a new chapter in their sound. We may have four more months of 2016 left, but I’m willing to wager that come year-end, Command Your Weather is at the top of my list.


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Rodney Crowell review: The power of 2,000 people singing a Bob Dylan cover

Posted By on Wed, Aug 31, 2016 at 3:27 PM

Nashville singer-songwriter Rodney Crowell played River City Roots Festival Sat. August 27. - PHOTO COURTESY OF JOSEPH LLANES
  • photo courtesy of Joseph Llanes
  • Nashville singer-songwriter Rodney Crowell played River City Roots Festival Sat. August 27.


From a punk show circle pit to a front porch pickin’ party, music has a way of tying us together like nothing else on earth. For 2,000 people who swelled the intersection of Main Street and Ryman to see Rodney Crowell and his band close the River City Roots Fest Saturday night, one song transformed the wildly disparate crowd of music lovers into a single organism.

The heart of downtown was packed solid with hippies and hipsters, vacationing bikers and students enjoying their last hurrah of summer before classes start Monday. There were young parents pushing baby-laden strollers, old country fans in expensive camp chairs, and us—a couple of middle-aged parents who don't go out much any more. But we did that night to see a real live musical legend. Crowell and his crack band played a few new tunes, then treated the crowd to a string of hits. There was dancing. Whooping. Reveling, even. About an hour into the set he peeled off the opening chords to Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone,” singing, “I remember a time you looked so fine, threw the bums a dime in your prime…” Then the leveled accusation, “Didn't you?”

The crowd sang those last two words with gusto and precision. They were in, and Rodney knew he had ‘em. He played through the rest of the verse, drawing the anticipation from the crowd like a huge inspiration of air. When the chorus hit, he simply smiled and stepped back from the mic, signaling to the audience that this was our moment. And we seized it. “How does it feel?” we sang. Crowell beamed. “How does it FEEL!” we roared. No verbal encouragement was given, no beckoning hands, no “I can't hear you” pantomime. Crowell knew he'd given us all the permission we needed and we ran with it. “To be on your own!” Of course we knew the words—if rock and roll has a single anthem, this is it. “With no direction home!” Harmonies were starting to develop. We sang lustily, unashamed, at the top of our lungs. “Like a complete unknoooown!”
The tsunami of voices, charged with passion and blissful release, echoed off the brick walls of Missoula's ancient downtown buildings. “Like a rolling STONE,” came the crescendo.

Onstage, Crowell shared a smile with his lead guitarist, basking in a rare, powerful moment of human connection that he so masterfully precipitated. It might not have been the first time he's given the chorus to the crowd during that song, and of course he's not the first artist to encourage a massive singalong. The oft-heard live version of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' “Breakdown” comes to mind, when the audience spontaneously sings the entire first verse, prompting an amused Petty to drawl, “Y’all gonna put me out of a job.” But this was one of those perfect confluences of the right song, the right night and a seasoned performer having an affectionate audience in the palm of his hand.

Crowell has a special connection to Montana and it informed a passionate, loose-limbed set. Guitarist John Jorgenson of the Hellecasters threatened to steal the show with his inventive, fiery solos. Crowell let him run as Jorgensen traded licks with the fiddle player and thrilled the crowd with his utter mastery of phrasing and dynamics. When Crowell sensed the wave of the crowd’s energy was reaching its peak, he went into “Like a Rolling Stone.”

The feeling that washed over the thousands of music lovers after they'd become one for that brief moment was a combination of post-coital satisfaction and an undeniable sense of unity. If you were there, you felt it. If this motley collection of people could unite in a heartbeat over a few minutes of rock and roll, couldn't there be a way to use the visceral power of music to help cut through some of the issues that divide us? If you were there, you felt it.

Music has incredible impact on our collective psyche. Take “The Star-Spangled Banner,” for instance. For all but the most jaded among us—and perhaps Colin Kaepernick—the singing of our national anthem always conjures a bit of pride and love of country. More than mere words and promises, music has the power to stir us, to propel us into action. A school fight song can cause a huge adrenaline surge in a ball team, and they'll run onto the field ready to kick some ass for school and country. When the radio plays a song that you loved in junior high, you can almost feel the braces on your teeth and smell the locker room where you dreaded having to change out for gym.

As our society devolves deeper into a chasm of racism, class war, haves and have-nots, conservatives versus liberals, violence and unrest, I can’t help but wonder how we can harness the unifying power of music to tap into that deeper humanity that we all share. It might sound a little “Kumbaya,” but if there’s an answer to the riddle of how to pull together to solve the complex issues that are dragging us into the ditch, it might start with something as simple as a Bob Dylan song.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Must-see live music: Goddammitboyhowdy, Jonny Fritz and the Best Westerns

Posted By on Fri, Aug 26, 2016 at 12:03 PM

Jonny Fritz playing with the Best Westerns at Total Fest. - PHOTO COURTESY OF AMY DONOVAN
  • photo courtesy of Amy Donovan
  • Jonny Fritz playing with the Best Westerns at Total Fest.

This is the time of year I'd normally want to take a pretty large break from anything to do with live music, stages, tallboys, earplugs, etc., but this year with no Total Fest happening, I'm pretty into the idea of loading up the calendar with as much in the way of hot tunes as possible. This weekend offers what I'd honestly call a couple of don't-miss-'ems, with former Total Fest bands making the windows shake:

First up, tonight at the Ol' Beck VFW 209, Goddammitboyhowdy play a one-off reunion show. This band has great chemistry, always has, and is as fun a time as you're likely to have with a Montana band on the stage. Propelled by Booster's in-the-pocket effortless playing, GDBH rips out gut wrenching, melodic punk tunes. That show happens Friday, August 26th and some other great bands like  Bird's Mile Home play. More info's here.
Goddammitboyhowdy
  • Goddammitboyhowdy

Second thing of note is Jonny Fritz and the Best Westerns on Saturday, August 27th at the Palace. Both Fritz and the Best Westerns do some version of country/western tunes, or country rock probably more accurately. What I appreciate is that both Fritz and the Best Westerns make seriously authentic country/western music, with beautiful pedal steel, great lyrics and authentic old country tones, with no real appreciable modern twists. I love that, and it makes their music stand out. For my money, the combination of Izaak Opatz and Jonny Fritz on one stage is a pretty special thing, and deserves some serious attention. Both fly pretty low on the national radar, but have talent that runs ridiculously deep. This'll be a time! More info on that show here.


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Wednesday, August 17, 2016

About Last Night: Gregory Alan Isakov at the Wilma

Posted By on Wed, Aug 17, 2016 at 2:56 PM

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About Last Night: Lake Street Dive at the Wilma

Posted By on Wed, Aug 17, 2016 at 2:55 PM

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Thursday, August 4, 2016

Photos: Oh Hellos at the Top Hat

Posted By on Thu, Aug 4, 2016 at 12:13 PM

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