Thursday, June 30, 2016

About last night: Photos by Williams Munoz from Widespread Panic's concert at Ogren Park

Posted By on Thu, Jun 30, 2016 at 10:03 AM

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Kickstarter: Seth Roby and Aaron Parrett's letterpress book of stories and engravings

Posted By on Thu, Jun 30, 2016 at 9:40 AM

Aaron Parrett running the Chandler & Price letterpress.
  • Aaron Parrett running the Chandler & Price letterpress.

Seth Roby and Aaron Parrett are making a book together, letter by letter and stitch by stitch. Parrett, who recently started a letterpress operation in Helena, Territorial Press Studio, has written three books: Literary Butte: A History in Novels and Film, Montana Then and Now and A Princess of Mars (E. R. Burroughs), annotated by Aaron Parrett. Roby is a longtime wood engraving artist.

The letterpress book will include 13 short stories by Parrett and 13 images by Roby. Their Kickstarter campaign runs 13 more days and they still need to raise about $3,000 to cover the cost of the materials for each handmade book. Why all the work? Letterpress is how books were made from the mid-15th century through the 19th century. Those who still work in the craft see it as an art worth preserving.

“I am interested in work that shows the artist hand," says Roby in their campaign page. "Printmaking and its various techniques are all about the direct interpretation of the artist hand and the surface of a plate. As an artist who focuses on change I am always amazed to find that printmaking techniques have stood up to the test of time and remain almost as they were several hundreds of years ago."

Check out the video from their campaign here.
An engraving by Seth Roby.
  • An engraving by Seth Roby.


Friday, June 24, 2016

Photos from The Growlers' Tuesday night show at the Top Hat

Posted By on Fri, Jun 24, 2016 at 4:00 PM

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Saturday, May 28, 2016

Three days left to help make John D. Nilles' local genre-bending film Saving for the Day

Posted By on Sat, May 28, 2016 at 4:39 PM

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The idea behind Saving for the Day reminds me a little bit of a mix between A Christmas Carol, The Cloud Atlas And a “Twilight Zone” episode. Joe Bell, a penny-pinching hermit is saving and saving for when his life really begins. An old man known as The Clockmaker gives Joe a chest filled with treasure. When The Clockmaker locks the chest, Joe must go on a series of adventure to find the key.

Missoula director John D. Nilles has put in a lot of work for all the genre-hopping scenes. He also put together an all-star cast that includes local favorites Lily Gladstone, Jeff Medley, Nathan McTague, Christan Ackerman, James Caron and Andy Shirtliff. Today at Miscon, Nilles and Ackerman hosted an “American Zombie Idol” event in which they searched for a zombie star to complete the movie. Grand prize gets a hero zombie role and the second prize gets a background zombie role. Tomorrow, you can catch Nilles and Ackerman on an independent film panel for which they'll talk about movie-making tips, show clips from the film and participate in a Q&A. Sun. 3 to 3:50 pm.

The film is still raising funds for final shooting and post-production. You can check out the project and help fund it. They have three days to raise another $20,000. Rewards include DVDs, T-shirts and the chance to be a background zombie.
Check out the trailer here:


About Last Night: Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats at the Wilma

Posted By on Sat, May 28, 2016 at 4:21 PM

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Photos fromThursday's Yeasayer show at the Wilma

Posted By on Sat, May 28, 2016 at 3:22 PM

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Friday, May 20, 2016

American music: A review of the Violent Femmes show at the Wilma

Posted By on Fri, May 20, 2016 at 12:56 PM

PHOTOS BY AMY DONOVAN
  • Photos by Amy Donovan

The Violent Femmes played the University Theater in April 1992—a big show back then, especially for the punk and "alt-rock" scene. Afterward, co-founder of and writer for the Indy Erik Cushman wrote what appears to be a fierce—and kind of hilarious—defense of the show against a negative review from UM's Kaiman:

"Sophistry, the ignoble art of specious reasoning being passed off as truth, depends completely on style and presentation for its plausibility. Hack editorializing, bumbled logic, crass misrepresentation and grievous factual errors undermine the intent of the lie…The Truth is that the Violent Femmes show in the University Theatre last Sunday night was a wonderful success … The acoustics were clear and sharp, the ambiance ranged from subtle backdrop to rowdy rock n roll light show... plenty of different age groups grooved together. There were slam dancers in the pit … the band members were sincerely happy to be in Missoula."

My recollection of the show is the same as Cushman's—it was electric. But, more importantly, I think his words reflect the kind of rabid, adoring fans the Violent Femmes have collected and kept over the years. Even at the 1992 show, the crowd was singing along. The fact that their return to Missoula last night—24 years later—for a sold-out show at the Wilma also included an equally exuberant audience says something about this band's cult power. Some of those songs I'd heard more recently—"Add it Up" and "Blister in the Sun"—but I hadn't heard "American Music" or "Kiss Off" in at least a decade, and I still knew the words:

"I take one one one cause you left me and
Two two two for my family and
Three three three for my heartache and
Four four four for my headaches and
Five five five for my lonely…" 

Let's start at the beginning. Opener Phoebe Bridgers stumbled over a Guided By Voices song before scrapping it for one of her originals. It would have been fun to hear some GBV, but fortunately her songs are amazing enough. Bridgers is a stellar singer, and once she got into the groove she had the audience's affection. "This is a love song about murder," she said smiling, introducing "Killer." Her sound evokes Bright Eyes and Whiskeytown, so it's no surprise she recently recorded on Ryan Adams' label, Pax-Am.

After her set, stagehands started hoisting instruments to the stage. My friends and I, one of whom had also been to the 1992 show, started counting. We saw 18 instruments up there, including a giant 7-foot-tall contrabass saxophone, several guitars, a xylophone and a Weber grill. Throughout the show, we'd see more—percussion instruments, a tiny guitar and a tiny saxophone—and it seemed like we lost count past 22. Some of the instruments were used only once, in one part of a song. That's how the Violent Femmes roll—they're weird like that.

Singer/guitarist Gordon Gano and bassist Brian Ritchie are the only original members, though John Sparrow hit the drums like he'd been playing with the band for years and not just months. For one song, I can't remember which one, his drumming style was a dead-ringer for Gene Krupa. 

The set-list was built for crowd-pleasing. The band started out with "Blister in the Sun" and ended their encore with "Add it Up," and everything in between jumped from old favorites to a few new ones. A couple of their newest tunes—"I Could Be Anything" and "Traveling Solves Everything"—felt more like something you'd find on KUFM's the Pea Green Boat, and with much less interesting lyrics than those children's songs. But others, like "Issues," which Ritchie claimed they'd just shot a video for in the dressing room of the Wilma, felt like old-school Femmes—loopy and a little dark. 

Just like years ago, the band did, in fact, seem happy to be there. At one point, they false started a song and Gano said with genuine awe, "I don't even remember the last time that happened." To which Ritchie replied, "I think we're getting a contact high up here."

The crowd, probably averaging 40-something, still seemed as bizarre as a Femmes crowd has always been. The mosh pit, featuring two or three mohawks, really got going during "Gimme the Car," a bonus track I'd forgotten about from the band's 1983 eponymous debut album. 
Gano's voice hasn't changed a bit, it's still nasally and whiny (in a good way), but I'd forgotten how rad Ritchie is on his big bass. He thumped and plucked brazenly, peacocking around on stage in a swagger. And his xylophone solo on "Add It Up"? Butter. What made them good is that they didn't change a thing. The only exception was the young horn player, Blaise Garza, who was two-years-old in 1992, but nevertheless had grown up to embrace the Femmes particular brand of dark folk-punk. It was a night of delirious sing-a-long fun. 

I'm not sure if the Femmes are just a beloved artifact of the early 1990s for those of us who were there, or if they are timeless. Whatever the case, the streets outside after the show were full of happy, sweaty people still singing, "Why can't I get just one kiss? Why can't I get just one kiss." And since then, those contagious lines haven't left my head.

Photographer Amy Donovan was in the crowd. Check out her photos of Phoebe Bridgers and Violent Femmes here:
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PHOTOS BY AMY DONOVAN
  • Photos by Amy Donovan
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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Let the Clueless Hear Candy #1: Ira Ironstrings - Music for People with $3.98 (Plus Tax, If Any)

Posted By on Wed, May 18, 2016 at 10:24 AM

Every month, I pick a record from Ear Candy’s used section based on the cover alone. Some audiophiles refer to this practice as “Johnny’s Chancers.” I then review the record. This is Let the Clueless Hear Candy.


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Friday, May 13, 2016

Anthony Bourdain's "Parts Unknown" airs some familiar Montana people, places on Sunday

Posted By on Fri, May 13, 2016 at 12:34 PM

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Anthony Bourdain's award-winning CNN travel show, "Parts Unknown," traveled to Butte, Livingston and some surrounding areas late last year. That episode, which also features some of the last footage of author and poet Jim Harrison, premieres Sunday night. 

Bourdain has long been a fan of Harrison — and, by extension, Montana. His previous show, "No Reservations," visited the state about seven years ago and remains in reruns a worthy love letter to Big Sky Country. This weekend's episode looks to be more of the same, if not even more special considering Harrison's recent death. 

"You may be the most cynical, born and bred, citified lefty like me — instinctively skeptical of big concepts like 'patriotism', relatively foreign to hunting culture, unused to wide open spaces, but spend any length of time traveling around Montana and you will understand what all that 'purple mountains majesty' is all about, you’ll soon be wrapping yourself in the flag and yelling, 'America, fuck yeah!' with an absolute and non-ironic sincerity that will take you by surprise," Bourdain wrote in advance of the episode. "You will understand why and what people fought and died for — or at least perceived themselves to be fighting and dying for when, either defending Native American hunting grounds against Custer, or 'defending America' against foreign aggressors — and you will be stunned, stunned and silenced by the breathtaking, magnificent beauty of Montana’s wide open spaces."

He goes on — "And when you look up at the night skies over Montana, it’s hard not to think that we can’t be alone on this rock, that there isn’t something else out there or up there, in charge of this whole crazy ass enterprise." — before ending up writing about the one thing that's always been, for him, one of Montana's main attractions. 

We show you a lot of beautiful spaces and very nice people in this episode, but its beating heart, and the principal reason I’ve always come to Montana is Jim Harrison, the poet, author and great American-a hero of mine — and millions of others around the world.

Harrison — and his fishing guide, Dan Lahren, who spoke with the Indy after his friend passed away — feature prominently in the episode. You can see a short clip below. It airs in Montana at 7 p.m. on Sunday night, and re-airs again at 10 p.m. In the meantime, it's worth reading his full essay about Harrison and Montana right here



About last night: Turkuaz at the Top Hat

Posted By on Fri, May 13, 2016 at 12:31 PM

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