You’ve been meaning to go get sweaty with Kris Moon at the Badlander’s Absolutely nights. You keep missing Josh Farmer on Sunday Jazz Martini nights because of Downton Abbey (Oh Sybil!). You haven’t heard Dan Dubuque’s slide guitar since the summer farmers markets. You’ve seen Traff the Wiz’s music videos but not his live shows. And you keep reading weird, late-night posts from the members of pop punks Buddy Jackson about growing up in Heart Butte or some small town and, of course, you’re intrigued. Plus, you just heard that the Whoopass Girls are a bunch of dudes. On Saturday, you can get a load of some of your favorite local bands, plus those ones you’ve been meaning to get familiar with. All in one night, 45 bands/musicians—including those mentioned—will entertain you with their respective styles at 9 different venues, for the Zoo Music Awards.
Since late November and until Jan. 6, Montana-based musicians and bands were invited by the Missoula Independent’s promotional department and Montana Radio Company to enter the contest, which features nine different categories, from bluegrass and country to heavy metal and punk. There was a whopping 180 submissions. After that initial submission process, the public voted online for the winners, narrowing it down to five musicians in each category.
Besides the usual suspects who play around town a lot—Three Eared Dog, Walking Corpse Syndrome, Dodgy Mountain Men, Secret Powers—there are several bands that seem a little less familiar, but definitely intriguing. (There are also usual suspects who are absent from the line-up because they didn't submit.) Who is Wind Before Wolf? And can they please make a band T-shirt?
Here are some others you may or may not have heard of, some of whom are from different corners of the state—BIGinJAPAN, Kitchen Dwellers, In Walks Bud and Bearjam for instance.
With the power of just one $10 wristband, you can get in to any of the venues to watch bands play, and you can take part in the next step of voting for who becomes the winner in each category—all will be revealed at the final red-carpet awards ceremony at the Wilma Theatre on March 2. That will be a fun night, with Seattle’s Moondoggies headlining. But this showcase gives you a broader—and perhaps random—taste of the kind of music being made in Montana. It’s like tasting 45 flavors of ice cream all in one sitting. Sometimes you’ve gotta indulge like that.