Monday, July 29, 2013

Saturday Night at Farmageddon: weed monkeys and Jim Beam

Posted By on Mon, Jul 29, 2013 at 5:51 PM

The third annual Farmageddon, an outlaw country, bluegrass and metal festival, was at Rock Creek Lodge last weekend. I rode out with some buddies on Saturday. Here follows my account of this adventure.

Bob Log on Friday night, photo by Gonzo Chicago
  • Bob Log on Friday night, photo by Gonzo Chicago

Farmageddon was set up along what's better known as the Testical Festival area, with camping between I-90 and the river. The stage sat at the western end of the grounds. I got out to Clinton late in the afternoon and met up with buddies who'd been there for all three days, and they were in about the kind of jovial moods you'd expect from people who'd been partying in the sun and camping that long (which is to say, they were hilarious and gross; see quotes at the end).

Photo by Gonzo Chicago
  • Photo by Gonzo Chicago

At this point, I took some notes on Farmageddon fashion trends: Camo prints. Nose piercings. Studs. Tattoos. Black T-shirts. Jorts. Dreads. Dread mohawks. Bandannas. A friend remarked, "Man, I'm the only person here without a Black Flag or Hank III tattoo."

After some beer drinking and hilarity at camp, I went to watch some tunes. The Motherfucking Saints were partway through a set of rock/metal, and the lead singer was yelling something about rebelling against corporations while women in cut-up Pabst Blue Ribbon shirts danced onstage. Irony, coughcough. With the afternoon sun directly behind the stage, I could barely see and I'd forgotten a hat or sunglasses, so I retreated back to camp.

I didn't get back out to watching bands until the sun had fallen behind the mountains. Slim Cessna's Auto Club, a twisted country-gospel outfit out of Denver, were excellent to watch. Slim Cessna and Munly Munly, two old-timey looking bean poles, sang together, danced alongside each other and injected bits of drama and performance art into the show. People were slam-dancing even to the quieter songs.

At some point, me and my cohorts wandered into the Rock Creek Lodge and ordered some Rocky Mountain Oysters. As far as non-identifiable fried meat-things go, they were fine. Exciting!

Next up was Pentagram, a heavy metal band that originated in the '70s. The only original member is Bobby Liebling, a wiry 60-something man with a shock of gray hair. He was sporting a very shiny studded black jacket and gyrated and grabbed his crotch a lot. The band members, who all looked maybe 30, let him do his thing. Watching my friends gleefully headbang and fist-pump was entertainment enough for me.

Pentagram, photo by Gonzo Chicago
  • Pentagram, photo by Gonzo Chicago

Also, by this point wildfire smoke was wafting down the valley, which made me thoroughly miserable, and the temperature dropped to the 60s, which felt freezing after so many weeks of heat. I retreated to the lodge bar for a bit and found it quiet and cozy and staffed with nice bartenders.

Weedeater, a North Carolina metal band with legendary status among sludge metal fans, played to a small but definitely enthusiastic crowd. Lead singer/guitarist Dave "Dixie" Collins chugged from an enormous bottle of Jim Beam and cursed at everyone between songs; it was basically how I imagine the Grinch would front a metal band. (Let's all agree that if the Grinch played music, it would be sludge metal.) And I mean that in the best possible way.

Anyhoo, it was getting pretty late, since the bands were playing full-length sets, and I headed for home with my ride, none the worse for wear. Overall, the staff and crowd at Farmageddon were super nice. Some gnarly looking people were there, but everybody seemed out to have a real good time and I never saw any fights. Here's to next year!

Selected quotes from Farmageddon:

"This is our last song. It's called 'Weed Monkey.' It's about smoking weed and fucking monkeys. Hope you hate every bit of it." -Dave Collins

"I made a crawdad pinch my ballsack." -Anonymous

Me, to a dude who I've never seen without his hat: "Do you sleep in that hat?" Dude: "Probably."

Thanks to John Yingling of Gonzo Chicago for pictures.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Tonight at Fact & Fiction: James Lee Burke reads from his new book Light of the World

Posted By on Tue, Jul 23, 2013 at 4:26 PM

James Lee Burke sets an aggressive tone at the start of Light of the World, the best-selling author’s 20th novel featuring beloved protagonists Dave Robicheaux and Clete Purcel, and his 30th novel overall. It’s the sort of bold opening that belies the age of this franchise and reinforces Burke’s status as one of crime fiction’s master storytellers.

“I was never very good at solving mysteries,” explains Robicheaux in a fantastically humble opening line. “I don’t mean the kind cops solve or the ones you read about in novels or watch on television or on a movie screen. I’m not talking about the mystery of Creation, either, or the unseen presences that reside perhaps just the other side of the physical world. I’m talking about evil, without capitalization but evil all the same, the kind whose origins sociologists and psychiatrists have trouble explaining.”


It doesn’t stop there. Robicheaux, who acts as the narrator, flips back through his days in Vietnam, his service with the New Orleans Police Department and his battles with alcoholism, all the while coming back to the question of what makes someone evil.

“Were some people made different in the womb, born without a conscience, intent on destroying everything that was good in the world?” he wonders. “Or could a black wind blow the weather vane in the wrong direction for any of us and reshape our lives and turn us into people we no longer recognized? I knew there was an answer out there somewhere, if I could only drink myself into the right frame of mind and find it.”

The setup finds Burke at his best, serving up the kind of epic morality play that allows his lyrical writing style to flourish among a sea of impossibly demented bad guys and their intricate web of wrong-doing. Somewhere stuck in the middle of it all are Robicheaux and his loved ones, including his heavy-drinking, gut-busting, rabble-rousing partner, Purcel. The main twist in Light of the World is that Burke, who lives part of the year near Missoula, puts this cast of usual characters in an unusual place for them: western Montana.

Robicheaux, his wife and his adopted daughter, Alafair, who is an aspiring novelist, have all left New Orleans for a vacation near Lolo, and are staying at the ranch of a retired University of Montana English professor. Purcel and his newly discovered daughter, a former high-level hitwoman from Miami who is now pursuing a career as a documentary filmmaker, have tagged along. Within the first couple pages—after Burke’s fully charged prelude—Alafair is clipped on the ear by a hunting arrow. That curious incident allows us to quickly meet an off-putting former rodeo cowboy, a crew of crooked and/or incompetent cops, a wealthy oilman, the oilman’s troubled family and a presumed dead serial killer from Kansas who Alafair once interviewed. The presence or mere mention of all of these people means Robichaeux is not exactly destined for a true holiday.

While the plot and writing are vintage Burke, local readers will take special interest in how western Montana plays into the storyline. Burke folds in some recent events, like the rash of sexual assaults at the University of Montana and exploratory drilling near Glacier National Park. There’s a long description of Charlie B’s and another of The Depot that makes note of Jim Crumley’s usual seat. The local sheriff tells Robicheaux that Montana used to be known as “the last best place” but that now it’s just like everywhere else, and in another scene Purcel notes that people think Missoula “is turning into Santa Fe.” In a more romantic moment, Burke describes the landscape as a place “where dinosaurs and mastodons had once fed and played among the buttercups and ice lilies.” Robicheaux and Purcel haven’t visited Montana since 2008’s Swan Peak, and it’s a treat to read Burke again setting the stage in our neck of the woods.

Continue reading »

Party Planning Committee: July 23 to 28

Posted By on Tue, Jul 23, 2013 at 4:16 PM

Oof. As the two hottest weeks of the year loom upon us, I hereby plan to become almost entirely nocturnal, only leaving my comfy dark basement once the sun has fallen. And then, boy howdy are we gonna have fun.
Or choose your own path and click here to search our entire events calendar.


Tuesday (Tonight):
Jugs McGee (my trivia team) will be back in action and ready to reclaim our title at KBGA's trivia night, and afterwards we'll gloat at the Badlander, where a buncha punk bands, including the ever-classy Buddy Jackson, are playing a free show.
(Or you could do something much more literate and attend James Lee Burke's reading of his latest mystery. Whatevs.)

Amy Leach reads from Things That Are at Shakespeare. It is a really neat book, if I say so myself. And oh look: I really did say so myself.

FARMAGGEDON STARTS TODAY. Calapatra is unequivocally excited for this. I know various scruffy, long-haired individuals who are going for the whole four days; unfortunately I did not plan ahead well enough to do so.
Lessee. There's also Wailin' Jennys at the Top Hat, if you're in an Americana mood, or Turkuaz, a 10-piece "power funk" band playing a free show at the Palace. I know where my boots are scootin'. (Sorry.)

Friday! Friday! Gotta get down on Friday!
Hee hee. So there's Slightly Stoopid and Atmosphere at Big Sky Amphitheater, and the Celtic Festival in Caras Park, and the zillionth Osprey game of the season (accurate counting, yes). You do you.

Scenic drives and beer! These things are not supposed to mix, but, well, here's the Bitterroot Microbrew Fest in Hamilton. Get a DD.
And if ye should return on time, Strangled Darlings and Birds Mile Home play the Palace. (Butter had to cancel.)

The KBGA End of Summer Family Fair sounds pretty fun, even as someone who only cares for a good-for-nothing cat. Hang out on campus, enjoy campus stuff without all the fuss of being a student. Win.

To submit an event to the Missoula Independent online and print calendars, email

Friday, July 19, 2013

Last night's show: Steve Earle and the Dukes (and Duchesses)

Posted By on Fri, Jul 19, 2013 at 1:46 PM

Indy photography intern Tommy Martino got this shot of Steve Earle on stage at the Wilma Theatre last night. A few Missoula fans on Facebook raved that it was one of the best shows they'd seen in a long time.

Steve Earle at the Wilma

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Party Planning Committee: July 16 - 21

Posted By on Tue, Jul 16, 2013 at 11:25 AM

We hereby present a very special edition of the Party Planning Committee, because your good-time event mistress Calapatra is actually planning a rad backyard party on Saturday. If I have ever crashed a party of yours, y'all are welcome to mine. (Come to think of it, this invites half the town. Oh well.) As for the rest of the week, here are my suggestions—or choose your own path and click here to search our entire events calendar.

Heartless Bastards
  • Heartless Bastards

Tuesday (Tonight):
Tolstoy says every happy family is alike, but every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. This might seem a propos during Richard Manning's reading from his new memoir, It Runs in the Family, at Shakespeare and Co. tonight at 7. First, read Erika Fredrickson's review.

You'll come away with serious environmentalist cred if you go to the Shakespeare and Co. reading with Kate Davies and Florence Williams, authors about environmentalism and boobies, respectively. These things are connected, I assure you.

After all that literary fun, might I suggest drinking some whiskey and doing a li'l two-step this evening? You have a choice between good ole Steve Earle or the super-talented Sarah Jarosz. Tough choice, I know, but I personally would opt in favor of seeing the rising star, so you can say "I saw her when."
You could also do both, most likely, since Steve Earle will probably wrap up at the Wilma just as Sarah Jarosz is starting at the Top Hat. That right there is the glory of our downtown.

This is no evening to take yourself seriously. Weird Al plays the Wilma, but if you don't have $40 in bones lying around, there's a Super Valu Show (I just made that up) at the ZACC, with six touring punk bands, including one all the way from France.
Oh! There's also New Belgium's Clips Beer and Film Fest, and Carrie Nation and the Speakeasy at a free show at Monk's. Dammit, I can only be in so many places at once.

The litany of summer radness continues, with a Bike and Brew tour and the Northside/Westside Block Party and Heartless Bastards at the Top Hat. Whew.

On this, Calapatra the Calendar Editor's birthday, nothing seems more suitable than hanging out in the ZACC Below with goofy kids like Buddy Jackson and Bozeman's Party Like Thieves.

To submit an event to the Missoula Independent online and print calendars, email

Monday, July 8, 2013

Party Planning Committee: July 8 - 14

Posted By on Mon, Jul 8, 2013 at 5:55 PM

I know, you're already wistfully dusting off the ashes and watermelon shrapnel from your Fourth of July, but fear not, plenty more fun is on the way. Here are my suggestions—or choose your own path and click here to search our entire events calendar.

Larry and His Flask
  • Larry and His Flask

Lessee, there's the fundraiser night at the distillery, if you feel like getting your fancy drank on, and then the Top Hat shows one of the finest Nicholas Cage films, Raising Arizona.

Widespread Panic at Big Sky Brewery! Widespread, brah!

If you're not going to that, might I suggest the Badlander's Live and Local Tuesday, with anti-folk band Spider + Octopus and a whole bunch of Oblio Joes dudes!

Also, KBGA's new trivia night at the VFW, which runs from 8-10, is pretty excellent, which is to say my team won last time. Ahem.

Hey, don't write yourself off yet. It's only in your head you feel left out.

Also, a bunch of punk bands, including Koda Seqouia, Mitts, PD Lear and more play the ZACC basement tonight (I wish I could use the old BSMT name just since it was nifty, but I suppose it wouldn't be appropriate) including Idaho Green, all the way from Huntley, Montana. This is the closest I'll ever get to seeing a band from my hometown play Missoula, is my guess. (I grew up in the town next to it. Huntley's football team slaughters ours every year.) Anyway, go support an all-ages, DIY venue and drink sneakily in a vacant lot far away enough that nobody gets in trouble, mmkay?

It's the Best Of Missoula par-tay in Caras Park! So, you know, a lot of beer drinking with Independent staff, which is entirely unlike every other Thursday night, I can tell you that.

Check out the ZACC's Second Friday shindig with comic artist Dennis Morin, of Be on the lookout for violent seals.

It's the Missoula Marathon today! If you are excited about this, we are probably not close friends. Go decide for yourself what to do this fine evening.

Houston, we have a problem: Joe Pug, an awesome singer-songwriter, plays the Top Hat the same time as Larry and His Flask, an awesome country-punk-string-band. Bird's Mile Home opens for the Flask, though. Also, the Flask oughta be one hell of a dancing good time. Okay, I guess I know what I'm doing.

To submit an event to the Missoula Independent online and print calendars, email

Friday, July 5, 2013

First Friday: let's get it on

Posted By on Fri, Jul 5, 2013 at 3:56 PM

It's First Friday, y'all, and a beautiful day. Serendipity. As always you can check out the First Friday blog put together by the Missoula Cultural Council each month. There will be the usual hot spots you should check out like the Dana Gallery's (246 N. Higgins) The Art of the Run, a new juried exhibition coinciding with the Missoula Marathon.


And then there's The Brink Gallery's Wonderland, which promises mermen and other creatures of interest.

Here are just a few others to think about:

Jack Metcalf, whose quirky art you might have seen in the recent performance exhibit A Synthetic Spring, has created a window display and exhibit for Noteworthy (101 S Higgins) called Etc Etc.

If you don't make it up to the Seeley, Swan and Blackfoot areas very often you might not know about the Alpine Artisans tour, a year-round self-guided tour of artist studios that takes you down dirt roads out in the country and into the homes of artists and crafts people. This month you can check out 10 of those artists work here in Missoula at the Artists' Shop (127 N. Higgins).

Claire Melli
  • Claire Melli

Meet me in the alley. That might sound like we're going to have a fist fight, but really there's a gallery in the alley between Spruce and Pine just west of Higgins. Frontier Space hosts an exhibit of works by Claire Melli called Resonance that combines social commentary and abstract expressionism. 6—9 PM.

See you on the streets. That's not a threat, it's a promise.

Accidentally touching all of the butts: Old Crow Medicine show at the Wilma

Posted By on Fri, Jul 5, 2013 at 11:30 AM

Is it humanly possible to live in Missoula for a few years and not absorb all of Old Crow Medicine Show's discography into your brain?

Well, yes, it turns out, but I'll get to that in a minute. On Wednesday night I arrived at the Wilma for the Old Crow concert absurdly early. I took a gander around at all the women dressed like Stevie Nicks and realized I was drinking a $5 beer with a solid hour before the opener would start. Also, the Wilma was only serving beer and wine, and attending a bluegrass show without drinking whiskey seemed remiss. So I hopped over to the Rhino to pregame for a bit, and by the time I came back, soulful-folk band Parker Millsap had started. The lead singer looked like Gilbert Grape and had one goddamn hell of a voice.

Old Crow Medicine Show
  • Old Crow Medicine Show

Once they finished, I hung out by the stage drinking Kokanee and feeling weird because, up to this point, I had not run into one single person I knew. And then I got a kick in the butt from a local writer, who I'll call Jamie, since that is his name. He is apparently the one person in Missoula who doesn't know every Old Crow song by heart. He turned to me at the start of the show and said, "Wait a minute. This was billed to me as a rock concert." I advised that if he didn't like bluegrass, he ought to drink three more beers. This did the trick, I think.

The show itself was a hell of an evening. Professional performers, a well-organized stage, a sold-out venue packed with people who probably didn't have work in the morning, a setlist of new and old favorites; all making for an excellent time. I'm a little more used to mosh pitting at punk shows, so every time a dancing woman knocked her butt into me I had to restrain my reflex to hip-check her.

Toward the end of the show Old Crow played "Wagon Wheel," and from where I stood, the crowd nearly drowned out the band singing along. (Myself included. I unabashedly love that song.) By this point, Jamie was rocking out as hard as someone who dances like a trout possibly can. The band finished with a rousing rendition of "American Girl," and I was reminded again that I love Tom Petty songs but hate Tom Petty.

So, all in all it was a marvelous evening. Other events followed, including adventures at Charlie B's and dancing at the Badlander's karaoke, but we'll leave those glories undocumented.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

In the sweltering heat of summer, Winter in the Blood finally screens in Missoula

Posted By on Wed, Jul 3, 2013 at 3:46 PM

Winter in the Blood had its screening at the L.A. Film Festival last month with some great reviews and interesting interviews tied to it. Now, finally, we get a chance to see it.

On Sat., July 20, there will be two screenings of the film at the Roxy Theater in Missoula at 5 PM and 7:30 PM. Also, the Heartless Bastards whose music was featured in the film, play a show the same night at the Top Hat starting at 9 PM, $20—$22. And, if that weren't enough excitement, all of this ties in with Montana Rep's Missoula Colony, which is an annual summer gathering of artists in support of the writer's craft and which takes place this year from July 13—20. Winter in the Blood was originally read at the Colony and this year's gathering has focused on some Native American writing.

Chaske Spencer plays Virgil First Raise in the Montana-made film Winter in the Blood.
  • Chaske Spencer plays Virgil First Raise in the Montana-made film Winter in the Blood.

Winter in the Blood was directed by Alex and Andrew Smith (The Slaughter Rule), and is based on the 1974 novel by James Welch about Virgil First Raise, who has become frozen to the possibilities of life, but whose vision quest takes him off the reservation and leads him to surprising redemption. It was filmed in 23 days on the Hi-Line, and its cast and crew of actors—many who are Native American—put a lot of work into it. Tickets are $10 and they go on sale at 10am Fri., July 12 at

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Pretty Lights announces November show in Missoula

Posted By on Tue, Jul 2, 2013 at 5:27 PM

If you missed last year's Pretty Lights show at the Big Sky amphitheater, never fear. Derek Vincent Smith, the man behind the glitchy hip-hop and vintage funk and soul experience, will be back Nov. 20, this time at the Adams Center. Tickets are $32.50 and go on sale Sat., July 13 at 10 AM at griztix. The show will be on the heels of the album release for A Color Map of the Sun, plus the release of live studio sessions of the same album. (Really? I guess that's something people do these days.)


It kind of makes sense though. In the past, Smith has used plenty of samples to make his own music. For this album he recorded everything analog, using original musicians and recording them and himself direct to tape. Makes for an interesting back story.

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