Raw and ragin', Prosciutto's the band that eats like a meal

In a national rock realm increasingly overrun by flood-panted, horn-rimmed Holly Hobby pretenders to soul glory, the Garden City is indeed blessed with a bumper crop of no-bullshit man-rock bands. Pound for pound, Missoula's rock quotient is rivaled only by the Bratwurst Belt of eastern Wisconsin and the New South that spawned Nashville Pussy, the Quadrajets and REO Speedealer. Montana may rank last nationally in real wages, but baby, we got it where it counts, and if you think collective testosterone levels have been lowered by the departing Fireballs of Freedom, Prosciutto is here to set the record straight.

Originally formed from a tight crew of co-workers at a local pizzeria (hence the murkily foodish implications of the band's name) Missoula's most strangely yclept band has been grinding audiences down to sorry nubs for roughly two years with the sort of maniacally focused live mojo that makes for enthralling shows no matter where your tastes lie. Looking past the music, Prosciutto's brutalizing live presence buzzbombs the peanut gallery with feats of sheer physical endurance. Just how long before that guitar player puts his own eye out? Just how much more blood can that singer squeeze into the bulging vein on his forehead? If rock 'n' roll was purely the transfer of energy, Prosciutto's got the competition solid licked.

The music, while not wholly unfamiliar in its constituent parts, is a choice distillation of all that is right with polyunsaturated man-rock. Not an ounce of fat on it. Bob Marshall's largely cymbal-less drumming borrows on the heavy floor-tom pounding of his other band, Spanker, but where a lot of Spanker songs combine head-splitting riffles into bigger compositions, Marshall's style in Prosciutto propels the other players down bafflingly-timed avenues only hinted at by Spanker.

The more elastic (not to mention a hell of a lot faster) style of drumming is perfectly suited for Ian Greenwood's hyperactive brand of guitarism, a trapezoidal mathcore odyssey of lightning-fast pull-offs and scary-assed stop-start pummeling. And lurching above the fracas is Jake Morton, howling about food poisoning, keno and the Sword of Damocles. In a better world, "Dusty Bibles Lead to Dirty Lives" would be our new national anthem.

Anyone who has ever talked to drummer and founding member Marshall can attest that the word "rock" appears in his vocabulary with a frequency rivaled only, perhaps, by the word "the." Fanatical devotion to the capital R-word makes the Prosciutto work ethic what it is; Bob and the boys are the hardest working punks in town. Reached at home, Bob tells me that Prosciutto are getting ready to put the finishing touches on their most recent recording venture: 22 songs in one day at the Recording Center. Who besides the most devoted would tackle a workload like that?

Other Prosciutto members share Marshall's enthusiasm. Pressed for a Prosciutto credo, Marshall makes a conference call to guitarist Greenwood. In mere seconds, the three-way connection is a jumbo tub of rock kernels: "Rock 'n' roll!" "Shazam!" "It's HOT!" All excitement, and all quite fitting.

Prosciutto share the stage with From Beyond on Wednesday, January 13 at Jay's, cover TBA. Call 728-9915.

A world's worth of athletes gear up for Whitefish telemark races


Reid Sabin, a Whitefish resident who recently ranked third in the nation in telemarking-that demanding type of all-terrain skiing-says he took up the sport because he wanted better access to wilderness areas.

"You can put skins on tele skis and walk right into the backcountry," he says.

Brian Schott, public relations director for the Big Mountain ski resort in Whitefish, which is the site of a world telemarking competition January 9 through January 12, says that is precisely the reason people began telemarking more than a hundred years ago, in the Telemark region of Norway. "Telemarking," he says, "is the original way people skied."

Despite the long existence of telemarking, though, it has remained a relatively obscure winter recreation, laying fairly dormant until the 1970s. However, Schott calls the 1990s the decade when telemarking's popularity has exploded.

Athletes from around the globe are set to compete at Big Mountain January 9 through 12.

Schott considers telemarking to be more difficult than alpine skiing or snowboarding, which may dissuade some from trying it. "It involves a lot more muscle control. It's a challenge, but I really enjoy it. There is a flowing motion when you're going down the slopes that I like to compare to dancing."

Sabin agrees, adding, "It's the same sensation of rushing down snow, but it's a different technique. It takes a lot of time to figure out."

Sabin says that for him, telemarking is truly a labor of love. On January 3, Sabin placed third in Salt Lake City's national Sprint Classic competition. Despite being nationally ranked, though, Sabin doesn't stand to win the huge prizes or sponsorship deals associated with other winter sports, because of telemark's younger, less mainstream image in the United States.

"It's hard as an American, because there is not as much interest and support here as there is in Europe," Sabin notes. "I'd say you really have to be dedicated. But I'm not doing this to get rich, and it's fun to be the American underdog."

Sabin is expecting the United States to catch up with the rest of the world soon. He was part of a group representing Big Mountain that traveled to Salt Lake City to pitch telemarking as an Olympic sport (Olympic officials haven't decided about that yet). Schott says although the majority of telemark competitions are in Europe, Big Mountain will likely host more, especially after the success of last year's national telemarking finals and the anticipated success of this year's world events.

More than 85 athletes from about 13 countries will participate in the upcoming races, an event that Schott says will be exciting for spectators.

"Telemarking is really a unique event combining power and finesse. The racers say this is one of the best courses they've been on, so it's fun to watch."

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