If you're the charitable type who often attends local fund-raisers, you may be familiar with the Cold Mountain Rhythm Band's bluegrass-inspired music. The personable, earnest lads in the band firmly believe in supporting community causes, and as a result, they have played all manner of benefit shows.

"We like to help the community every time we get a chance, because eventually it'll come back to us," explains bassist Zach Millar.

One could say it already has, since the band, made up of Millar, Seth Overstreet, Jason Asteros, Damion Mast, Pauly Donaldson, John Curtis, Keith Richardson and Matthew K. Lindahl, was recently invited to play in the Mid-Atlantic Music Festival in Baltimore this June. Other bands on the bill include the Meters and Medeski, Martin and Wood.

After CMRB returns, they'll spend part of July and August weekends playing shows on each of the seven reservations in Montana. Asteros, a recent graduate of the UM Journalism School, got the idea after a project took him to Lame Deer, on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation.

"The town had one gas station, one grocery store and maybe two places to rent movies," Asteros remembers. "I noticed a lot of satellite dishes. There wasn't much in the way of entertainment."

He met with the Boys and Girls Club, which was interested in the band playing a show in town.

Help the Cold Mountain Rhythm Band raise money for its mini-tour this Sunday at Caras Park.

This mini-tour, which is in conjunction with the Boys and Girls Club, is the reason for the band's fund-raising concert in Caras Park next Sunday. Other bands will fill out the bill, making the event a full day of music, and attendees will have the opportunity to play carnival games.

CMRB began forming in the fall of 1997, when Overstreet and the band's former guitarist started dinking around. The group's membership soon swelled. Millar said their intention was only to play one house party, but they enjoyed themselves so thoroughly, they knew they would experience the stage again.

"We had too much fun," Millar laughs. "And it's been downhill ever since."

Asteros says almost every member of CMRB has only been playing for a handful of years, but don't mistake that for lack of skill.

"Music is strange that way," Asteros notes. "I've been playing for five years, but I still don't feel like an accomplished musician."

Millar says when they play out, the ultimate goal is to have a good time.

"We have a lot of uninvited special guests," Asteros says. "People hop up on stage, but we love that."

And as Asteros adds, stranger things than that have happened. One event in particular he describes with a straight face and an even gaze, so I suppose I'll take his word for it.

"Once, at the Elk's Club, our washboard player started levitating," he states, unblinking. "He must have been up there for about 10 seconds."

I ask if hallucinogens were involved.

"No," he says solemnly.

There you have it. Witness Missoula's only levitating band, coming soon to a park near you.

The Cold Mountain Rhythm Band plays with Grassoline, Granola Pouch, the UM Men's Choir, Ritmo 6 and the Hip*Strip*Tet in Caras Park on Sunday, May 16 from 12:30 to 9 p.m. Admission is free, but donations are encouraged.

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