Bluegrass music. For many, it brings to mind notions of the Beverly Hillbillies and southern backwoods, moonshine-induced, foot-stomping calls of “YEEE HAWW!” For others it is indistinguishable from pop country a la Taylor Swift or Tim McGraw. Still others associate it with free-loving “Festies” or the new generation of Woodstockers.
In reality, all of these nuances are correct in some way. Bluegrass music today remains highly influenced by its “Father,” legendary Bill Monroe, but is often eclectically mixed with more modern elements and styles. And while the geographical heart of bluegrass still undoubtedly lies south of the Mason-Dixon, the Rocky Mountains of Montana are becoming prime country to find some of the finest bluegrass picking around.
Just this past week I took the time to jump on tour with the Grammy-nominated Infamous Stringdusters during their sold out, two-night, Halloween-themed stint in Big Sky Country. The band donned neon sunglasses to a costumed bunch at Bozeman’s Emerson ballroom, only to be followed 24 hours later with a wild crowd (and head to toe lycra on each band member) at Missoula’s Top Hat.
The energy each night was, hands down, incredible. The music – well, it just couldn’t get any better. The band’s fiddle player and famed vocalist Jeremy Garrett perhaps said it best on his Facebook page after the Bozeman show: “I had one of the most fun music times I have ever had in my life... I don't know if you really know what that means, but it is true. I love you Montana. I really really love you. Can't wait till tomorrow.”
Garrett elaborates more on the band’s website: “The type of people who listen to the music that we play, and are coming to the shows, are also people who go on epic hikes, or ski, or ride mountain bikes, or get out and experience life from all angles. The new song on our latest record called ‘Night On The River’ has been going out to a lot of people. Rafters come up after the show to talk about it…The music sort of sets up the background for your life.”
And perhaps the ultimate intersection of bluegrass and Montana life can be found mid-February at Big Sky Resort. Big Sky Big Grass, gearing up for its 7th annual festival in 2013 has become a can’t-miss event for Bluegrass lovers, skiers and just about everyone in between. Unlike its larger, summertime counterparts such as Telluride, BSBG Festival-goers ski and ride powder at the Biggest Skiing in America by day and stomp their heels to some of the industry’s finest by night. This year’s lineup includes The Sam Bush Band, The Del McCoury Band, The Emmitt-Nershi Band and The Special Consensus, just to name a few. Past acts will tell you there truly is something special about the unique mountain setting paired with the onstage (and offstage) picking.
No, it isn’t Nashville here in Montana. But then again, we like it that way.
Online Ticket sales for Big Sky Big Grass begin on November 15th. Stay tuned to www.bigskybiggrass.com and be sure to “like” Big Sky Big Grass on Facebook for the latest updates.
- Margo Humphries