Sunday, June 29, 2008


Good Neighbor Policy, with the exception of Bethany Joyce, is leaving town. Thomas Pendarvis will stay in town for a while to train his replacement at Dauphine's, before joining the band in Bellingham. The good-bye event was held at the Badlander Friday, and the band celebrated with an outstanding performance, while their fans gave them a tremendous send off. The Apples of Discord opened the evening, and Victory Smokes followed with a vigorous set.

Check the flickr archive for more images of GNP, Cale and the Victory Smokes.

The Missoulian once said this might be the best band in Missoula. There can be no doubt they ranked in the top echelon. The grumbling about GNP, from other bands, must be professional jealousy. No one else can do what Thomas does up front, and Bethany is amazing on the cello.

It's a business decision for the band to seek more opportunity in the Seattle area, but I hate to see them go. Sometime in the future, I hope you will also see more pictures of GNP, taken in Washington State, after they are up and running there, and after I make the money for gas.

A young woman, with a point-and-shoot, squeezed between me and the stage. She thrust her camera into my view, and I played a bit catching her LCD screen and the band in the same frame. I considered moving to the other side of the stage for a different angle, but the crowd was thick and in full swing, and I was feeling too old for that battle. I took one more shot of the band with one of their avid fans and bid the Badlander a fond good night.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Thursday at the Elks

Live Music Free...who could ask for me. The event of the evening, Thursday, in Zootown was held at the Elks, where two bands from Virginia played, with Pygmy Lush headlining. Tideland was the other Virginia group. Three local bands were to provide warm-up, but only two and a fraction showed up. One lonely member of Riddlin' Que showed on time and made a brave effort to fill the band's slot.

Missoula duo, Stein, opened the proceedings with their oddball mix of humor and music. They seem to want to hide their musical talents with pratfalls and banter, but their abilities are obvious. Bonus points for having real drums, instead of relying on the keyboard for sound effects.

Ida's house band, the Sherlocks were the third and final local band to play before the Virginia visitors took over. They made me think Green Day and the Wallflowers had cross-pollinated. Give these kids a little stage time, and they will make their presence felt in Missoula. They're still a little tight, in front of an audience, but their practice shows and their skills are obviously growing.

As time ran out on the event, Tideland rushed through a shortened set to leave time for the head-liners.

Pygmy Lush lived up to the top billing, grabbing attention with raucous, almost punk, stridency and settling into hypnotic, contemporary psychedelic riffs.

Is that Clint Eastwood? The man with no-name (and no face) provided minimalist percussion accompaniment for a time, and then stood upright and grabbed a guitar for a change of pace.

Week 4: Downtown Tonight/Out to Lunch

Blue Collar Swings

It was evening time, when the sun seeks you out to sear your skin and pierce your retinas. It glared off the water and bounced from windows and windshields. Kayakers waited to ride the wave at Caras Park, and Downtown Tonight was in full swing. Blue Collar played oldies with verve and made them rock, while dancers filled the grass. Although the Downtown Tonight crowd was a bit smaller than Out to Lunch, the previous day, thanks to the band, it was livelier.

The heart and soul of Blue Collar sits at the drums, keeps the beat going and sings in a powerful bluesy voice.

Big Band Doesn't

Momma told me, if I couldn't say something good, don't say anything. OK. Let me think...

Benny Goodman's Sing, Sing, Sing was so exuberant, even this band couldn't dull it down, thanks primarily to the driving beat maintained by the drummer. To satisfy a request from the audience, Peter Gunn was the next number. It, too, was well-played but abbreviated.

This is my first negative review on the blog, but big bands are supposed to swing, not drag. Perhaps, this is a weekend hobby for the members of the Ed Norton Big Band, and practice time is limited, but often they didn't seem to be on the same page. Another point: big bands didn't play 70's rock. Why would anybody play 70's rock?

But the food is good
There was a good crowd attending the Out to Lunch event, and the vendors made up for the first cold and slow weeks. Here, the staff of Thai Spicy cheerfully serves their specialties to a long line of hungry folks.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Denying Dinosaurs at Badlander

An evening wouldn't be complete without a visit to the Badlander, where I checked-in on the early punk show. Later, in the evening, I made it a point to get back for Deny the Dinosaur, a trio with more sound than you can believe. They opened the Dead Hipsters' show at Dauphine's the previous week, and I arrived too late, hearing only half their last song. Friday, I made up for that by arriving early to witness the whole set. J.J. says, "Dyno-mite!"

It is time to throw music labels out the window. I remember when "alternative music" was really alternative, before it became just another marketing label. Some local music falls in the guidelines of metal, country, rock and more cross-pollinated strains(i.e. surf-punk and dub-funk). They are all being transformed by Missoula bands into trend-setting, cutting-edge genres. The old pagan comes out shouting, "Thank the powers that be and all the spirits of place for the creative energy here."

It's time to throw your damn television out, too. You don't need to go out and buy the latest giganta-screen, either. You need to get off your ass, get out of the house and see some live music. I respectfully refer to John Prine, who said, "Blow up your TV, throw away the paper, move to the country, build yourself a home, plant a little garden, eat a lot of peaches, try and find Jesus on your own."

Dauphine's Makes the Scene

Shelby Cunliffe

Saucy Yodaa

Olbio Duo

The old Raven has resurrected as Dauphine's, and they have made the scene big time. The Dead Hipsters produced a terrific show there, recently, featuring Good Neighbor Policy. Hear that band, if you can, before they leave for Bellingham. Lead man, Thomas Pendarvis, is leaving Dauphine's and taking the band with him, very soon. Another, tight, local band the Victory Smokes also played that night.

Last Friday produced another strong show. A band so new as to be nameless opened, followed by Shelby Cunliffe. Where has this chanteuse been hiding? Her raw, smoky voice was perfect for the smoky emotions of her original material. A lot of original, song-writing women, in Missoula, are not getting their due. Amy Martin is another, who comes quickly to mind, and Andrea Harsell is all over this town. After Shelby, the Mythological Horses, from Portland, horsed around. Saucy Yodaa opened their performance with three raps.

Stein was up next, reminding me a bit of They Might be Giants, with funky, home-grown lyrics. They introduced the final band, Olbio Duo. Their exaggerated, southern eccentricities seemed over-rehearsed at times, but they knew their way around their instruments and performed more than competently. They came from Denver for this gig.

Bob Wire Fingers the Photographer

The Union Club has music on Fridays, only, for the summer. It's a 50% cut in good, solid local fare at that venue. It may be a good idea, because this old man has trouble closing the clubs two nights every weekend, but I don't like any cutback in live and local music.

Bob Wire was the featured act, last Friday, and he was romping. Tom Catmull has some strong competition in the danceability category, because when Wire fires the rockabilly, people want to dance. Russ Nassett has also led some lively sessions recently and belongs with this group. The club had a lot of top-notch local talent play over the winter. I'm sorry some of you missed it.

The club never charges a cover, and they have Moose Drool on tap. However, it is a smoking venue, and non-smokers should be warned. Milo's serves their menu until 10p, and their spaghetti and meat balls for $4.50 is a bargain.

Zeppo will be in the house this Friday. Be there at 9p, because the Union Club has music start the closest to advertised time of any local venue. Just ask a popular local combo, who started their first club performance late and had their monthly appearances canceled. Zeppo is one of my favorite bands, as my 12 loyal readers know. New readers can catch up with the older posts.

As I left Friday night, a very large penis made an appearance.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Out to Lunch with the Red Hat Society

Finally, the weather cooperated to make the third weekly Out to Lunch event a huge success. There was no rain, no snow and only pleasant breezes instead of bluster. The crowds came out, and the food lines were long, during the lunch hour.

The highlight of the day was an annual gathering of the Red Hat Society. There was a hat competition, and two birthdays were celebrated. Here are the birthday girls with the winning hat in the background.

Here's a close up of the winning hat, although my angle doesn't show the Stevensville Yellow Jacket properly. Another view of the winning hat follows.

And here's the fourth place hat and its creator.

This hat didn't even place in the competition, and I think it should have, but then I didn't get to see the second and third place hats. They were already gone, before I discovered this group of terrific women.

Going down Higgins to Caras Park, I encountered Mark and Rocket, whose seasonal farm work in Wisconsin was flooded out, playing for gas money to Portland. They were also selling CDs, recorded in New Orleans with their full band. They were playing an eclectic mix of gypsy folk, which sometimes sounded like klezmer music.

Coming back up Higgins, after Out to Lunch, I stopped to chat and take more photos.

Their band, the Crooked Speculum Ensemble is scattered around the country. The van, they are driving has a 20 gallon tank, and doesn't get spectacular mileage. It will take two tanks to reach Portland. I urged them not to hurry off, but to enjoy this sweet place known as Missoula.