ROUNDUP – One year ago, floodwaters moved the annual RIDE celebration from the cottonwood-shaded fairgrounds along the Musselshell River to the City Park uptown.
RIDE – which stands for Roundup Independence Days Extravaganza – was created in 2005 as a performing arts and general cultural celebration to fill the hole left when the annual 3rd and 4th of July rodeo no longer could compete with larger and better funded rodeos in towns like Red Lodge and Cody, Wyo.
Nationally known country or country-rock crossover bands, supplemented by local and regional musical and theater performers – House of Quist (Rob Quist playing with his son and daughter) in 2010; a Billings-based, dance-inciting band in 2011 – along with art shows, poetry readings, magicians, games for kids and more – have characterized RIDE.
This year the headliner is Asleep at the Wheel, a western swing band that has won nine Grammy awards and that RIDE has been trying to book for several years. After some opening acts (including local musicians Mike Morgan and Monty Sealey), Asleep at the Wheel will take the stage Tuesday evening, July 3, followed by one of the better kept secrets in our region, a fabulous fireworks show.
Main Street parades happen at 11 a.m. July 3 and 4 while for early risers on the Fourth the Roundup Arts and Culture Committee sponsors a 7 a.m. Birdwalk on RiverWalk Trail (south of Main Street) led by Bill Milton (bring binoculars, wear sensible shoes), then a 9 a.m. local history tour starting at the same place. These morning walks are free and open to the public.
Last Updated on Sunday, 01 July 2012 20:06
I didn’t have a laugh meter for the Billings Studio Theatre’s production of “Maggie’s Getting Married” on Sunday, which is just as well. The play might have broken the thing.
If the play, which continues through Saturday, feels cramped, with only one set and essentially one long scene that encompasses an intermission, it more than makes up for it with well developed characters, lively dialogue and a knack for one-liners that keeps the audience howling through much of the show.
Casey Visser, directing his first major show, gets plenty of mileage out of a veteran cast. The script, by Norm Foster, brings together a husband and wife (Shawn Bettise, Elizabeth Alexander) with their two daughters (Amy Peterson, Angela Fulkerson), one daughter’s boyfriend (Zak Kreiter) and the other’s fiancé (Jayme C. Green).
The plot wouldn’t take long to tell, but it should perhaps remain untold. Suffice it to say that the younger daughter, Maggie (Ms. Peterson), is getting married, and her big sister, who has a history of stealing Maggie’s boyfriends, seems to know more about Maggie’s guy than she really should. The action consists of characters bumping into each other in the kitchen as they tend to guests and discuss the wedding.
That’s about it, in terms of story. The play derives its energy from the way the characters interact with, and make jokes with, the other characters.
Last Updated on Friday, 22 June 2012 15:52
By CAL CUMIN - For The Outpost
There are more cowboy hats than usual in the Brew Pub and Bin 119. The sidewalks are busier than most Wednesday evenings, and close-in parking is hard to find. Merle Haggard’s in town at the Alberta Bair Theater.
Many of the crowd are older hands. Merle rose to singing fame in the ’60s. Unlike many of us, he’s retained his talents - songwriting and singing ability - honing them over the years to the thorough professional entertainer he is today.
Once described as incorrigible and having reform school, jail and San Quentin prison experiences behind him (for which he was pardoned by Gov. Ronald Reagan), he’s recorded more than 250 songs, including 40 No. 1 hits. Johnny Cash once described him as “a man who writes about his own life and has had a life to write about.”
Having a pre-concert Sharptail Pale in the Brew Pub, one could swear Merle walked in the door several times: the thoroughly worn, dark short brim hat with its high rise, the grizzled face, longish white hair, even the dark glasses. It didn’t seem to be intentional imitation but rather the way some of a generation have aged and what they find comfortable to use and wear — just like The Hag.
Last Updated on Thursday, 07 June 2012 20:07
Last year local poet Dave Caserio tried something new, an evening of poetry and music at the Yellowstone Valley Brewing Co. (aka the Garage Pub).
He called it “WordSongs: The Sacred, Profane, and the Weird.” The evening featured some of the most talented folks in Billings, including Parker Brown, Dan Charney, Clay Green, Trevor Krieger, Alex Nauman, Pete Tolton, Katy Kemmick and The Tiny Trio. It was a romping success.
Caserio knew that he wanted to do it again this year, though he didn’t just want to do “WordSongs 2.” This year he wanted to build on the collaborative spirit of “WordSongs” and his past project, “A Feast for the Hunger Moon.”
“I wanted to get more people involved,” he said. “One thing I love about Billings is that it has a real sense of community. The different art groups actually talk to each other. There is a lot of talent in this town, and I want to bring that talent together.”
Inspired by the wonderful arts community, Caserio’s latest project is called “Arc of the Communal.” It will be a celebration of the arts community and will feature a multigenerational cast of some of the best local talent including baritone William Mouat, director of education and cultural outreach at the Alberta Bair Theater; dance from Ricki Lu Feeley, artistic director of the Terpsichore Dance Company; Anna Paige, Walking Dead Poetry Slam champion; Pete Tolton, Billings Grand Slam champion; Nate Petterson, Montana Slam champion; and guests John and Katy Kemmick.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 30 May 2012 08:47
By DAVID CRISP - The Billings Outpost
Venture Theatre could scarcely have made a better choice for its annual Rankin File production. Named for noted Montana politician Jeanette Rankin, the annual production focuses on women and women’s issues.
This year’s play, “In the Next Room or the Vibrator Play,” by Sarah Ruhl, touched on a range of issues in ways that occasionally brought gasps from some members of the audience. The men are so clueless, the women have so much to learn, the future is so promising.
The story is simple enough. A 19th century doctor (Blaine Jensen) has found a way to treat “hysteria” in women by applying a vibrating electrical charge to their private parts, causing a “paroxysm” that relieves “congestion in the womb.” Women are first terrified, then horrified, then, well, can’t get enough of it.
It all sounds like farce, and for much of the first act it is. Men and women seem not to live just on different planets but in different galaxies.
Last Updated on Friday, 18 May 2012 14:17
Now that Deer Tick has released its fourth CD, “Divine Providence,” frontman John McCauley III has one simple wish for what the album will do for the band.
“I will die happy if I never hear the words indy folk or Americana ever again,” he said. “I think we’re kind of frustrated with like what people had imagined what our career had become.”
Yes, Deer Tick has been called indy folk and Americana more times than McCauley cares to count. But with “Divine Providence,” Deer Tick has made a CD that doesn’t sound the least bit like folk, Americana, country or any other twang-related type of music one could name.
That much becomes immediately apparent when the stomping beat to the raucous “The Bump” opens the CD. Several other songs follow in that garage-ish roots romp vein, including the hyper-speed rockers “Let’s All Go to The Bar” and “Something to Brag About.” While certainly loud and boisterous, Deer Tick hasn’t lost the tuneful craftsmanship that has always been part of its music. “Funny Word,” “Make Believe,” “Walkin’ Out The Door” (which has a bit of Brit-pop to it) and “Main Street” (which sounds like a lost Replacements gem) all are filled with great hooks, smart riffs and lyrics that have wit and insight.
And yes, there are a couple of songs, such as “Clownin’ Around” and “Chevy Express,” that dial down the volume, feature acoustic textures and more closely recall the earlier albums. Still, McCauley knows some fans may be caught off guard by “Divine Providence.”
Last Updated on Friday, 18 May 2012 13:52
If memory serves – a dubious proposition at my age – the first Billings musician I ever heard was Dan Page.
It was, to further test my fading memory, his final show at Casey’s Golden Pheasant, some 20 years ago, before he headed west to seek his fortune on the Pacific Coast. Gazette colleague Ed Kemmick invited me to go along, promising me that Page played great versions of Bob Dylan songs.
But Page was working pretty hard on his own material at the time, and although I heard him play a few Bob Dylan songs then and later when he returned to Billings, I never quite bought Page as a Dylan interpreter.
I never quite gave it up, either. I heard him give a brilliant rendition of “Blind Willie McTell” one night at the Den, and there was the unquestioned fact that Kemmick knows a lot more about music than I do. On the other hand, I know more about Bob Dylan than Kemmick does, so I stayed skeptical.
Last Wednesday night, Page silenced this skeptic. He played two solid sets of nothing but Dylan songs at Bones Brewing, and he made a believer out of me.
Last Updated on Thursday, 10 May 2012 21:01
Rimrock Opera’s production of “The Crucible,” by Robert Ward, played in front of a backdrop that echoed Vincent Van Gogh. But it was a sky without light and stars: dark, twisted and ultimately, blood-red.
The opera’s libretto comes from Arthur Miller’s play of the same name about the 1692 Salem witch trials. From the opening note, there’s no comic relief.
All the performers in the Rimrock staging were superb, but three especially stood out: Michele Berger as Tituba, Carolyn Coefield as Mary Warren, and Joshua Lawler as John Proctor.
Ms. Berger’s voice, acting and diction totally convinced me that she was a black slave. Even with the dialect, I understood every word. I found her confusion, as Tituba, as to whom she should pray, touching.
Carolyn Coefield’s interpretation of Mary Warren explained to me the dilemma of all of the young girls who were sucked into the plot. Mary’s emotions flitted across Ms. Coefield’s face.
Last Updated on Thursday, 03 May 2012 21:49
Shining, talented teenagers from Billings Senior High School, under the direction of Jeff Long, opened the season finale of the Billings Symphony on Saturday with a drum roll and a march, then played two melodic pieces, “Wandering River” and “Shockuhfunk.”
It was another star in their crown. The Senior High music department just won the Grammy Signature Enterprise Award for $5,500 for its excellence, one of only 18 awards nationwide. What a fit beginning to the evening’s performance.
Maestra Anne Harrigan then introduced Nebojša Zivkoviæ, acclaimed as “the foremost composer for marimba and percussion in the world.” And certainly one of the planet’s greatest soloists.
He came on stage dressed in a white shirt with a high, starched collar worthy of Beethoven, but with much more stage presence and charm. His self-confident smile said to the audience, “This is going to be fun. You’re going to enjoy this.” We did.
The opening bars of his Concerto No. 2 for marimba and orchestra were modern but not dissonant, mysterious, mildly disturbing. The tension began to build. Cascades of sound from the marimba, punctuated with plucks from the strings, gave momentary relief to the listener.
Last Updated on Thursday, 26 April 2012 17:42
Want to hear “I’m on a Boat” when T-Pain brings his Snowstorm Music Tour to Shrine Auditorium in Billings on Feb. 20?
Ask enough and you’ll get it.
“I’m pretty sure that’s going to happen,” T-Pain said. “It’ll get requested enough to go ahead and let the people hear what they want.”
In fact, giving people what they want is how T-Pain’s show works every night.
“I see what people are responding to and put the show together the way I want,” he said. “You’ve just got to see yourself on the floor, not on the stage. Every place has a perspective on the things they want to hear. You want to picture yourself being there and come at it from a fan’s standpoint, not a performer’s standpoint.”
Last Updated on Wednesday, 15 February 2012 10:35