Glancing down any given residential street in Billings this summer, you might have thought a political campaign was in full swing.
But those signs in what seems like every other yard are advertising roofing companies, not politicians. And that explains the sound you are likely to hear on any given street, too — the rat-a-tat-tat of nail guns attaching tarpaper and shingles to hail-damaged roofs.
“This is the biggest influx we’ve seen in years,” said Peter Van Nice, chief of the Workers’ Compensation Regulations Bureau of the state Department of Labor. “I was in awe when I came down to Billings.”
The influx of roofers from around the country — and the sudden abundance of work for established local roofers — is all owing to the hail storm that pummeled a large swath of Billings and surrounding communities on May 18.
Last Updated on Friday, 22 August 2014 15:35
On about Dec. 21, the occasion of the winter solstice, the sun takes a brief respite on the Tropic of Capricorn at 23 1/2 degrees south latitude. Then it begins its six-month odyssey north for a rendezvous with the Tropic of Cancer at 23 1/2 degrees north latitude.
Along the way, at a precise second in March, its rays are directly overhead on the equator, declaring the Spring Equinox. This year that instant occurred at 10:57 a.m. Montana time on Thursday, March 20.
In Montana, though, it is only a promise of something to come. March’s third week usually finds us deep in winter with nary a sign of spring, although that is questionable in this year of 2014. The pledge is that it will happen, but the question is “when?”
I have had the occasion to observe the arrival of this guarantee in various forms, but one moment in time shines:
Last Updated on Thursday, 21 August 2014 15:33
Jani McCall didn’t sleep much Tuesday.
She is the Billings City Council member who first suggested, in December, that the city consider a nondiscrimination ordinance. Tuesday morning, the NDO went down on a 6-5 vote, with Mayor Tom Hanel casting the deciding vote shortly after 3 a.m.
“I slept for about three hours, and I’ve been thinking about it ever since,” McCall said Tuesday afternoon.
She kept asking herself if there was any way she or other supporters could have changed the outcome, but the vote came suddenly, after relatively little discussion. Almost before she knew it, seven months of intense politicking and wrenching public debate was over and the NDO was dead.
Councilman Brent Cromley was also caught by surprise. It was he who made the motion to approve the NDO after a public hearing that lasted nearly five hours.
Last Updated on Friday, 22 August 2014 15:31
Nearly 40 songs keep crowd jolly
By RACHEL CRISP PHILIPS - Special to the Outpost
There was no maybe to the amazement at the Aug. 5 Paul McCartney performance at Washington-Grizzly Stadium in Missoula. For more than three hours, both audience and entertainer experienced palpable joy and fervent excitement.
Beckoned to the venue upon encouragement by fellow rock ’n’ roller Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones, the 72-year-old former Beatle drew a crowd that has been deemed the largest concert on record in Montana. With more than 25,000 folks attending, and plenty more watching the show from atop Mount McCartney (the city-decreed nom de jour for Mount Jumbo), the scene was certainly set for something epic.
In the early August heat it took only two songs into the show for Paul to boldly declare, “I have a feeling we’re going to have a little bit of fun here tonight. The jacket’s coming off early!”
After a smattering of Beatles and Wings hits, Sir McCartney improvised into a brief rendition of “Foxy Lady,” followed by an anecdote about one time when Jimi Hendrix performed his own interpretation of “Sergeant Pepper,” just two days after its release.
According to Paul, as Hendrix played in his characteristic style, the guitar grew increasingly out of tune, prompting him to peer into the audience and ask, “Is Eric out there, man?”
Of course, he was referring to Eric Clapton, who was attending the show with McCartney (of course). And as Clapton squirmed to avoid Hendrix’s gaze, Jimi insisted, “Will you come and tune this for me, man?”
This type of friendly, famously natural banter was a chief component of what drew the crowd to McCartney and vice versa. Even among a sea of people, he made every effort to entertain and connect with the audience, emanating a sense of closeness throughout the crowd.
Such as when he brought out a ukulele, a gift from the late George Harrison, and began to tell the tale of how he first proudly learned how to play Harrison’s composition “Something” on that very instrument before launching into a softly sweet demonstration that swelled into a memorial crescendo.
Or when Paul announced a sing-along to “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da,” confidently encouraging the crowd, “You will sing most gloriously!” And in what other possible way could one sing, when backed by Sir Paul McCartney?
After that he belted out “Back in the U.S.S.R.,” recounting that time that the Beatles were allowed to perform in the Red Square as a historic first. The U.S.S.R. defense officials complimented them and raved about their albums, even commending them for teaching useful English phrases such as, “Hello, goodbye.”
As the sun set into the valley and the show seemed to head to a close, McCartney peered into the crowd and announced, “During the night we see all the signs people hold up, and occasionally we’ll just pull someone up.”
He described a sign asking, “Please sign my daughter,” and declared it the winner, noting, “That’s an intriguing proposition.” The fortunate mother and daughter pair took to the stage to be signed on their shoulders by Sir Paul, and left with indelible memories made even more permanent at a tattoo shop the next morning.
But the evening wasn’t quite over yet as McCartney continued with not one, but two encores, for a show that totaled nearly 40 songs. Despite the show’s length and effort, McCartney was as fresh as ever, energetically shimmying on the stage during breaks and rockin’ with an energy befitting one of much fewer decades.
Indeed, as the night wore on, Paul seemed no worse for wear and at times appeared younger than his years. Truly a performer like no other, he gave an engaging experience like no other.
And in the end, while McCartney has left us for now, hope remains that his unforgettable performance and record-breaking draw will encourage similar acts to make the stop in our great state. As Paul concluded, “Missoula, Montana, you have been fantastic tonight! Tell you what, we’ll see you next time!”
Older fans sing along with Wings
By PAUL PATEK - The Billings Outpost
“Maybe I’m Amazed” that a 72-year-old music legend still has what it takes to excite 25,000 fans at Washington-Grizzly Stadium in Missoula during his Aug. 5 concert performance.
On a warm, clear evening at a football stadium that is usually energized each fall, Paul McCartney of Beatles fame could immediately feel the electrifying atmosphere of the crowd who applauded him as he entered the stage from the right. He acknowledged the crowd by touching a finger on his tongue and onto the microphone signaling without words this would be a “rockin” night by the initial reception. You could also tell by his smile and body language that he definitely appreciated the Montana welcome and we were in for a treat.
McCartney commenced his performance logically with a Beatle fan favorite, “Eight Days a Week.” This first song set off another loud affirmation by the crowd of young and old (mostly old like me). At the end of his first two songs, Paul immediately took off his lavender jacket in response to the humid evening and jokingly commented, “This will be the only wardrobe malfunction of the night.” He drew a complimentary chuckle from the crowd.
McCartney blended new songs with old, keeping all of us guessing what song would be next. I took personal appreciation for the first song he sang from the Wings era, “Listen What the Man Said,” since I was a youngster in that generation. I sang along with another person my age near me, and we appreciated that era together.
Paul briefly shifted gears again to Beatlemania with “Paperback Writer” and the more mellow and last hit song of the Beatles, “The Long and Winding Road.” He returned again to the Wings era with “Maybe I’m Amazed” and “Another Day,” sandwiching another popular Beatle song in between the two with “We Can Work It Out.”
McCartney changed gears again and sang the mellow hits “And I Love Her” and “Blackbird” before shifting back to a few of my personal Beatle favorites, “Lady Madonna” and “Eleanor Rigby.”
Paul unselfishly took time out at different times during the performance to recognize the two late Beatles, John Lennon and George Harrison. Paul sang “Here Today” as a tribute to John, depicting what he wished he had said to him before his death.
He also recognized George by looking up to heaven and playing a ukulele synonymous with the “Quiet Beatle” and singing the smash “Something,” which was written and sung by Harrison. The crowd was in unison with McCartney’s tribute to both men as their pictures were shown on the large screens bookending the stage. This was a moving, heartfelt expression by McCartney we were able to share with him, as well as his loss of his wife, Linda, in 1998 to cancer.
The final stage of the concert was memorable beyond belief. McCartney went back into “sing along” mode with the hits “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da,” “Band on the Run” and “Back in the USSR.” He then returned us to a relaxed state with “Let It Be” before getting us back into jamming mode with the awesome pyrotechnic show in unison with the hit “Live and Let Die” of James Bond movie fame.
How do you follow that up? With another “sing along” of “Hey Jude.”
McCartney and his band left the stage after 2 1/2 hours of taking us back into time. You could have predicted that, like most concerts, there would be an encore. However, I did not expect two of them.
“Yesterday” and “Day Tripper” highlighted the six songs he sang before he exited the stage. Paul also hinted he may return to Washington-Grizzly Stadium. That sure would be an encore for those of us who had the privilege to witness this historic event.
Well, that is one more thing I can cross off the bucket list. Where did I place that piece of paper?
Last Updated on Friday, 15 August 2014 17:33