ARTS COUNCIL OF BIG SKY

The Arts Council of Big Sky’s Music in the Mountains summer concert series kicks off Thursday, June 22, at Center Stage in Town Center Park with a performance by Missoula-based quintet the Lil Smokies and an opening set by local bluegrass rippers the Gallatin Grass Project.

This will be the first of 15 free events presented by the arts council between June 22 and Sept. 1, which include 11 Thursday night concerts, the sixth annual Big Sky Classical Music Festival and a performance from Montana Shakespeare in the Parks.

With their roots submerged in the thick buttery mud of traditional bluegrass, the Lil Smokies have sonically blossomed into a leading player in the progressive acoustic sphere, creating a new and wholly unique, melody-driven sound of their own.

The Lil Smokies have been hard at work writing, touring and playing to an ever-growing fan base for the past six years. The fruits of their labor recently culminated in wins of the 2016 International Bluegrass Music Association Momentum Award for Best Band and the 2015 Telluride Bluegrass festival band competition. The band also won The Northwest String Summit band competition in 2013. 

“We’re very excited to kick off the summer with a Montana band,” said ACBS Executive Director Brian Hurlbut. “The Lil Smokies are blowing up on the national scene and Big Sky will be a great venue for them.”

The series continues when the New Orleans Suspects roll into town on Thursday, June 29. New Orleans Suspects began playing together in 2009 as a pick-up band at the Maple Leaf in New Orleans. Comprised of some of the most seasoned, highly respected players in New Orleans, their chemistry was undeniable and by the summer of 2011 they decided to tour full-time.

They quickly began attracting large crowds from New Orleans to San Francisco to New York. In four years they released three CDs and established themselves as one of New Orleans’ best supergroups. The band’s fourth and most recent album, “Kaleidoscoped,” is being hailed as their best and most original to date, being added to more than 100 radio stations in North America and receiving rave reviews.

Other weekly concerts throughout the summer include the Tiny Band on July 4; the Quebe Sisters on July 6; Assembly of Dust on July 13; Dirty Revival on July 20; the Turnpike Troubadours on July 27; the Last Revel on Aug. 3; DeadPhish Orchestra on Aug. 10; Andy Frasco and the U.N. on Aug. 17; the Ghost of Paul Revere on Aug. 24; and Con Brio to close out the concert season Aug. 31.

The seventh annual Big Sky Classical Music Festival, with special guests the Mambo Kings, will take place Aug. 11-13. A free performance of Montana Shakespeare in the Parks will be at the park on Sept. 1.

For more information about this summer’s events, contact the Arts Council of Big Sky at (406) 995-2742 or visit bigskyarts.org.