By Joseph T. O’Connor EBS Managing Editor
BIG SKY – Big Sky’s event of the summer just got bigger.
The Big Sky Professional Bull Riders event, held on July 30 and 31 in the Big Sky Town Center, is adding a third day onto the bull-riding festivities, and one that will have you cutting loose in your Laredos.
Saturday, Aug. 1 will feature a three-band concert with headliner Robert Earl Keen closing out the evening. Beginning at 5:30 p.m., local bluegrass band Two Bit Franks and bluesy rockers the Jamie McLean Band will open for the legendary Keen.
New York City-based Jamie McLean Band will get the crowd jamming, featuring McLean on guitar and vocals, Brian Griffin on drums, and Ben Mars on bass. After leaving the famous New Orleans Dirty Dozen Brass Band in 2006, McLean formed the Jamie McLean Band, which has toured with Gregg Allman, Susan Tedeschi, Drive By Truckers, and Blues Traveler, among others.
Two Bit Franks are comprised of John Lowell on guitar; Tom Murphy on mandolin; Russ Smith on bass; Jeff Shouse on banjo; and Kevin Fabozzi playing mandolin and mandocello, an eight-stringed member of the mandolin family.
“It’s the plucked version of the mandolin,” Fabozzi said. “We put the band together for Big Sky Big Grass in 2010. Now it’s five years later and I can’t live without [the mandocello].”
Fabozzi says the Two Bit Franks are looking forward to the evening’s atmosphere and that his band’s veteran sound will fit right in with the other two acts.
“[The concert] fits into that Americana category,” he said. “Robert is going to do his thing and it’ll have a festival feel for sure. It’s going to be a blast.”
An eclectic singer-songwriter with roots spanning from country to rock to folk to bluegrass, Keen has 18 albums under his belt and was inducted into the Texas Heritage Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2012.
To see Keen under the shadow of Lone Mountain will be a major summer highlight, said Outlaw Partners CEO Eric Ladd.
“It’ll be the largest music festival to come to Big Sky since Willie Nelson,” Ladd said, referencing the 2010 show in the community park. “[Keen] is a polished and seasoned performer.”
Ahead of the Aug. 1 concert, Bozeman-based country-rock musicians the Kris Clone Band will play a free concert following Thursday’s bull-riding event and Led Zeppelin cover band Zoso will close out Friday’s PBR with another free musical event.
Saturday’s concert is a ticketed event with proceeds benefiting the Big Sky Community Food Bank. Tickets for both PBR days, as well as the Saturday concert, go on sale June 1 at bigskypbr.com.