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Moonlight MusicFest brings renowned talent to Big Sky

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MOONLIGHT MUSICFEST

BIG SKY – Backdropped by spectacular 360-degree views of Lone Mountain and the Spanish Peaks found only at Big Sky Resort’s Madison Village, Moonlight MusicFest is returning to Big Sky this year with a whole new lineup of local and national acts.

This second iteration of the festival will feature 10 bands with music for everyone ranging across many different genres, including blues, soul, bluegrass, reggae, zydeco and good old rock and roll.

In addition to great bands, the festival features a vendor row with food and beverage trucks, cool festival merchandise, a “Fun & Games” area for kids big and small and much more. Bring your chairs or a blanket, and plan to relax for the entire day, as you won’t want to miss a single minute of the jam-packed musical action. Several of last year’s festivalgoers have described it as the “best festival ever” due to the unique combination of spectacular scenery, over the top music and a whole lot of dancing.

Over the next few months, the Moonlight MusicFest team will introduce you to all the bands that will be traveling from far and wide to come play at the Moonlight MusicFest, starting with Satsang, Trampled by Turtles, The Dusty Pockets and The Wood Brothers.

SATSANG

Satsang is a power trio from Red Lodge, known for a unique blend of soul, folk rock, and hip-hop, with lyrics rooted in change, growth, awareness and imperfection.

Their live shows embody everything the band’s Hindi name suggests: gatherings of people where truths are assimilated and shared, with rhythms that keep everyone on their feet and lyrics that leave audiences craving active and positive change.

Satsang has toured all over the country and has shared the stage with the likes of Michael Franti & Spearhead, Steel Pulse, Wookiefoot, Nahko and Medicine for the People, Trevor Hall and Chris Berry.

Lead singer and songwriter Drew McManus creates music for his soul, fueled by moments of personal growth and the beautiful life that he’s forged in the Beartooth Mountains, a starkly different reality than that of his urban upbringing.

“I grew up in an environment where aggression, violence, abuse and addiction were always present. It made me a lot of things; angry, sad and ashamed. I hated my story and I was a slave to addiction. I tried for so long to hide from the reality of my story and the reality of how beautiful life could be,” McManus said.

An intense spiritual experience led Drew to break his cycle of addiction.

“I had changed my entire outlook on everything,” McManus said. “I began to realize that had everything not happened to me exactly like it did, I would not be exactly who, where, what I am right now.”

 In an effort to share his revelation with others who may be in similar predicaments, Drew began to write every day.

“I was flooded with the urge to write down the lessons that kept revealing themselves in this surrender. And the connections I began making with other people by making this music vulnerable and open began to change everything.”

Now, fresh out of the studio after releasing their third full-length studio album, Satsang enters a new year with a quiver of fresh tunes, poised for even more magical moments. 

Catch Satsang, the opening act of Moonlight MusicFest, Aug. 16 at 4:00 p.m.

THE WOOD BROTHERS

Dubbed “masters of soulful folk” by Paste Magazine, 2019 Grammy nominees The Wood Brothers are returning to the Moonlight MusicFest for a second year of musical exhibition.

The Wood Brothers, based out of Nashville, are made up of Chris and Oliver Wood and Jano Rix, and boast a unique sound that blends blues, R&B, folk and jazz influences. The band is currently touring in support of their 2018 album “One Drop Of Truth,” which garnered them a Grammy Award nomination for Best Americana Album.

“It’s the freest album we’ve done, the most independent album we’ve done and was the most fun we’ve ever had making a record,” Oliver said.


Oliver Wood crafted his talents as a musician in Atlanta, initially touring with Tinsley Ellis, then with his own band, King Johnson, producing six albums over a twelve-year period.

“His guitar work is reminiscent of Hendrix’s aggressive blues-acid and the twangs of Robbie Robertson,” wrote Relix Magazine.  

Brother Chris, meanwhile, moved to Boston to study jazz bass at the New England Conservatory. He eventually became the “Wood” component of Medeski Martin & Wood; he is arguably one of the hottest and most talented bassists in music today.

The third “brother,” Jano Rix, brings the kind of excitement and innovation to percussion that Les Paul brought to the guitar.


“It’s a little unusual to have the same band play at a festival two years in a row, but we decided we had to invite them back; everyone just had so much fun when they were on stage,” says LynnAnne Hagar, director and organizer of the Moonlight MusicFest. “If you’ve never seen the Wood Brothers perform, do not miss out this year. They put on a great show.”

The Wood Brothers will perform on Aug. 17.

TRAMPLED BY TURTLES

After 15 years of recording and performing high-energy live shows, Trampled by Turtleshave built a large and loyal fan base that packs venues to the max.

Hailing from Duluth, Minnesota, the band’s musical styling can often be a bit hard to define. Bluegrass may be the most appropriate term, but from purists to even the newgrass jammers, many would say that’s not exactly the right term when it comes to Trampled by Turtles.

And many of their songs place them in the “Americana” territory, but that doesn’t account for when they go on a blazing tear at a tempo usually reserved for punk. You just have to listen to understand.

The band recorded several albums, including “Palomino,” which debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s Bluegrass chart, remaining in the top 10 for over a year. Two years later,“Stars and Satellites” landed them at the top of Billboard’s Pop charts. They have been favorites at Coachella, Bumbershoot and Lollapalooza festivals, and Rolling Stone said that their latest album “Life Is Good On The Open Roads,” “balances both delicate ballads and loose, upbeat romps, with frontman Dave Simonett’s strident voice connecting the dots.”

The band is as eager to play in the Treasure State as fans, both new and old, are to see them live right in our backyard.

“Montana was the first destination of our second ever tour in the spring of ’05. We fell in love with it then and have always felt the love in return whenever we make it back,” said Trampled by Turtles mandolin player Erik Berry.

THE DUSTY POCKETS

The Dusty Pockets’ self invented genre, “recreational Americana,” is indicative of the band’s mission to make seriously good music and have fun at the same time, and with this tool in the belt, the band tells meaningful stories, delivered with grit, wrapped in beautiful melodies and driven by powerful grooves.

Their debut release, “Hard Line,” is a ten-song album that cherry-picks from the band’s wide and ever-growing catalog of original songs. Centered on a strong foundation of American musical traditions, the band’s output showcases a collection of tunes that scratch the itch for twang, soul, and rock and roll all at once.

The Dusty Pockets is comprised of vocalist and guitarist Dave Waltherguitarist Matt Rogers, keyboardist Garret Rhinard, bassist and vocalist John Alex Griffith and drummer and vocalist Joe Sheehan. The band currently works in their own purpose-built recording studio outside Bozeman, which allows the multi-talented band members—who are also capable sound engineers—to record their own projects.

The Dusty Pockets continue to find themselves playing on larger bills this summer around Montana, including the second annual Moonlight MusicFest.

“We’re really honored to play Moonlight this year,” says Walther. “Some of our favorite artists are on the lineup and it’s in our own beautiful backyard.”

Stay tuned for information on the remaining bands. Music samples, festival info and tickets can all be found at moonlightmusicfest.com. Kids under 12 are free and student discounts are offered.

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