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Moonlight MusicFest introduces two more groups

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Blackberry Smoke evokes the sounds of classic rock to create a rich and unique style. PHOTO BY DAVID MCCLISTER

MOONLIGHT MUSICFEST

The Moonlight MusicFest team is excited to introduce two more epic groups from what’s shaping up to be a larger-than-life musical experience—smack dab in one of the most beautiful pockets of the state.

THE WAR AND TREATY

We salute The War and Treaty this holiday. 

When The War and Treaty stepped up to fill a last minute spot at the 2018 Americana Music Festival & Conference, they dropped jaws at the Cannery Ballroom in Nashville—the band has been on a steady burn ever since.

Needless to say, we are thrilled to have The War and Treaty performing at this year’s Moonlight MusicFest, which takes place Aug. 16-17 in Big Sky, MT.

Funky bass lines, keys, lap steel, acoustic strings and stripped-down percussion create a swampy Southern soul bed for Michael and Tanya Trotter’s transcendent vocals.

Michael is a Wounded Warrior who found his voice while serving in Iraq, when he was pulled from the frontlines to write songs for the fallen. Tanya is a lifelong artist, drawn to singing’s power to take another’s pain away.

Tanya’s voice is honeyed and bold, guttural yet angelic, and Michael possesses a once-in-a-generation volcano of a voice.

Michael started writing early on, and spent his childhood in urban areas—sometimes in and out of homeless shelters. Michael enlisted in the United States Army in 2003, two years after 9/11.

“I didn’t know it was wartime,” he says. “People say, ‘How do you not know that?’ Well, in the neighborhood I grew up in, we weren’t patriotic. No one cared—that’s rich people’s news.  Meanwhile, someone I know just got shot on my street yesterday.”

But what Michael did know was that as a soldier, he felt proud—then scared.

He was sent to Iraq, where leaders who outranked him saw the fear in his eyes and treated him not as an underling, but as a brother.

Stationed in one of Saddam Hussein’s rubbled palaces, he had access to a piano that had emerged miraculously unscathed. A captain heard him play and sing and he encouraged Michael to pursue music. When that same captain was killed, Michael sat down to write—really write—for the first time.

Officers gave him a new charge: write and perform songs for the fallen. So whenever a brother or sister in arms died, Michael spoke to buddies, uncovered the story, and penned a song for the memorial.

When Michael returned home, he was playing at a festival that also featured Tanya Blount. They eventually dated, married, started a family and began performing together.

“We allow people to see two people that are not perfect,” says Tanya. “We get on stage. We sweat. We’re overweight. We yell. We get ugly, we scream. My hair comes loose. We’re vulnerable––naked––in front of people, and it’s a chain reaction. It allows them to be vulnerable, too.”

The War and Treaty delivers a show that make the hairs on the back of necks stand up, and their music and stories bring tears and goose bumps to anyone lucky enough to bear witness.

BLACKBERRY SMOKE

There’s nothing that quite says Fourth of July fun more than good old classic rock music. And you’ll find that sound in every lick, riff and chord of Blackberry Smoke’s music. 

“Blackberry Smoke has become the pinnacle of what good, southern-flavored rock and roll should sound like,” wrote Glide Magazine. “Not sticking to their deep twangy Georgia roots, they have swum around in the creek of many colors, coming up for air with psychedelic, prog, country and western, Americana and plain ole ass-kicking rock and blues … ”

Since emerging from Atlanta in the early 2000s, the quintet, comprised of vocalist and lead guitarist Charlie Starr, guitarist and vocalist Paul Jackson, bassist and vocalist Richard Turner, drummer Brit Turner and keyboardist Brandon Still, has become known for a singular sound. Blackberry Smoke is part of a lineage that shares a love of Tom Petty, the Allman Brothers Band, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Hank Williams Jr.

Blackberry Smoke also just announced a new fall tour with The Record Company, a band also taking the stage at this year’s Moonlight MusicFest. Could a possible jam with the two bands be in sight for the Saturday evening of the event in Big Sky? Come find out.

 “Find A Light,” Blackberry Smoke’s first studio album features rich instrumental flourishes as keening fiddle, solemn organ and bar-band piano boogie add further depth and resonance.

“That’s one of my favorite things about Blackberry Smoke’s albums and live performances—there’s a lot of variety,” Starr says.

Interestingly enough, one of their guest musicians on the album was The Wood Brothers, who will also be performing at the Moonlight MusicFest on Saturday.

“As we were recording that song, I was singing it, and from the very beginning of that song—even in its embryonic stage—I wanted it to be a three-part harmony all the way through,” Starr says. “I asked The Wood Brothers because I love their vocal blend. They’re fantastic harmony singers.”

Visit moonlightmusicfest.com to check out The War and Treaty and Blackberry Smoke’s music and purchase tickets.

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