By Tyler Allen Explore Big Sky Associate Editor
BIG SKY – Pinky and the Floyd returns with its assembly of sound and lights to Whiskey Jack’s at Big Sky Resort April 12, for the second time this winter. If you attended the Feb. 22 show at the resort or have seen Pinky in the past, you know the pulsing presence they bring to the stage.
If you’ve never seen Pinky and even remotely enjoy Pink Floyd’s music – or like to dance – you owe it to yourself to see this band at 7,500 feet.
Bozeman’s Pink Floyd tribute band has played from Paradise Valley’s Pine Creek Café to Billings, Butte and Missoula, and performs notorious, annual theater productions in Bozeman. Consisting of 10 of Bozeman’s hardest working musicians, the band brings a professionalism and production value rivaled by few in the region.
Pinky made its debut in 2008 when it opened for a Doors cover band at the Zebra Cocktail Lounge. The idea of a Pink Floyd tribute band wasn’t the first crack at a cover band by this crew.
“Sean [Lehmann] and I tried to do a Led Zeppelin tribute band but it didn’t go over well,” said lead guitarist and founding member Luke Flansburg. “Led Zeppelin is pretty tough to play.”
The founding members all liked Pink Floyd’s music, and the more Flansburg dug into the catalog, the more he realized the influence it had on his life.
“‘Dark Side of the Moon’ was one of records I bought at Cactus Records in the fall of ‘97 when I first moved here to go to school,” he said. “I remember when the clocks go off in ‘Time,’ it startled the s— out of me.”
Founding members Flansburg, Lehmann on bass, and rhythm guitarist Dustin Tucker played that first show six years ago, and since are joined by seven more of the region’s best musicians to create the powerful, 10-piece ensemble that can perform any of more than 60 Pink Floyd originals when they take the stage.
Keyboardist Joe Kirchner could be called the band’s mascot as he dons a tall, pink beehive wig every show. He rips solos on his keytar, an instrument that is unfamiliar to most unless you grew up watching MTV music videos in the ‘80s. Chris Cundy, on Hammond B3 Organ, brigs a wide diversity of musical interests to the sound, and versatility thanks to his experience as a composer and sound engineer.
Drummers Adam Greenburg and Drew Fleming – who’s also responsible for the myriad samples in Floyd’s compositions – hold down the rhythm of this large outfit and drive the powerful pace of some of Pink Floyd’s most ambitious songs. Jake Fleming is the chameleon of the group, serving up searing saxophone solos as well as acoustic guitar riffs on beloved tunes like “Wish You Were Here” and “Fearless.”
The lynchpin of Pinky’s big, operatic sound may be vocalists Jeni Fleming and Krista Barnett. Hearing these two belt out the final refrain of “Eclipse” or trade solos on “Great Gig in the Sky” is an experience music fans in southwest Montana are lucky to have.
While they’ve played the same band’s catalog during more than 50 shows, Pinky doesn’t show any signs of slowing down or getting bored with the music.
“There’s something about Pink Floyd and what it does to me,” Jake Fleming said. “It’s scary and mysterious in its sound… when we look at Beethoven and Brahms, it’s cosmic to us now. How is Pink Floyd going to translate 300 years in the future? Where do we get to hear that experience?”
It’s impossible to say how culture will perceive Pink Floyd’s music in three centuries, but those who live in southwest Montana are treated to a taste of the live experience of Britain’s legendary band, every time Pinky takes the stage.
Pinky and the Floyd plays Big Sky Resort’s Whiskey Jack’s as part of “A Retro Weekend with Petty and Pink.” Flansburg will work double tribute-band duty as lead guitarist for The Petty Band on Friday night.