Bozeman’s Paige and The People’s Band to kick off Peak to Sky
By Michael Somerby EBS ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT EDITOR
It was late on Saint Patrick’s Day in Bozeman when Paige Rasmussen took the stage at the Zebra Cocktail Lounge on East Main Street.
Stepping into the dingy, poorly lit basement venue that is the Zebra, we didn’t know what to expect. All we’d heard of this local musical powerhouse was a few one-off pieces of praise from friends that had seen them before.
Concertgoers milled around chatting for a few minutes and then band burst onto the stage like an armada, assuming stations and instruments ranging from a keyboard to a trumpet, with all of the usual suspects in between: backup vocals, bass, guitar, drums, tambourine and saxophone.
Paige and The People’s Band, which we learned has shared stages with the likes of music legends B.B. King, John Hiatt, Willie Nelson, The Doobie Brothers, Lyle Lovett, Pat Benatar and Kenny Loggins, among others, played with a skill and passion that worked the crowd into a veritable frenzy; Rasmussen belted out track after track with vocal dexterity and palpable soul, and the band matched her energy, rendering a unique and creative musical sound.
We knew then that we needed Paige & The People’s Band for the Peak to Sky concert in July.
Within weeks, Paige and The People’s band was slotted to kick off Peak to Sky, the July 6 event in Big Sky, setting the stage for Brandi Carlile, the three-time 2019 Grammy Award winning artist currently dominating the music world.
The same electricity Paige and her band brought to the Zebra stage will equally charge the Peak to Sky audience, and she’s bolstered the band’s talent with new members including the Kelly sisters from Bozeman’s popular The Hawthorne Roots, making the band a 10-piece group.
Two months after that fateful show, EBS caught up with Paige to discuss her musical background, style and Peak to Sky.
Explore Big Sky: When did music first become part of your life?
Paige Rasmussen: My whole family is full of artists, musicians, actors, DJs and instrumentalists going back a couple of generations. It’s a rite of passage in my family: We discuss what your skills are and what you’d like and then go from there.
EBS:When did you first start performing?
P.R.: I started singing professionally at 14, first touring with a group called Bluejack, singing a lot of soul standards like Aretha Franklin and Otis Redding … It was interesting because the whole band, other than me, was formed by men in their 30s, 40s and 50s. But it definitely helped me learn early on how to front a band.
EBS: Is there a specific way you approach your performances?
P.R.: You know, my parents weren’t like “stage parents,” by any means; they weren’t behind the curtain mouthing the words or pushing me to do anything. But my dad always told me, “This is what you do, this is art. Music is a ministry, and it’s your job to entertain people and bring them out of themselves, to bring them into love. Music is love and you deliver it.”
EBS: How did the band form?
P.R.: My brother actually started the band, and decided to put my name in the band’s [name]. He was like, “Let’s call it ‘Paige and the somethings,’” It was actually really clever on his part, because he knew I’d work my ass off if it if my name was on it.
EBS: Can you describe the sound of Paige and The People’s Band?
P.R.: We kind of pull from everywhere; we’re sort of the sum of everything we listen to. We’re like a soul, funk and rock-fusion band, but we know that if we play music we love that [the crowd] will love it too. We’re not going to stick to any single genre, ‘cause people aren’t one thing either. We even have some folk in there and some stuff that borders on country.
EBS: Tell me about your reaction to getting the nod for Peak to Sky.
P.R.: Well, we had something tentatively scheduled for [July] 6, but once I found out we’d be opening for Brandi Carlile, I canceled the other show and was like, ‘Yep, we can do it, we’re available.’ I’ve loved Brandi for a long time; she has one of the most incredible voices ever.
EBS: Is this the biggest event you’ve ever played?
P.R.: When I was 17, I played at the Salt Lake City Olympics. And I opened for B.B. King here in Bozeman. But those were just big crowds and this feels like being a part of rock history. To be sharing a bill with these incredible artists is such a privilege and landmark in our musical lives.