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‘A new genre they call Dancemenco’

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Paco Versailles added unique flavor to Music in the Mountains on July 6


Music in the Mountains put on two shows in three days, on July 4 and 6. The latter brought another energetic crowd for the opening Butte-based duo Desperate Electric, and the genre-blending main act from Los Angeles, Paco Versailles. 

Desperate Electric, from Butte, opened on Thursday night. PHOTO BY HUDSON WILLETT

After a late afternoon rain and hail shower, the wind settled and the clouds parted over Len Hill Park just in time for the Musicians to take the stage. Friends and families alike joined the crowd as the sun dipped closer to the horizon, all enjoying the music of Paco Versailles—a group grounded and founded in friendship. 

“This group is born of my friendship with Vahagni, my partner in the band who plays guitar… you have to do it with the right people at the end of the day, you can have a concept but unless you’re doing it with the right person, it will not be executed well,” Ryan Merchant, lead singer and producer of Paco Versailles, told EBS.

The headliner duo did more than execute on Thursday night. Paco Versailles’ blend of pop production and vocals—brought by Merchant’s experience with his previous group, Capital Cities, which produced the 2011 pop hit “Safe and Sound”—along with the classically trained, Armenian flamenco guitarist Vahagni create a “mix of flamenco guitar rhythms with disco-leaning electronic production and captivating vocals, a new genre they call Dancemenco,” according to Vahagni’s website.

Classical flamenco guitarist Vahagni and pop star Ryan Merchant formed Paco Versailles, a genre-blending duo rooted in friendship. PHOTO BY HUDSON WILLETT

The group illustrated this Dancemenco genre with the appearance of a tap dancer, the electric keyboard played by Merchant, and several enthralling flamenco guitar solos by Vahagni. The golden, pre-sunset light shone on Lone Mountain as the backdrop.  

When asked about his career, his musical evolution and the genre diversity of Paco Versailles, Merchant again emphasized his relationship with Vahagni. 

“We had this notion of just mixing his guitar with my more dancy production, and we have just bonded over our love of music and our time together on the road,” Merchant said. “It really started pretty spontaneously.”   

The duo’s original genre attracted the audience to the stage. 

“The crowd was amazing, it was raining during soundcheck, so we were worried… but the skies cleared and everyone was in a good mood dancing and enjoying it, it couldn’t have gone better,” Merchant said.  

A Montana State University student in attendance said, “They were so good. The tap dancer was out of left field and we loved it.”

Just before 10 p.m. Thursday night, Paco Versailles played an encore song. The crowd continued to plead for just one more to close out the night. 

The Big Sky community will have to wait for next week, when the Jennifer Hartswick Band comes to the Music in the Mountains stage. 

Big Sky music fans enjoyed Paco Versailles on July 6. PHOTO BY HUDSON WILLETT

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