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Friday Afternoon Club rallies community, musicians in times of solitude

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By Mira Brody EBS Staff

Between layoffs, altered work schedules and the stay-at-home order, it’s difficult to remember what day of the week it is, let alone celebrate Fridays the way we used to—with a drink and some live music at the local watering hole. Providing the community with a much-needed end-of-week reprieve the Friday Afternoon Club, produced by Outlaw Partners, publisher of this newspaper, is the cure to this monotony.

The FAC is a weekly, live music event streamed on Explore Big Sky’s Facebook page, a virtual gathering place for those who seek entertainment and wish to support their local musicians from the safety of their homes. 

“We asked ourselves, ‘what do people need right now?’ Music and a good time,” said Sam Brooks, Outlaw Partners’ Lead Business Developer and organizer of the FAC. “We’re a musically-inclined company and we wanted to do something to bring people together during a crazy time. People are stuck inside, but you can still hop on your porch and listen to music and be a part of society again for at least an hour.”

So far, the FAC has hosted a lineup of talented local artists including Jamie McLean, Luke Flansburg (of Pinky and the Floyd and Dead Sky), Ryan Acker (of The Last Revel), Lena Marie Schiffer (of Laney Lou and the Bird Dogs), and Zander Chovanes and Ben Macht. This evening Paige and the People’s Band will help bring in the weekend with cheers sponsor, Bozeman Spirits. Generous sponsors have helped make these shows possible and generate revenue for these musicians in a time when they cannot perform live shows.

“It’s really hitting hard for us musicians because we’re trying to follow our dream and it’s not working right now,” said Flansburg. “I think we’re all seeking some normalcy and something of our previous lives and way of living before.”

Aside from some judgmental looks from his cat and adjusting to the lack of tangible, reciprocal energy you get from performing on a stage, Flansburg said his experience performing “live” virtually was really fun and speaks to the commitment our community has to lifting each other up and creating a new normal.

“When the service and entertainment industry is brought to a screeching halt, it’s time to help each other,” said Paige Rammsussen of Paige and the People’s Band. “We’re all in the same business, even if they take slightly different forms, but it’s all for the enjoyment for the people. A project like this is paramount, it brings some sunshine into someone’s home especially because they can’t leave it.”

Rammsussen says the opportunity to perform is just as important to the musicians as it is to the audience, providing them with a much-needed creative outlet an hour of catharsis in times otherwise clouded by struggle and anxiety.

“Music is an amazing connector of people and this is a time where we need to connect the most,” said Candice Carr Strauss of Visit Big Sky, another FAC sponsor. “We’re better together. This is a terrific way for us to all come together as a community and now more than ever we’ve seen that we are a community.”

In addition to enjoying music and supporting the arts, the FAC is a reflection of how willing we are to come together and solve problems.

“I think its been awesome to see that our local manufacturers could switch gears so quickly at the start of it all,” said Mary Pat Harris of Bozeman Spirits. In light of having to shut their doors, Bozeman Spirits has been hard at work producing hand sanitizer for the Big Sky Community Food Bank and other local businesses. “It’s been so great to see how because we can’t get these supplies from a nationwide standpoint, we can all come together and do it locally.”

Brooks says the Outlaw team will continue to adapt the FAC as the world slowly reopens and we are allowed to gather in public again. Live music is a great way to bring the community together and welcome an escape under any circumstance.

Catch the Friday Afternoon Club live on Explore Big Sky’s Facebook every Friday at 5 p.m.

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