By Hudson Willett EDITORIAL INTERN
Music in the Mountains, the acclaimed local free music series, held its first event of the summer Thursday night at Len Hill Park.
As the crowd of locals and visitors young and old trickled into the park, the opening local band Flapjack kicked off the clear blue sky summer night with their rock country style, which included songs inspired by the Beach Boys and a love song about a motorcycle.
“It’s always great playing here. Brian Hurlbut [Arts Council of Big Sky executive director] who puts on this event is a great guy, and it’s just a great event that brings the community together” said Mike Beck, lead singer of Flapjack and Gallatin Valley local who first played Music in the Mountains in 2012. “I hit it perfectly, I’ve been on tour on the West Coast the past couple of months, but I’ll be here for a while, it’s such a great time of year.”
It was impossible to not feel the start of summer on Thursday night, as the sun shined down on the park. Visitors lined up for Uncle Dan’s cookie stand, kids waited for balloon animals and all attendees enjoyed cold beverages and each other’s company as they settled in spots in the grass or made their way to the dance area in front of the stage.
“This event always signals the start of summer up here for us, and you can make this event whatever you want. It can be a chill, great spot for families or you can make your way up to the stage and enjoy the music up close,” a couple from Bozeman who has attended the event for the last five summers told EBS.
The evening’s headliner was Midnight North, a band out of California’s Bay Area. The group of multi-instrumentalists with a folky-rock Americana style featured Grahame Lesh, son of Grateful Dead founder Phil Lesh, according to the Big Sky Arts Council Website. The band showed off their talents and range Thursday night keeping the crowd enthralled until 10 p.m.
“All the stars aligned, with the weather, the people in town, the energy, it was a great way to kick things off.” Hurlbut told EBS. The Arts Council puts on the summer concert series. Hurlbut also stressed the effort and organization it takes to put on the free event “It’s a long process for the staff and volunteers. We start in the fall, booking bands,figuring out all the rentals and vendors.”
Hurlbut emphasized how the supportive Big Sky community is also a key player in making Music in the Mountains possible.
“The resort tax funding and the local businesses that sponsor the Music in the Mountains make a true community effort and event,” he said. “We have Soul Shine next week, which Music in the Mountains is always happy to be a part of, and we’re just excited for the line ups and music every Thursday this summer.”