Regional favorite carries on tradition of punctuating summer concert series
By Julia Barton DIGITAL PRODUCER
BIG SKY – In the summer of 2008, the Doors Legacy Band—a tribute to the 1960s and 1970s rock band The Doors—was looking for an opener for a show at the Zebra in Bozeman. After playing around with the idea of a Led Zeppelin tribute set, local sound engineer, guitarist and vocalist Luke Flansburg thought Pink Floyd would be the “coolest” opener for The Doors, so he gathered some friends and tested his theory. This opening show would become the precursor to the now-regionally acclaimed band Pinky and the Floyd.
Flansburg was joined for that first show by Dustin Tucker on guitar and vocals, Joe Kirchner on the keyboard, Aaron Rasmussen on drums, Sean Lehmann on bass guitar and Ben Johns on saxophone. They called themselves The Pink Roids.
“We had a really good set and when we got done, we looked at each other like ‘Well, we should do this again,’” Flansburg recently recalled in an interview with EBS.
The Pink Roids eventually renamed themselves Pinky and the Floyd in homage to the 1990s animated show “Pinky and the Brain,” and never looked back.
Now known across the region for covers of 80 songs spanning seven full Pink Floyd albums, Pinky and the Floyd has been a staple of local venues for more than a decade. As has become tradition, the band will conclude Big Sky’s Music in the Mountains series on Sept. 8 in Len Hill Park.
The Arts Council of Big Sky began hosting free concerts for Music in the Mountains in 2008, and Pinky made its first debut at the increasingly popular event four years later.
“We get to watch the sunset behind Lone Peak,” Flansburg said, gushing about how special it is to play in Len Hill Park. “It’s just incredible. The crowd is always there, it’s a win for the home team.”
The band has historically played the final show of the summer series since 2018. The upcoming show is set to be their fifth appearance.
“It has been a great way to end the summer,” said Brian Hurlbut, executive director for the Arts Council. “We always get a huge crowd for them and they just put on such an amazing show.”
Pinky has changed and evolved since its early years. Flansburg, Tucker and Kirchner are the sole founding members that remain in the band, but the trio is now joined by six other talented local musicians including Drew Fleming and John Sanders, both of whom played in The Doors Legacy Band when the Pink Roids were an opener. The nine members of the band boast involvement in over 20 local and regional music groups.
According to Hurlbut, even those who haven’t listened to Pink Floyd music before tend to love Pinky’s shows. It’s not rare for a child’s first exposure to Pink Floyd music to be at a Pinky show, Flansburg said, and free shows like Music in the Mountains are vital in exposing people to new, high-quality music.
Although they are by nature a Pink Floyd cover band, Pinky’s tunes certainly aren’t a dupe for the original—and they’re not meant to be.
“Even though we are replicating somebody else’s material and making a living off of somebody else’s work as artists, we still do it with our own flair and character, our own vibe that is appealing to audiences in our community,” Flansburg said.
Part of the Pinky flair includes a tall, pink wig donned by Kirchner during each show as he rails on a keyboard or “keytar.” Nine members is hefty for live music, and although they typically fill the entire stage, the group moves harmoniously around one another as they play.
The crowd at a Pinky show is equally unique, bringing lifelong fans of Pink Floyd shoulder-to-shoulder with teenagers just out for a good time. Between the classic tunes, the band’s style and the amalgamation of seemingly unrelated audiences, the experience is hard to describe as anything other than special.
Flansburg continues to return to the tenant of community, explaining how each band member’s individual involvement in southwest Montana communities is integral to the band’s success.
“It’s not so much that we have fans,” he said. “We have these people who are in our community who love to come out and support us.”
Big Sky has continued to support Pinky as they’ve grown, and their shows wrapping Music in the Mountains each year have become a staple for locals. Listening to local rock tunes under the silhouette of Lone Mountain as the sun sets, it’s hard not to understand why.