Thursday, January 17, 2008

Long live acoustic music in Missoula, Montana

My name is Jess and once upon a time (from 2001-2004), I ran a concert series in Missoula, Montana. I poured my heart and soul into booking my favorite acoustic musicians, and convincing everyone I knew in that sweet Montana college town to come out and listen. Soon I was doing one or two concerts a month (or more, when I was feeling crazy). I brought in Stacey Earle, Dave Carter & Tracy Grammer, Lucy Kaplansky, Edie Carey, Jeffrey Foucault, Peter Mulvey, Kris Delmhorst, Holly Near, Cris Williamson, John Gorka, Kelly Joe Phelps, Myshkin's Ruby Warblers, Patty Larkin, Eliza Gilkyson, Cheryl Wheeler, The Bills, Katya Chorover, Catie Curtis, Beth Amsel, Solas, and many other singer-songwriters and bands, local and national.

When I moved to Portland in the fall of 2004 (after I drove all the way back to Missoula to promote a Catie Curtis/Beth Amsel show, and return a truck...), a series of people took over the job, the longest lasting was Alicia Baylor, who did some great things. Through some combination of not quite enough community support and maybe some questionable decisions about concerts, the concert budget kept losing money until they couldn't sustain the series anymore, and apparently, now it's dead.

John Floridis (a talented singer/songwriter/guitarist himself) had the job before I did, for about 7 years. He remained my trusty consultant after he left. Actually what happened, was that I got to town, told him I wanted to help, he asked me if I wanted his job, I said yes, he asked me if I knew what I was doing, I said no, and then I proceeded to take over the concerts. Anyway, John and I keep in touch and he keeps me apprised of the concert scene in Missoula. We are both pretty f***ing heartbroken about all this. I am personally tempted to moved back, take my independent production company where there is less competition and more appreciation, and go hiking. But alas, I seem to have fallen in love with Portland. Still, I really wish for Missoulians that they soon get their concerts back, and for my musicians friends that they can return to their audiences in Missoula.

6 comments:

Edie said...

Hi, guys --
Just got a google alert about this...How incredibly sad! I find it so hard to believe that this type of organization cannot thrive in a town like Missoula...!
I am very sad to hear this news...
ox Edie

Matt Winters said...

"apparently, now it's dead." That was so sad, Jess!

However, I have to say that hanging out at the tea shop in Portland looks pretty good to me.

Ellen Stanley said...

sad indeed! now where will mother banjo play in missoula?

Acoustic in pAris said...

Hi Jess,

I'm stopping my Acoustic in Paris series, after four years, and no-one to take over. Apparently, I'll have to be back sometime in the future or those artists we love will never find a place to play in Paris...

Keep up the great work. I'm adding your blog to my list.

Herve, PAris pAl

Michelle O'Neil said...

When one door closes another opens. You make music happen wherever you go Jess!

Anonymous said...

Nice blog, Jess. Very sad about your old series in MT, but I'm sure glad you're in PDX. Sarai and I will be moving back in the fall, and I look forward to many a good folk show by Shining City. :)

-adam in somerville
www.adamsweeney.net