The Sons of Billings have embarked on a new project this summer they’ve dubbed Montana After Dark. The weekly concert series, taking place downtown on the Stillwater Stage (adjacent to McCormick Café), will feature the group in performance each Friday, with opening guests starting at 8 p.m.
Montana After Dark began July 1 with opening guest Dan Page. Canada-based Celtic jam band the Clumsy Lovers headlined the July 8 performance, and the Sons of Billings will headline the following dates, but the group assures each evening will be distinctive.
From guest vocalist Katy Kemmick to an acoustic set with Flowers From Her, the lineup brings together some of Billings more innovative musicians to share the stage.
“The entire thing has been designed by local musicians,” said Bryant Mettler, bassist for the Sons of Billings. He described the focus as being on artists in the local community—whether they be visual artists, musicians, or even craft brewers.
“The evening is dedicated to music, arts and community,” said Matt Rogers, guitarist for Sons of Billings. “It takes Alive After 5 to another level of community. At Alive After 5 you go, and it’s just a hoard of people. At (Montana After Dark) there’s going to be live art, different bands, and different configurations playing different songs.”
This is the first year for the music series, though the turnout at previous events has been impressive. “People want to be downtown and outside,” Rogers said. “It’s a continuation of your Thursday. At Montana After Dark, the real fun starts.”
Montana After Dark will features live music, microbrews from Carter’s Brewing, a variety of local art and live demonstrations of everything from graffiti art to fly-casting—what Rogers dubs “multimedium.” “Art just goes so far beyond paintings and visual taste and sound,” he said.
“You don’t have to be a musician, an artist, all you have to do is enjoy being with people and community.”
The majority of the costs associated with Montana After Dark have been offset with sponsorships.
“It’s not all about making money; it’s bring arts and community together. When musicians can work with artists, it just creates so much more of a community feel. It’s a small town—we are all friends,” Rogers said.
“We’re shipwrecked on shores, as 1090 Club puts it,” added Sons of Billings guitarist and lead vocalist Steve Brown. “We’re 10 hours from the nearest metropolitan area. We live in this weird bubble in the middle of the U.S. We should be focused on helping each other out and being community minded, enriching and participating in the arts.”
“My personal goal is to bring people together in communities,” said David Cleaves, who plays keyboard and mandolin for the Sons of Billings. “You do that through music.”
“What better avenue to get people together and enjoying one another and enjoying themselves?” Brown added.
“Music is THE universal language,” Rogers said.
Upcoming Montana After Dark lineup features the Sons of Billings and special guests as follows:
- July 15 Kemmick Family Band
- July 22 Flowers From Her
- July 29 Cure For the Common
- August 5 The Forestry
Free. All ages, at the Stillwater Stage, located adjacent to McCormick Café in downtown Billings. Music runs from 8 – 11 p.m. Find the group online at www.facebook.com/montanaafterdark.