On Different Notes: On a Tuesday

With the weekend behind and Friday a distant memory, Tuesday remains the middle child, a day that is passive and unmemorable. Yet Tuesday has perked up in Billings lately, thanks in part to local tap rooms hosting musical talents on this most dull of days.

Carter’s hosts live music in its tiny taproom most Tuesdays. The S.O.B.s, a local rock trio fronted by guitar animal Matt Rogers, are one of the “house” bands. They play a stripped-down, partly acoustic version of their typical rock.

Many groups have graced the brewery. With banjo soundtracking the avenue and an upright bass handed to whoever will play, the remains of Anonymous String Association have jammed on the balcony, and several singer-songwriters have crammed into the corners of the brewery to perform solo, their music flowing like the brew house’s luscious beer.

Sharli Kiner, who self-describes herself as Carter’s “beer tender,” serves drinks on weekdays and is behind the taps pouring flagship ales and recent brewery creations on Tuesdays. Though Carter’s only recently started hosting music, she said Tuesdays have blossomed.

“(Tuesdays) were slower nights, but hosting music helped boost attendance, and now it’s become my busiest night,” she said.

On this particular Tuesday evening, in the corner is lap steel guitarist and musician Dan Dubuque performing solo. His instrument, a wooden acoustic shaped like a Hawaiian guitar, chirps sweetly to patrons. He slides up and down the instrument’s neck, producing a tangy acoustic vibe.

Kiner said the brewery is best suited for acoustic music, though some amplified musicians have rocked the space, and the brewery welcomes musicians of all styles to perform.

“There’s no reason why we wouldn’t,” Kiner said. “As long as it’s a small enough band to fit in our space.” The venue strives to host live music each Tuesday but commits to at least every other Tuesday.

Next door at the Railyard, members of with Portland, Oregon-based psychedelic pop-rock outfit Floater check sound in preparation for a concert later Tuesday evening.

Also on that Tuesday, Yellowstone Valley Brewing Co. revitalized its open mic night, which found Wednesdays too complicated to host roving open mic musicians with other shows the venue had booked. Courting talent, the brewery is offering $2 pints and free drinks for performers each Tuesday.

The first evening of the newly announced Tuesday open mics evolved slowly. Garage soundman Chuck Bishop opened the night with acoustic bluegrass. An acoustic artist who introduced herself as “Mandy; they call me ‘Mandolin,’” took the stage next. She strummed a hollow-sounding riff, and said, “I’m not going to start with that song,” instead evolving into an Alanis Morissette-sytle groove.

Open-mic nights are fodder for the talented — those seeking a stage and an audience who may not have the opportunity otherwise. Like karaoke for the mildly talented, the stage beckons talents that have room to grow, as well as roving artists with a flair for brilliance.

Resident soundman Randy Wyman, who manned the soundstage that night, said, “We’re here to provide an avenue for all the artists.” He related a story of a musician waiting for a bus who stopped by a previous open mic night at the garage. “He blew us all away,” Wyman said.

As audience members applauded each of Mandy’s songs, Wyman added, “The garage will do this to you every time. We get too critical sometimes. You just have to let it be. Enjoy every second.”

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About Anna Paige

Anna Paige is a writer, poet, and photographer advocating for live music culture, visual and performance arts, and the creative class in Montana through writing. More >>