Red Ants in Your Pants Dance your pants off, and, while you're at it, pick up a new pair

Sarah Calhoun describes herself as a connecter. When she first launched her business, a company that makes workwear for women, Calhoun traveled the country hosting pants parties out of an airstream trailer, learning about her customer base in face-to-face connections.

With this philosophy of direct human connection, Calhoun grew Red Ants Pants to a leader in women-led small businesses and a champion for rural enterprises.

Based in the small ranching town of White Sulphur Springs, Red Ants Pants is simple: “We love hard work and we love pants that fit.

Though Calhoun didn’t have a background in music, she knew there was something important about the connection that live music culture fosters.

Coming together in person is a really important piece of the human connection...I don’t want to lose sight of that in our world. Sarah Calhoun, Founding Owner, Red Ants Pants

So Calhoun launched a music festival five years ago in a cow pasture just outside of White Sulphur Springs.  The perfect place to dance your pants off (and pick up a new pair while you’re at it), Red Ants Pants Music Festival harks back to the company’s mission by bringing revenue into White Sulpher Springs and connecting people through good music across a great landscape.

Festival proceeds provide a portion of the company’s funding while also funding the Red Ants Pants Foundation, supporting women’s leadership, working family farms and ranches, and enriching and promoting rural communities.

The festival has grown traction since its inception, and has garnered positive word-of-mouth recognition among artists. “They love the hospitality and the energy of the crowd,” Calhoun said. “They all want to come back.”

Calhoun said it’s hard not to have a good time at the fest. “The Montana skyline, the sunsets, and the landscape—there’s a reason we all live in Montana.”

When: July 23 – 26, 2015

Where: White Sulphur Springs

Who: Friday features headliners blues musician Keb’ Mo’ and country beauty Lee Ann Womack. Alt rockers Lucero, Shook Twins, and more. Saturday Ryan Bingham headlines, with Turnpike Troubadours, Dead Horses and more among the performers, and Sunday features the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band headlining, with Bruce Robison and Kelly Willis and Annalise Emerick are among other Sunday acts.

In addition to musical acts, the festival has a wide range of clothing, food, and goods vendors, as well as agricultural and work demos, including cross cut saw demonstrations, sheep shearing, horse shoeing, roping, and more. For the bearded folks in attendance, the annual Beard and Mustache contest is a blast.

Tickets: Options include a three-day pass for $125 in advance or $140 at the gate, and one-day passes run $50 in advance ($55 at the gate). VIP seating is offered on a for $500 (limited availability).

Camping is an additional $20 per person. Children 12 and under, if accompanied by adult, are admitted free of charge to both the festival and campground. If interested, festival organizers are assisted by up to 250 volunteers and actively seek help for each year’s events.

Where to stay: The town of White Sulpher rolls out the carpet for Red Ants Pants goers. Festival attendees can stay at a handful of lodging offerings in the town, or on-site at a field adjacent to the festival grounds. No RV hook-ups, but showers ($), potable water, porta-potties, hand washing stations, and trash receptacles are provided. An on-site breakfast wagon offers up hot meals, and though it’s a bit dusty, staying and playing in the same space offers up the full festival feeling.

More info: RedAntsPantsMusicFestival.com

Insider tip: Look for music into the early hours of the morning throughout the campground. Follow your ears and you’ll no doubt stumble into a den of musicians jamming or a circle of bluegrass improve, still running off the high that watching live music in such an intimate, rural setting can produce.

Montana’s Signature Music Festival Montana Folk Fest Hits its Stride

One of the largest free festivals in the west, the Montana Folk Festival is the successor to the National Folk Festival, which held residency in Butte from 2008 – 2010. When the National Folk Fest moved on, Butte organizers were “having too much fun” and decided to keep the event going, said festival manager George Everett.“We had acquired the infrastructure and had a lot of expertise as to how to put on a music festival, so it was an easy transition.”

Now in its fifth year as the Montana Folk Fest, the event is fast becoming the signature festival of Montana—a showcase of global music, dance, art, and ethnic cuisine. Various stages across uptown Butte host a continuous eclectic cycle of musicians, while food vendors bring an array of culinary flavors as diverse as the music.

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Broadway Stage.

Stages are laid out across the city, stages. Each stage rotates through a worldly array of performances. Last year’s festival played out across six stages, including a participatory dance pavilion, a family stage with performances oriented toward children, and a stage dedicated to music of Montana.

The Original Stage, situated atop the city on the site of an old mine yard, is built into a defunct mining headframe, a reminder of Butte’s backstory as an underground copper mining center.

“We are really hitting our stride,” Everett said, who expects record turnouts for the 2015 festival.

When: July 10 – 12, 2015

Where: Butte, America

Who: Musicians from around the globe travel to the Montana Folk Festival. If last year is any indication, there’ll be killer blues, French folk, Canadian bluegrass, Peruvian dancers, Southern acoustic rock, Cajun influences and sounds of the bayou, full on Funk, Asian and Native American groups, as well as some pretty esoteric stuff. In addition to performances, musical showcases bring together different musicians to play together in a forum while discussing their take on a specific music style.

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Peruvian Scissor Dancers.

Tickets: The event is free to all, though event organizers fundraise throughout the year. Event sponsors, longstanding donor commitments, as well as steady small donations, help fund annual operations. About 800 volunteers are sought each year to help set up and tear down the stages, and volunteers collect donations during the festival. “Admission is free, but we appreciate donations onsite,” said Everett.

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The Dardanelles.

Where to stay: There are only 1,300 hotel rooms in Butte, and they book up well in advance of the festival. The city opens its parks for free camping on a first-come, first-served basis. Bathrooms are onsite, but no showers or other services are available. Campers can also seek out accommodations in the national forests around Butte, and a handful of RV and campgrounds are located in and around Butte. Many attendees stay in surrounding areas, including Bozeman, Helena, and Missoula, and commute in for the day.

More info: MontanaFolkFestival.com

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The Silver Dollar.

Insider Tip: Book accommodations in the city early to ensure the full festival experience. The old mining town is rich with nationally recognized historic sites, from Chinatown to the well-preserved downtown buildings to the mining pit itself, and is a distinct backdrop for the multicultural Folk Festival. For thrifty campers, McGruff Park is located in the heart of the festival, and all you need is a tent to experience the action. Once the music winds down on the main stages, catch musicians after-hours at the legendary Silver Dollar bar or at jam sessions in the city campgrounds.

Photos from 2014 Montana Folk Fest, Butte, America

Cure for the Common The Squeeze

Before heading out on summer tour, Bozeman’s Cure for the Common brought their newest release, “The Squeeze,” to Billings.

The album features Garrett Rhinard (vocals, keys, synth), Steve Brown (vocals), Matt Rogers (guitar), Weston Lewis (guitar, vocals), Jordan Rodenbiker (bass, vocals), Joe Sheehan (drums, vocals), Frank Douglas (lights, vocals), Jon Gauer (trombone), Tully Olson (trumpet), and Ben Johns (tenor saxophone).

This album is the embodiment of the squeeze on all of our lives. It is a culmination of our love for music, art, family, friends, fans, each other, our planet, and humanity as a whole. It is an expression of our intent to use our art for action, and our desire to change the world for the better. Cure for the Common