Big Sky Territory: Missoula and Bozeman, MT

Coincidence is generally defined as a remarkable concurrence of events or circumstances without apparent casual connection, but for the Locavaux Crew, coincidence is just part of our daily routine.  After leaving Seattle, camping out in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho and jumping into the cool waters of the beautiful Coeur D’Alene Lake, we made our way into Montana towards the valley city of Missoula.  Having been given a few tips on places to check out in search of local music by a friend who studies in Missoula at the University of Montana, we walked towards Main Street in the late afternoon to take a look at The Top Hat Lounge, a music venue, bar and tapas joint.  We walked in, immediately liking the selection of local brews on tap (try the Blackfoot IPA!  Seriously!) and got talking to our friendly waitress.  Coincidence 1:  The waitress’ husband is in a Montana-wide famous jam band, Miller Creek!  Coincidence 2:  Just that evening he happened to be recording in a Missoula studio with his band!  We were elated at the opportunity to film during a studio session, as it’s something we don’t often have the chance or timing to do, and so we called our friendly waitress’ husband, Tom, and scheduled to meet him that evening at Club Shmed Studios in Missoula.  With the rest of the evening ahead of us, we decided to come back to The Top Hat Lounge later that evening to catch a bit of the night’s featured local band, Kung Fu Kongress. We explored a bit more of downtown Missoula, abused the free baskets of chips and salsa at a local Mexican restaurant, and made a hearty dinner of beans and tuna in a nearby park.  We returned to The Top Hat Lounge and walked up to the stage to introduce ourselves to Kung Fu Kongress when it happened again.  Coincidence 3:  As I was speaking to the trumpet player, I felt a tap on my shoulder—hello Lauren Depaul, long time high school friend!  Lauren, a student at University of Montana, happened to also be dating the very trumpet player in Kung Fu Kongress that I was speaking with.  We enjoyed a few drinks with Lauren while listening to the funky, jazz-inspired music of Kung Fu Kongress (who was performing their very last concert before all heading their separate ways across the country!).  We then made a beeline in the bus over to Club Shmed to hear Miller Creek in the studio.  Coincidence 4:  The studio is owned by Miller Creek keyboardist and ex-Weezer band member, Shmed.  No big deal.  We listened to the band play some recordings as back up to an up-and-coming Missoula rap artist and later interviewed Shmed on his experience running a studio in Missoula and his days during the 1990s rock scene in Los Angeles.  We then joined the members of Miller Creek in returning to The Top Hat Lounge, enjoyed a few drinks with friends new and old, and called it a night at closing.

We made our way to another Montana favorite the next day:  Bozeman!  Coincidence 5:  Without any prior planning, we arrived to Bozeman to find that it was the weekly event Music on Main, where three blocks of Bozeman’s Main Street close down and feature a local band on stage, local food truck vendors, and no open container laws!  Score.  We wandered around Main Street that evening, filming the local band 10 Feet Tall and 80 Proof, interviewing entertained audience members, and enjoying a few PBR deals at the local bars.  We spent the evening out on the town, making new friends and playing extended games of darts at the bars.  The next morning, we woke up just a bit bleary eyed and the Crew dropped me off at the Bozeman airport—just a quick four day hiatus from the bus to visit camp friends at my camp’s 80th reunion! Chase, Hallie, and Pat took it easy and checked out Gallatin County Regional Park before hitting up Dave's for local brews and sushi. Ellie Schmidt, longtime friend and Colgate alum, hopped on the bus the next day, bringing the bus crew back to 4.  No coincidence there, we had been urging Ellie to join us since we started in early June.  Thanks for the good times, Montana-- we’re pretty fond of your mountain towns and sounds!