Set Down Your Drink and Grab the Mic

By Beacon Staff

Local bar proprietors and musicians have different views on the health and future of Flathead’s music scene. Personally, I lean toward the optimistic, though in the presence of people who know what they’re talking about, my opinion is completely irrelevant. Nevertheless, I offer my diagnosis – say what you will about the professional music scene here, but the amateur scene is thriving.

Monday night karaoke at Red’s is a serious affair. Of course the occasional drunk stumbles on stage and drools on the microphone for a couple of minutes, but generally real singers show up. There is soulful little guy from Semitool who belts out Motown tunes. There are Red’s employees with pleasant voices. There are two good-hearted country boys who reminisce about the prison blues. And there are sizable crowds that watch intently, clapping, laughing and listening.

The singing is taken more seriously here than almost any other karaoke joint I’ve been to. And I’ve been to a few, if I recall correctly. It tells me that, in the absence of a music culture where people expect seasoned professionals at every live performance, folks in the Flathead look at karaoke as a genuine opportunity to showcase talent.

Tuesday night open mic at Red’s is also a legitimate live music experience. True, after Happy Hour I am an eager fan of most musical endeavors. But, really, the music’s good. I’ve heard the same about open mic at the Great Northern in Whitefish. Maybe the Flathead isn’t a professional music Mecca, but there are a lot of people who care about music here even if they don’t get paid for it.

I host a concert series in my living room. It is only me, my guitar and the occasional confused friend, but I feel great advances in musical composition have been made from my couch. Perhaps neighbors would say otherwise, but groundbreaking art is always questioned. If that’s a little too underground for your tastes, though, try Red’s or the Great Northern or anywhere that welcomes enthusiastic amateur musicians. There’s a lot to be gained from enthusiastic, and often talented, amateurs. Not to mention, it’s a lot of fun.

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