Celebrating Summer with International Talent

By Beacon Staff

The Crown of the Continent Guitar Foundation is getting tuned up for summer, kicking off the season with a concert that puts local, national and international talent on the same stage.

The foundation’s festivities begin on June 22, with an evening featuring multiple well-known musicians, including last year’s Six String Theory Competition winner, David Browne-Murray.

The concert will take place at the Saddlehorn Trapper Cabins in Bigfork and should be a night of family fun and a chance to catch some of the world’s best guitarists in action, according to David Feffer, founder and chairman of the COCGF.

“It’s a summer party, to kick off the summer and everybody getting back into the valley,” Feffer said last week. “The snow’s melting, Going-to-the-Sun Road is going to be opening; it’s going to be a really great evening of music.”

Other musicians scheduled to perform will include guitarists Jody Fisher and Doug Smith; Bill Mize, a past winner of The Winfield National Finger-style Guitar Competition in Kansas; and Beth Bramhall, a multi-instrumentalist and composer from Missoula.

Simone Craft, 15, from Whitefish, will open the evening’s concert. Craft is one of 15 scholarship recipients around the valley who will attend the COC Guitar Workshop later in the summer.

A diverse lineup means a range of musical styles, Feffer said, and should fit just about anyone’s taste for tunes on a Friday evening. Styles will include acoustic, jazz and bluegrass.

Attendees are invited to bring blankets, lawn chairs and food for a picnic-style meal, Feffer said. Tickets are not required, but a $10 donation is suggested. No outside alcohol is allowed. The gates open at 5:30 p.m. and the music starts at 7 p.m. In case of bad weather, the event will be moved to the Bethany Lutheran Church in Bigfork.

Browne-Murray landed last week in the Flathead after flying in from his home in Belfast, Ireland. In a conversation with the Beacon, the musician was still a bit confounded by jetlag, but he was sure about his excitement to be back in the valley.

As the winner of last year’s Six String Theory Competition, which took place at the Bigfork Center for the Performing Arts and co-sponsored by the Yamaha Instrument Company, the judges decided that Browne-Murray was the best of the best, outperforming a juried pool of contestants from around the world.

Part of his winnings included a week at the Flathead Lake Lodge, and Browne-Murray said being in Montana is surreal compared to Ireland.

“You guys have mountains and nice weather and real wildlife,” he said. “It’s kind of difficult to explain; I think I’m kind of still in shock.”

Before his stay at the Lodge, Browne-Murray spent time at home with the Feffers, who took him to Flathead Lake and were hoping to get to the National Bison Range as well.

They also had plans to put up posters advertising the June 22 concert, and Browne-Murray said he had no problem helping in any way he can.

Being part of the COCGF has been an eye-opening experience for him, he said, because he gets to play with world-famous talent and legendary guitarists who insist that he not address them as “sir” and they call him “dude.”

It’s an incredible way to instantly immerse oneself in the guitar culture, Browne-Murray said, and he hopes to participate in every event that he can.

“I cannot wait to work with them for the rest of my life,” Browne-Murray said.

The COCGF was founded in 2009 as a way to draw in local guitar talent and expose the Flathead Valley’s music culture to the rest of the world. It gained notoriety quickly, and will include multiple artists in residence for this summer’s workshop.

Those artists will include Chris Hillman, Herb Pedersen, Dave Grusin, Patty Larkin, Melvin Davis, Sonny Landreth, Julian Lage, Lee Ritenour, Dennis Koster and Sonny Emory, with more names expected soon.

The 2012 COC Guitar Workshop and nightly music festivals will take place from Aug. 26 through Sept. 2.

For more information, visit www.cocguitarfoundation.org.

Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup.

Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox.