The 2018 Music Issue

With new venues and an expanding stable of talent, local artists see a bright future — and present — for the Flathead Valley's music scene

By Beacon Staff

On the Rise

With new venues and an expanding stable of talent, local artists see a bright future — and present — for the Flathead Valley’s music scene

By Myers Reece

More than 500 miles away from Portland and Seattle to the west, and more than 1,000 miles to Minneapolis to the east, the Flathead Valley has quietly been cultivating its own flourishing music scene. Its size is dwarfed by those three music meccas, but it could hold its own in a pound-for-pound battle of the bands, or at least open a few eyes.



Bound for the Big Apple

Groovetrail’s Flathead Ellington Project to begin auditions this summer for 10-student jazz ensemble to perform next year at National Museum of Jazz in New York

By Myers Reece

In May, three local music teachers will head to the Essentially Ellington festival in New York City, a showcase of the nation’s best high school jazz programs and educators.

When they return from the immersive music experience, they’ll be armed with insights to help them develop a similarly elite Duke Ellington showcase ensemble in the Flathead, with the big payoff of sending the selected 10 students to New York City to attend the festival next May and to perform at the National Jazz Museum in Harlem.



Cellist Lee Zimmerman at his home in Whitefish, Montana on April 4, 2018. Justin Franz | Flathead Beacon

Rock & Roll Cellist

After decades of playing the cello, Lee Zimmerman’s music and instruments continually show he is a musician ahead of his time

By Molly Priddy

Lee Zimmerman has trouble getting his portrait taken.

When he’s asked to hold his cello bow across the instrument for a composed shot, he does it, but then his eyes close seemingly of their own volition, his head bobs a bit, and the bow begins sliding across the strings. Were you to only see his face, you could think he was deep in meditation or prayer.



Shutterstock photo

Six Months of Music

From Pearl Jam to Chris Stapleton, this summer’s lineup of regional shows is the best in recent memory

By Kellyn Brown

Over the course of three days in August, Chris Stapleton, Pixies and The Decemberists will be in Missoula. And the musicians will all be playing at a different venue in or around the city of about 70,000.

With the addition of the KettleHouse Amphitheater in Bonner, to go along with The Wilma, Adams Center and Big Sky Brewing Company Amphitheater, the college town is attracting a number of high-profile concerts this year, from Sheryl Crow to Pearl Jam.



Emily Elbert performs at the Crown of the Continent Guitar Festival in Bigfork on Aug. 30, 2017. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

Guitar Greats Gear Up for Summer Spectacle

Crown Guitar Festival announces stellar lineup on the shores of Flathead Lake

By Tristan Scott

The artistry of the guitar spans every musical genre and its masters hail from all corners of the globe.

For nearly a decade, the divine diversity of guitar music has been on full display in this corner of Montana, along the shores of Flathead Lake, where an eclectic group of virtuosic musicians gather annually to celebrate the universal language of guitar music and mentor students of the instrument young and old.