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By Micah Drew

Round Two: Bob Marshall Music Festival Returns to Seeley Lake


Nathan Bourne, Pathfinder

Status the Band will be returning to Seeley Lake again this year for the Bob Marshall Music Festival.

SEELEY LAKE - Summer music festivals in Montana are almost as prevalent as cherries on a tree in the Flathead. They range from the Montana Folk Festival in Butte, to the Big Sky Classical Music Festival, to the new Traveler's Rest in Missoula.

The local Bob Marshall Music Festival, on July 13-16, enters its second year as a solid member of the summer music scene in the four-oh-six.

Last year's inaugural event hosted more than 2,500 people at the festival during the busiest day-including kids who got in free.

"Last year it totally blew [away] my expectations in all honesty," said organizer Chris Stout.

Stout said the original idea included a mountain bike race and a single band. By the time the festival grounds opened up there were four stages for 24 bands, three mountain bike races and four running races-a total of three days of music and activities.

"It went from a small little plan to something that blew up," Stout added.

This year, the festival is looking to expand on that first year success. There are 18 bands lined up to play across six venues. The running races are back-a 2K fun run, competitive 5K and 10K, and a 50K trail run-as is the stand up paddle board race on Seeley Lake and the mountain bike races, which are part of the Western Montana Trail Series put on by Mountain Bike Missoula.

"I think the idea is this is a beautiful place for music, but it is also a place where you can get out and enjoy the outdoors," said Anne Beach, Executive Director of the Seeley Lake Community Foundation which took over organization as the title sponsor of the event.

Beach said the Foundation took on the festival in the fall, and has pretty much been working nonstop since then.

"The board of directors thought that this town really came alive with the music festival last year," she said.

After months of work, it's down to the wire for Beach, Stout and the other organizers. Last minute calls for volunteers have gone out, coordination of camping sites is in full swing and the festival grounds are being outfitted to host the anticipated 2,500+ attendees.

That's the other big change this year-the festival has moved a mile south of town to the field between Cory's Valley Market and the golf course.

The new venue is larger-the festival site alone is 20 acres-and has more room for parking. Camping sites exist on the festival grounds and the surrounding area which will help turn the festival into a more self-sustained area.

"I like the new location better, but the school was definitely easier with everything being there," said Stout, who caught some criticism for hosting the music festival-and associated alcohol sales-on school grounds.

Beach said attendees will be encouraged to park at the festival grounds and then walk, bike or take the shuttle into town. With three of the stages plus all the after parties taking place in town, there will be a good deal of human traffic flowing up and down Highway 83.

The after parties, the mid-day jam session and of course the "Wilderness Saloon" and Main Stage are the real draws of the festival. Bands will play at the Filling Station, Moose River Bar and Grill, Lindey's Prime Steak House and Double Arrow Lodge over the course of the festival.

Stout gathered an eclectic mix of bands from twelve different states for this year's line up.

"How fun would it be to bring in music that would appeal to all different [ages, people, tastes]," he said about his initial thought. "At least one or two bands that people from 12 to 90 would find interesting."

This year bands include Montana locals Matt Strachan and the Hoot Owls from Helena, Chad Okrusch and Sean Eamon from Butte and Missoula's Cold Hard Cash Show, alongside headliners like Rhode Island blues-infused rock band Deer Tick, Boston based Ballroom Thieves and Las Vegas natives Status the Band-which played the festival last year-to name just a few. (For a full music preview see below and next page)

The four-day festival kicks off Thursday, July 13.

"Three years ago this was all just kind of a dream and we pulled it off last year and here we are in year two," said Stout. "I'm looking forward to... when I'm sitting out there in the field and we got a couple stages up and music playing... just seeing everybody enjoying themselves and having fun and getting out and seeing what Seeley has to offer."


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