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by JENNA CEDERBERG

The craft brews will be flowing and a diverse set of acts will be entertaining audiences throughout the summer during the Big Sky Brewing Co.’s summer concert series.

The outdoor amphitheater behind the brewery just west of Missoula will host at least seven concerts this year – the most ever for a venue that’s continued to attract popular acts each summer.

Barenaked Ladies with Ben Folds Five and Guster kick offed the season June 30.

“This is our third season, these guys that are playing (Big Sky) are all playing the really big venues in really big markets,” said Mark Dinerstein, senior talent buyer for Knitting Factory Presents.

Knitting Factory is the exclusive event producer for Big Sky’s venue. The agency has been able to bring a handful of national acts to Big Sky since it began offering concerts three years ago and is building on that momentum this season.

“As a venue matures and develops, we as concert producers want to diversify,” Dinerstein said. “The first years there were fewer concerts and it was pretty straightforward.”

This year, the Barenaked Ladies concert will be followed by concerts from Widespread Panic on July 9, Slightly Stoopid on July 26, country singer Kip Moore on July 30, Cake on Aug. 3, the Infamous Stringdusters on Aug. 10 and Rebelution: The Good Vibes on Aug. 13.

“I have been working to get Cake specifically for Missoula, it’s one I’ve been chasing,” Dinerstein said. “It’s going to be a really fun show. It’s going to sell out. It’s an evening with Cake, so there will be a little more music from them where headliners usually only play for an hour and half.”

Country upstart Kip Moore will be another big draw because of the high demand for country in Montana, Dinerstein said.

Knitting Factory has proved the brewery is a great place to play. It’s also a great place to watch a
concert, said Trinda Rieck, sales and events coordinator for Big Sky.

“There’s not really a bad a seat in the house,” Rieck said of the concert area, which can hold roughly 3,200 people. “Depending on what type of music it is, you can go and set your blanket out and enjoy. I think there’s a part of it that’s just fun to watch a concert at a brewery.”

Big Sky’s venue was ranked in the top 100 outdoor amphitheaters according to a 2011 Pollstar report of worldwide ticket sales, Rieck said.

Paramount for Big Sky is that proceeds from beer sold at the concerts will once again benefit two local nonprofits, the Youth Homes and I Ride for Tanner.

Big Sky raised more than $180,000 for local nonprofits through its concert giving program that allows organizations to purchase beer from the brewery and sell it at each concert.

The I Ride for Tanner organization is working to build a BMX biking park in honor
of Tanner Olson, a 14-year-old who was killed in a car accident in 2011.

Youth Homes will use the money to help rebuild its Tom Roy Youth Guidance Home.

Both nonprofits received funds from Big Sky last year.

“It’s great having people come out here and putting the brewery on display, but at the end of the day we’re hoping to rise $40,000 for each outfit,” Rieck said.

If the concerts already on the list aren’t enticing enough, Dinerstein said Knitting Factory is continuing to explore opportunities to add shows to the September calendar.

“We might have something else,” he said. “We’re working on it but it’s not necessarily finished.”

Concert and ticket information can be found at bigskybrew.com/concerts.

Ticket prices range from $25 to $50 depending on the concert.

The schedule for the series is as follows:
• Slightly Stoopid, Atmosphere, July 26, 6:30 p.m.,  $35, $95 for VIP section.
• Kip Moore, July 30, 7 p.m., $25
• Cake, Aug. 3, 8 p.m., $35
• The Infamous Stringdusters, Aug. 10, 5:30 p.m., $26
• Rebelution: The Good Vibes Summer Tour,  Aug. 13, 6 p.m., $30