A guide of the shows coming up in Missoula in the next week.
Nate Meng and the Stolen Sea
(Friday-Saturday, May 31-June 1)
This chamber folk group from Madison, Wisconsin, counts as a member artist John Hitchcock, who has a new exhibition at the Missoula Art Museum. The group will play on a custom performance area right in a MAM gallery on Friday, May 31, during Art Swing. Admission is $10 for nonmembers, and it runs from 5-8 p.m.
The following night, the group will be over at the ZACC Below, playing with Oh, Rose and Hannah Edlen. The event will also have live screen-printing, Hitchcock's specialty. Cover is $5, all ages, doors at 7:30 p.m. and the show starts at 8.
Bela Fleck and the Flecktones
(Saturday, June 1)
The banjo virtuoso has reunited an older version of his band, with Roy "Futureman" Wooten, brother of bass phenom Victor Wooten, and harmonica player/pianist Howard Levy. "Futureman" is handling percussion, with his custom synthesizer "Drumitar," that looks something like a keytar but for drums. Regardless of how you want to describe it, he can play it quite fast in tandem with his sibling and Fleck.
Doors open at 7 p.m. and the show starts at 8. Tickets are $35-$45, available at logjampresents.com or the Top Hat box office.
Voncommon Fur Ball
(Saturday, June 1)
The art collective's annual prom fundraiser features four Missoula bands, as well as a 50/50 raffle, Montucky Cold Snacks and the chance to dress up as furry as you like.
Hip-hop group Brute Finesse bring their retro funk sound, Powerplant add in some free-jazz improv, Wailing Aaron Jennings will bring at least one cool old guitar and Go Hibiki will rock the joint.
Check out the full preview in the Missoulian.
Free admission, proceeds from drinks and raffle go to Voncommon. Starts at 5 p.m.
Joe Russo’s Almost Dead
(Sunday, June 2)
Huh, the drummer gets top billing in this one. The Grateful Dead’s drummer was Pigpen right? Nope, he played keyboards. Guess it’s Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart, separately or together.
I gotta say, the most Grateful Dead I’ve ever listened to was while reporting a story on their show at the Adams Fieldhouse in ’74 and I only made it halfway through, so I’m not exactly an expert.
But Russo — a longtime Dead acolyte who’s played with Phil Lesh and Bob Weir at different points in his career — is a regular topic over on the Dead.net message boards, praised for his skill and jam intuition, the only real complaint being that he doesn’t match the dual-drum tenacity of the Kreutzmann and Hart years.
Deadhead-endorsed, all you really need to know.
Show at the KettleHouse Amphitheater. Tickets are $39.50-44.50 in advance. Doors at 6 p.m. Show at 7:30 p.m.
(Sunday, June 2)
The guys with the mannequin legs make it to Missoula. As some of the very earliest progenitors of '80s-styled electro funk in the mid-aughts, Chromeo are sort of important in these days of throwback sounds in pop. Technically, they were doing the faux-Prince thing before it was cool.
Neil Frances opens at The Wilma. Tickets are $30 in advance and $35 at the door. Doors at 7 p.m. Show at 8 p.m.
(Monday, June 3)
It’s British guys singing vaguely generic indie-folk rock with some synth touches and lyrics about not being able to communicate with someone you’re losing touch with. Bear’s Den do that thing where the vocals are whisper-sung all the time, which has gotta save the vocal cords throughout the tour, man.
Bear’s Den mulitinstrumentalist Kevin Jones helped found Communion Records with Ben Lovett from Mumford and Sons. The label has also worked with Nathaniel Rateliff and Michael Kiwanuka, so not all bad, but there does seem to be a lot of similarity between the Bears and Mumford’s newest output Delta, which also traded folky leanings for a paperweight arena rock sound.
Wilderado open at the Top Hat. Tickets are $20. Doors at 7:30 p.m. Show at 8 p.m.
(Monday, June 3)
Not Steely Dan, but close! Or, every Dead fan’s favorite non-jam band. Little Feat combined country-rock, funk, jazz and soul into their own '70s fusion that side-eyed the Dan’s studio perfectionism and became an accomplished live act in their own right, led by Lowell George’s guitar playing and vocals, which, sardonic tone aside, have Donald Fagen’s beat by a country mile.
If Steely Dan represented all that was clinical, precise and overproduced about '70s rock music, Little Feat is lean warm, funky and loose with considerable talent to match.
This iteration of the band features nearly original members Paul Barrer, Sam Clayton and Kenny Gradney, as well as original keyboard player Bill Payne with lead guitarist Fred Tackett (around since the '90s) and drummer Gabe Ford.
Mike Beck opens at The Wilma. Tickets are $45-55. Doors at 7 p.m. Show at 8 p.m.
State Champion and Worst Feelings
(Tuesday, June 4)
State Champion, a Louisville, Kentucky group, merge traditional music with an indie-rock sensibility that they jokingly refer to as "beard rock."
The group will appeal to fans of songwriters like Will Oldham or Bill Callahan, who work in traditional genres yet their songs are far more idiosyncratic once you start digging into the lyrics. And there any many lyrics to dig into. The opener on their last record, "My Over, My Under," stretches out to nearly 8 minutes of creative, at times free-associative, writing.
The group has been featured on NPR, Pitchfork and No Depression, among other outlets. They also profess to love DIY venues. They're sharing a bill with local act Worst Feelings, who likewise have a refreshing style of traditional rock, at Western Cider, which has a scenic courtyard complete with a stage. Cover is $5. The show runs from 7:30-10 p.m.