Born and raised in Montana where the cowboy spirit is still alive, the three brothers, John, Joe, and Marty realized a desire to bring back the good old western music from the days of Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, and the silver screen cowboys. For eight years they’ve been working on their harmony trying to simulate the sound and appearance of the Western Music groups of that time. They played for the first time for a public audience in 2013, and have since been playing regularly at the Pollard Hotel in Red Lodge. With two guitars, an upright bass, and three part western harmony, their traditional sound has been compared to The Sons of the Pioneers and Marty Robbins. They are now currently members of the Western Music association.
In 1997, a small group of physicians began gathering regularly to play music and relax. Bob Snider, Mac McClave, and Doug Ezell would play and sing old folk tunes and rock standards. After a while, they added two more doctors: Hal Forseth and Jim Epler. They had a great time and began to sound almost good. Paula McClave joined. Then for Christmas, 1999, their shifty wives booked them a gig! They panicked! They practiced! A lot!! They came up with a name. The MidLife Chryslers were born!
Epler retired from the band and late in 2000, Mark Moak joined as drummer. Just as they were getting going, the death of Bob Snider in March 2001 dealt them a major setback. After a few months off, however, the music and the spirit of Bob called them back and the Chryslers re-formed. With the additions of Russ Harvey and Cathy Hansen Brown, the MidLife Chryslers took another form.
In 2006, Mac and Paula left the band; Hal moved over to bass and Scott Millikan came on to share lead guitar with Russ. Then Cathy departed, and in April 2007, Holly Malloy Hanson joined the Chryslers as lead female vocalist. In 2008, four horn players joined the band, Laurel Linde on saxophone, Steve Patton on trombone, along with Laury Sealy and Kevin McBride on trumpets. Pianist/singer/songwriter Chris Smith is a newer addition to the Chryslers and is their lead male vocalist.
Like the wide-open expanses of his Montana home, Chris finds inspiration in all directions. “I can never predict where a song will come from or what I’ll write about… the one constant for me seems to be a sense of revelation and hope, even after a struggle or period of despair.”
Chris is best known for being one half of the critically acclaimed acoustic duo Storyhill (signed to Red House Record Label) whose career spans 25 years, 15 albums, national tours and appearances at major folk festivals and premier venues such as Garrison Keiller’s A Prairie Home Companion and the APHC Cruise (2015 and 2012).
With the duo currently on an open-ended hiatus Chris has turned his attention to producing for other singer/songwriters at his studio Basecamp Recording, playing select shows, and now releasing new solo music.
“Part of me loves the simplicity and freedom of a single voice with a song… some songs are meant for that.”
If You Knew All Along is his first self-produced ep.
Since 2013, Laney Lou and the Bird Dogs have been forging a fresh and energetic sound in the northwest music scene. Their live show is highlighted by unbridled energy and punctuated by songs performed with fervor and rock ‘n’ roll swagger. The Bird Dogs push the envelope of what a traditional string band is generally described as by fusing folk songs with country, pop, and rock. They’ve been hitting the road hard for the last four years, sharing stages with the likes of Keb Mo’, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Corb Lund, Hayes Carll, The Mavericks, Wynonna Judd, Mark Chesnutt, Blitzen Trapper, The Lil’ Smokies, Lewi Longmire and many more. The Bird Dogs released a live self-titled studio album in 2016, recorded at Basecamp Studio in Bozeman. Their follow-up album, titled The Vigilante Session, was recorded live at a forest service cabin in the Tobacco Root mountains.
Born under the big sky in Bozeman, Montana, Laney Lou and the Bird Dogs consist of Matt Demarais on vocals/banjo, Ethan Demarais on bass, Lena (Laney) Schiffer on vocals/guitar, Brian Kassay on fiddle/mandolin, and Josh Moore on vocals/guitar.
Lysa, the Head of the Musical Theatre program, is a native of Montana and a founding member of Venture Theatre in Billings, Montana. Lysa has an extensive resume as an accomplished vocalist, musical theatre, cabaret performer, a director, choreographer, actress and improv performer.
Lysa completed her MFA in Acting/Directing in 2010 at California State University Long Beach. From 2010 – 2012, she was invited to remain at Cal State as Adjunct Faculty and an active member in the acting ensemble of California Repertory. She was recognized for both Outstanding Contribution to the Arts and Distinguished Creative Work during her tenure. She also served as part-time faculty at Orange County High School for the Arts in Santa Ana and as the Education Coordinator at the Long Beach Playhouse.
During her fifteen years nurturing Venture Theatre, her passion was Theatre Education. As the Education Coordinator, Lysa created the curriculum and basis for Venture’s strong educational focus and launched Venture into schools. Her final year with Venture was as Artistic Director. Lysa was recognized in 2004 as one of forty people in Billings and the surrounding area as making significant contributions in their particular field.