Wednesday, August 14, 2013


Missoula, Montana is becoming more of a place, and less of a "sort of," I think. The classic Missoula shirt for years was a sort of over-sized, Beefy T with the phrase "A Place. Sort Of" printed on it. Rockin' Rudy's, (a shop here) still sells them, we think. It was kind of the default Rudy's shirt, and you still can probably see an average of one a day if you keep your eyes peeled.

What exactly "A Place. Sort Of." really meant was always kind of mysterious to me. I guess I primarily took it to be a comment on the transience of Missoula, Montana. An oversize university town with a rotating door at one end and a brand new cast of characters every 3-5 years. It's hard not to get a little shell-shocked as a person in your twenties here. You get to know some cool folks and then they invariably head to somewhere with more economic opportunity, or more places to play tunes within a half days drive if they're musical. It's just they way of the place. But more and more, we seem to have a scene here that generates some good bands pretty regularly, some bands leave town and tour, and those bands become new bands. And bands stick around long enough to put out a couple good recordings.

Boys are a week-of announcement for Total Fest, and as our final, and a local it's obviously one we're pretty excited to make. What can you say, exactly? Boys are a rock and roll band, they hit the road and get out of town, play tightly and have recorded three separate records, all up here on their Bandcamp. They recorded with Chris Bauman at his Black National studio here, and the result's pretty rad. It's in the spirit of the kind of San Fran-2008 vibe of your John Dwyers/Ty Segalls and Mike Cronins lay down. Be there when things start up on day two of Total Fest this year. Boys play the Palace.

Monday, August 12, 2013


Folks are aware that Total Fest is an all ages deal and that's possible because businesses like Biga Pizza, Big Dipper, Betty's Divine, Zombie Tools, Shakespeare and Company, and Black Coffee Roasting Company and KettleHouse, Piece of Mind, The Missoula Independent, Ear Candy and Philly West (etc. etc.!) all actually break out their checkbooks and underwrite a fair amount of the costs of running this thing. Certainly, one has choices when it comes to clothing/feeding oneself, choosing a cup or bag of coffee, picking a katana, grabbing a beer or a record, newspaper, etc. 

And may we be so bold as to suggest that as a Total Fest show-goer, 1) you're the beneficiary of a pretty solid heap of Missoula-flavored community support; and 2) you can show your support by showing our supporters your support in return.

Frankly, you'll be getting better pizza/beer/coffee/clothes/cheez-steaks/books/katanas in the process, and you'll be showing some appreciation for the killer local businesses that make Total Fest all-ages, and possible at all. Each Total Fest poster lists the businesses that help Total Fest happen, so if you're from here or not, and like what Total Fest is/does, please vote with your wallet!

Friday, August 9, 2013


Shahs. We call them ours. True Shahs is a Minneapolis transplant, but in a town as transient as Missoula, when we see the first tendrils and nodes begin go form, we lay claim. Formed in 2005 as a solo project by Tom Helgerson, Shahs has morphed into an ensemble of insanely talented musicians. Currently, Shahs is Tom, Colin Johnson, Nick Ryan, and Javier Ryan.

It's hard for me to encapsulate Shahs in a simple turn of phrase. A few quick hits on the interwebs reveal wonderful words like "tropicalia," but, as with all things, it's a nice attempt but falls short. For me, Shahs is like peering behind the curtain and witnessing a million architects assemble something out of the primordial mass. Shahs mines it, breaks it down, processes it, and erects it.

Sort of like the doozers in Fraggle Rock. Perpetually building and rebuilding, looping and connecting a variety of a machine and vocal beats, stabilized with layers of reverb, delay and distortion. Mix in the smoothness of Johnson and the Ryans (no relation) and things get silky real quick.

Are we the Fraggles? Probably not, and I'd rather leave the metaphor right at the Doozers.

It's been awesome to witness Shahs reconfigure its line-up since Tom moved to Missoula a few years ago (late 2009? early 2010?). There's an immediacy to the music, something that grabs you, but also pleasingly leads you through new territory. It's complex and layered, teetering on the brink of abstraction. All in all, Shahs live sets are the rare instance when you witness compositions. It's a strange time-lapse of the life of the cosmos (or something) ... The music expands, contracts, deconstructs itself, reconfigures itself, lassos nuances from the margins, inverts time ... you know, it's breezy cubism, an existential breakfast with an irresistible beat. Catch them on Friday at Freecycles.

Friday, August 2, 2013


If you’re a noted guitar guru like myself (name withheld), chances are you care as much about the tone your cherry axe pumps through your amp as you do your first born child or the slammin’ hot wings down at Famous Dave’s. Serious chops demand serious gear, and Rattlesnake Cables are about as serious as being face to face with one of their namesake’s. Believe you me, these cables are the cream of the crop, and they git-r-done. There ain’t nothin’ more beautiful than a tone to match that little bit o’ Texas Fire Spit on the tips of yer phalanges as they race up and down the fretboard, screaming some spicy leads over a real deal, no malarkey, authentic blues band. This here is God’s work. 

Alright, let’s cut the crap. Disregard my unfortunate slip in character, and allow me to reiterate the most important part of that previous paragraph: Rattlesnake Cables are the jam. Not to devolve into band-bro nonsense, but the difference in quality between a Rattlesnake and your average unnamed-corporate-guitar-cable-manufacturer is stark the minute you plug one in. Ask anyone in Missoula who uses them--VTO, Vera, Stellarondo, Skin Flowers, The Magpies, Hasslers, Total Combined Weight, Bacon & Egg, to name a few--and they’ll agree that the custom, boutique cables Hank Donovan makes are just about, if not, the best sounding and well constructed instrument cables they’ve ever used. And being the generous supporter of Total Fest that Hank is, he’s offering a special deal today through August 19th. I’ll let Hank himself fill you in on the deets:

For Total Fest, I wanted to offer a bro rate. All of my cables are custom built to order, so pricing depends on what the customer wants, etc. My 'bro' rate is what I charge my friends ... and anyone at Total Fest is a friend of mine. So from when this blog posts goes live to 8/19, enter the code TOTALFEST12 in the 'Discount Code' field on the 'build' form at Once I receive the build request, I'll be able to give you an estimate.

You heard the man! Start dreaming all those wild cable dreams snaking around your head, click the link above, and let your fingers do the talking. Thanks again, Rattlesnake Cable Company!