Here’s a nice article about Mike and Tari Conroy, written by Will Moss at the Ravalli Republic circa spring 2009.  Visit the Ravalli Republic Online to read reader comments on the story. 

Home grown music returns
by WILL MOSS – Ravalli Republic

Mike & Tari Conroy

Mike & Tari Conroy

STEVENSVILLE – Home grown music at its finest is flat-picking its way into the Bitterroot this month, with the return of the Montana Rockies Bluegrass Association Oldtime Bluegrass Festival.

The festival will be held Saturday, April 18 in the Stevensville High School multi-purpose room. The music starts at noon and continues until 10:30 p.m.

Organized by the local bluegrass duo Mike and Tari Conroy of Conner, this year’s get together marks the festival’s 10th anniversary.

We’ve been in bluegrass a long time,” said Mike. “About 10 years ago we thought it would be fun to get together some of our friends – and everybody was real excited about doing it – so 10 years now we’ve been doing it.

The musicians like it so much that, every year I put out an e-mail in the spring saying it’s time to sign up bands, and within 24-hours I’ve got 18 bands signed up …. To come and play for free, that’s phenomenal.

This year’s line-up features bands from as far away as Missoula, Great Falls, Idaho Falls, Grangeville and Salmon including the bands Pinegrass, Three Rivers Bluegrass, the Salmon Valley Stringband, the Black Mtn. Boys, Ramblin’ Rose, Spring Thaw, the Accousticals, Uncle Bacca Juice and many more. Organizers Mike and Tari Conroy will perform as well.

We run 18 bands in 10 hours, so each band does a half-hour set. The first couple years it was kind of rough, but now we’ve got this big clock that we set on the stage - said Mike
It’s just like clockwork.

The Conroys, who focus their repertoire on old, traditional tunes such as “I’ll Fly Away” and “Bury Me Beneath the Willow,” expect that folks will enjoy the range of bluegrass music on display at the festival.

We like the old-time bluegrass the best. To me, it’s really primal. It’s just got this old, primal mountain sound. I guess that’s what drew us into it - said Mike.

For older people, a lot of them hear songs that they haven’t heard since they were a kid, and it’s pretty cool to see that hit somebody’s face when they go ‘Oh! I remember that song,’ and see people singing with you,

Tari added - and at this festival you get [everything] from ours which is as old as we can play to some of the newer stuff and everything in between …. It’s good, clean, family kind of entertainment, so that’s nice.

The festival functions as the major annual fund raiser for the MRBA, which supports itself mainly through member dues.

Bluegrass is a real home grown music - said Mike.
It’s the kind of music that you’d sit around the house and play, which is what all these guys do. So, if you’re interested in, you know, banjo, guitar, fiddle, mandolin and that kind of stuff, this would be the place to come and see what it’s all about.

Admission for the Oldtime Bluegrass Festival is $3 for MRBA members, $5 for non-members and free for children under 12 accompanied by an adult.

Later this summer, the Conroys will present a three-day festival at The Thomas Ranch south of Hamilton.

The HardTimes Bluegrass Festival will take place July 24-26 and will feature bands from Montana, Oregon, Washington, Wyoming and Idaho. On-site camping will be available.

For more information on these upcoming events, contact Mike and Tari Conroy at (406) 821-3777 or visit www.mtbluegrass.com.

Reporter Will Moss can be reached at 363-3300 or wmoss@ravallirepublic.com.

2 thoughts on “Ravalli

  1. Very nice article. Pinegrass played in Kalispell this weekend and after the gig, the topic of conversation was Montana Rockies Bluegrass Association Oldtime Bluegrass Festival and Mike and Tari. Pinegrass is looking forward to the Old Time Bluegrass Festival and all your musical gatherings. Thanks Mike and Tari. You guys might like the old music, but you are tireless and very young at heart!

  2. I had a chance to meet Mike and Tari at a pickin party last winter while visiting my sister in Missoula. They are really fun people – and I hope to be able to make it to their festival this summer – all the way over them big rocky mountains from the big city of seattle.

    Keep up the good work guys

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