Lil Smokies on YouTube

Here’s a nice clip of Li’l Smokies.

You may recognize their guest fiddler former MRBA member, Rachael Wogsland (Carla Green, the bass player’s, daughter).  Rachael was sitting in with them while home on Christmas break.

Be sure and come out to hear these guys at our first concert next Friday!  We need your support, by attending, to make our concert series a success.

Pinegrass, a bluegrass concert Nov 14, Kalispell, MT

Pinegrass, a bluegrass band, in concert, Kalispell, MT on November 14, 2009.

Music starts at 7:30 pm.

Performance is at the KM Theater. See below for ticket information.

KM Theater (map)

40 Second Street East
Kalispell, Mt 59901
Pinegrass in concert, KM Theatre in Kalispell, Sat Nov. 14

Pinegrass in concert, KM Theatre in Kalispell, Sat Nov. 14

$15 tickets are available at

For more information, email band member, Chad Fadely.

MRBA Newsletter Vol 12 Issue 3 (May-Jun 2009)

MRBA Newsletter Vol 11 Issue 3 (May-Jun 2009)

MRBA Newsletter Vol 11 Issue 3 (May-Jun 2009)

MRBA Spring Festival 2009

2009 MRBA Spring Festival in Stevensville

2009 MRBA Spring Festival in Stevensville

MRBA Spring Festival
April 18, 2009
Noon – 10:30pm
Stevensville High School
Stevensville, MT
Admission $5

There are a couple of ways that you can help out.  Either bring a dessert dish or call Mike & Tari Conroy to volunteer to help at the festival.  (406) 821-3777.

Following the show will head over to the American Legion to  jamg late into the night and where overnight parking will be available.  Sunday morning, at 10am, there’s free biscuits and gravy for everyone before they head home.  As in years past, people who would like to help by bringing food to the festival should bring desserts.

DIRECTIONS to the American Legion (also called the Burnt Fork School)
Drive south from the front of the Stevensville High School
At the FIRST stop sign
turn LEFT
Follow that road up Burnt Fork 3 MILES
The American Legion is on the LEFT

Google Maps from High School to American Legion

Google Maps from High School to American Legion

MRBA Newsletter Vol 12 Issue 2 (Mar-Apr 2009)

MRBA Newsletter Vol 11 Issue 2 (Mar-Apr 2009)

MRBA Newsletter Vol 11 Issue 2 (Mar-Apr 2009)

Jack Mauer’s blog for Wapiti Waters

Here’s a post from Sept 20, 2008 on MRBA member, Jack Mauer’s, blog for his business Wapiti Waters:

A Bluegrass Band, Pinegrass – One of Jack’s other hats

View 2007 Bitterroot Bluegrass Festival Album
Jack Mauer and his dobro at the 2007 Bitterroot Bluegrass Festival in Hamilton, MTToday Jack is performing at a wedding in Belgrade, MT with his band, Pinegrass. It is a welcome break in the fly fishing guiding season when he can play music in this kind of venue. Here is a slide show from a wedding in Missoula, MT in September of last year.

View Wedding in Missoula Album

Pinegrass starts at 9 pm on Tuesday, Jan. 6

We’d love it if you’d all come down and mention to Steve Garr how much you like the new hours!

Here’s the article from the Entertainer, in case you missed it.

Forever bluegrass
By JOE NICKELL – Like the seasons that govern the

Pinegrass at the Tophat - John Joyner, fiddle; Ted Lowe, Mandolin; Rick Ryan, Bass; Jack Mauer, banjo

Pinegrass at the Tophat - John Joyner, fiddle; Ted Lowe, Mandolin; Rick Ryan, Bass; Jack Mauer, banjo

growth of all good things in nature, bluegrass music is forever dying away and resprouting anew. In the 1950s, the energetic sounds of Appalachia were spreading far and wide in American culture, until rock ’n’ roll appeared and diverted everyone’s attention.In the late 1960s, folk musicians like Peter, Paul and Mary and Pete Seeger drew attention back to roots music, leading many young fans to discover bluegrass anew.

Further revivals, minor and major, turned the ears of new listeners back to that high, lonesome sound several times over the subsequent decades – most notably at the turn of the new millennium, when the Coen brothers’ film, “O Brother Where Art Thou,” provided the most surprising breakthrough soundtrack album in a generation.

The guys of local bluegrass band Pinegrass can’t claim to have witnessed all of those cycles. Only most of them. With 20 years of weekly performances at the Top Hat under their belts, the band now stands as Missoula’s unlikely elder statesmen of the stage.

If you’ve never heard of the band, take heart. You won’t see a Pinegrass T-shirt on the back of one of your friends, nor will you hear a recording of the band on the radio. The band doesn’t have its own Web site or even a mySpace page. If you don’t hang in or around the Top Hat, there’s almost no chance you’ve ever heard the band.

Despite having performed publicly over 1,000 times, the band hasn’t ever bothered to produce any merchandise or push its name outside its weekly Tuesday night performances.

“We’re sort of spoiled I guess,” says 54-year old bassist Rick Ryan. “I’ve become exceedingly lazy about trying to push things, because all I have to do to satisfy my musical itch is to show up on Tuesday night and play with these guys.”

Actually, it’s hard to call a musician who has played once a week for two decades “lazy.” But then, Ryan is one of the last people to claim any special status for the band he helped form back in the late 1980s. In fact, looking back, he almost seems to feel bad about the way that the band formed in the first place.

The story of Pinegrass actually dates back to the late ’70s, when bluegrass bands such as Poor Monroe, the Great Northern Bluegrass Band (of which Ryan was a member), and Finley Creek frequented stages around western Montana. Over time, the members of those groups became the core of an increasingly tight-knit community of pickers and fans, who began gathering every Wednesday at a local instrument store called String Instrument Division or at the house of one of the musicians to play together in impromptu picking circles.

“Anybody could show up, and everybody got to play,” recalls Ryan fondly.

Over the years, some unexpected guests showed up, including nationally respected musicians such as Tim O’Brien, Mark Schatz, members of the Del McCourey Band, and three members from the David Grisman Quartet, who hung around one night until 3:30 in the morning. Those memorable nights helped cement a core group of musical friends, who kept their picking-circles going year-round.

Whenever someone heard about a paying gig, impromptu bands would form out of whomever was available for one-off performances under a variety of names. Practices weren’t really needed, since everybody knew the tunes and knew each other.

One day, musician Tim Ishler was approached by Steve Garr, who had recently bought the Top Hat Lounge, with a proposal for a weekly bluegrass night. One thing led to another, and the picking circle ultimately moved to the Top Hat.

Ryan, for one, didn’t like the idea.

“I boycotted it for a while, because I thought it was going to spoil this great thing we had going,” says Ryan. “But after a couple of months of not playing at all, I realized I had to give in. And then pretty soon, what I feared would happen happened: An actual band coalesced out of the parts.”

That band was Pinegrass, named after a real type of grass common to Montana. In the early days, the band consisted of Ryan on bass, John Joyner on fiddle, Jack Mauer on banjo and dobro, Bill Neaves on mandolin, and Richie Reinholdt and Britt Smith on guitar. Neaves has since been replaced by Chad Fadley; guitarist Ted Lowe replaced Reinholdt and Smith two and a half years ago.

The band built its repertoire on a foundation of classic cover songs from across the range of classic bluegrass, country, and other styles.

“We’ve always been pretty much a cover band, which is part of the reason we haven’t recorded an album,” says John Joyner, who along with Ryan and Mauer remains from the band’s original lineup.

After a few years performing every Wednesday night, the band moved to Tuesdays, where it has remained a staple of the scene ever since. Ryan notes that the band has played during election-night celebrations for two Clinton victories, two Bush victories, and an Obama victory.

John Joyner says the key to the band’s longevity, in a way, is the very looseness by which it came together.

“The thing that we do that not a lot of bluegrass bands do is that we play with abandon,” says Joyner. “I get the biggest thrill from belting it out and going for it, and that’s been the hallmark of every player in this band.”

Ted Lowe says listening to the band is “like watching Evel Knievel try to jump a canyon.

“We have this joke that we say to each other: ‘I could almost hear what you were trying to do there’,” says Lowe. “There is this carefree thing about the way we approach playing that keeps it fun and interesting every week.”

“Everybody that has ever played in Pinegrass has an affection for that rawness,” adds Ryan. “Not everyone in the bluegrass world appreciates that.”

Indeed, the very characteristic that defines Pinegrass is probably the same reason the band hasn’t made a bigger mark in the broader bluegrass scene. Despite the fact that bluegrass music originated out of back-porch jam-sessions and participatory music circles among nonprofessional players in Appalachia, few musical idioms are as burdened by tradition and an obsession with perfection as bluegrass is today.

So when players of that ilk find out that this ragtag band of grinning pickers has managed to maintain a weekly, paying gig for 20 years, most are pretty jealous, says Lowe.

“I think we have to tip our hats to Steve (Garr), because finding a venue to play – much less one that pays – is huge,” says Lowe. “If we didn’t have the Top Hat, it’d be really hard to keep it going. We marvel at it sometimes. We’re really lucky.”

As to future plans, the band has actually been working, on and off, on a CD recording, though no firm release date is set. Beginning in January, the band plans to bump up its Tuesday night start time to 9 p.m., in hopes that the earlier hour, combined with the club’s new nighttime nonsmoking policy, will encourage some of the older fans to come out to hear.

Other than that, the guys of Pinegrass just hope to keep this good thing going.

“For me it’s the simple act of getting together once a week and playing music that I enjoy, with people that I enjoy,” says Ryan. “As long as I can scratch that itch, I’m a happy guy.”

Just who is this Mr. Ba?

Here’s another MRBA member, Ted Lowe, signin’ up. 
Pinegrass at the Tophat

Pinegrass at the Tophat

Well, Pinegrass finally got in the paper, and we weren’t in the Irish sports section this time!  Beginning January 9th, we’ll be starting at a new time of 9 pm, so come on down and tell Mr. Garr you like the earlier time;  We sure will!


I hope to see a lot of you out and about on First Night.  Richie Reinhardt, Bill Neaves and I will be playing at The Break Espresso at 7. 

Over ‘n out,


Spring Festival 2008

Saturday, April 12, 2008 marked our 9th year of getting together in the spring to perform. This years lineup:

2008 Festival Line-up

12:00-12:30 Kids In Bluegrass
12:35-1:05 Chester Rudyard And Mullan Road
1:10-1:40 Blue To The Bone
1:45-2:15 Three Rivers Bluegrass
2:20-2:50 Bill And Verna Molenda And Friends
2:55-3:25 Leftover Biscuits
3:30-4:00 The Accousticals
4:05-4:35 Wise River Mercantile
4:40-5:10 The WheelWrights
5:15-5:45 Mike And Tari Conroy And Friends
5:50-6:20 Pinegrass
6:25-6:55 Too Hot Too Handle
7:00-7:30 New South Fork
7:35-8:05 Will Williams And Gravel Road
8:10-8:40 Darby Sireens
8:45-9:15 Gravely Mountain Boys
9:20-9:50 Ramblin‘ Rose
9:55-10:25 Black Mountain
10:30-11:00 Greg Boyd and Friends

All of the bands sounded great this year. We just keep getting better year after year.

We all headed over to the American Legion and jammed together into the wee hours of Sunday morning. Lots of folks stayed over and camped there. The jamming was great.

Here’s a little snipet of Rebecca in the kitchen that night (for some reason my camera doesn’t seem to pick up the bass, sorry)