11 Montana Musical Events to Look Forward to this Summer

Patrick Greeley

Summer is finally upon us! Music lovers will have several chances to indulge in the awe-inspiring experience of  live music this summer at an array of Montana music festivals. Here’s a list of 11 upcoming musical events to look forward to this summer, ranging from Bozeman, Missoula, and Billings, ultimately offering Montanans multiple chances to rock out this summer.

Music in the Mountains
June 21-August 30 - Big Sky

In the past several years, Music in the Mountains has provided mesmerizing performances from up-and-coming artists, ranging from The Lil’ Smokies, Blitzen Trapper, and Jason Isbel. Put on by the Art Council of Big Sky, Music in the Mountains hopes to continue their past success with another summer of incredible live acts, starting on June 21. The outdoor concert experience is free for all attendees, placing those in attendance in a pleasurable setting under the beauty of the starlit sky, and will feature some local Montana Bands, while also booking more well-established artists. Music in the Mountains will be an ongoing occurrence this summer, free of charge, starting at 6 p.m. every Thursday.

Bob Marshall Music Festival
June 28-July 1 - Seeley Lake

The 3rd annual Bob Marshall Music Festival will consist of three days of live music at the end of June, featuring a variety of bands ranging from The Brother Comatose, The Social Animals, and The Waiting. Outside of the musical acts that weekend, the festival will also put on several activities, including group hikes, mountain bike rides, and the Seeley 50K Running Race at 6 a.m. that Saturday morning, leaving little moments of dullness, if any. Located 50 miles from Missoula and 100 miles from Helena, the Bob Marshall Music Festival will offer to those in attendance the option of camping, compiled with an assortment of basic hygiene necessities for a comfortable outdoor camping experience. Tickets are currently on sale for $40, with full access to the weekend of music.

Music on Main
June 28-August 17 - Bozeman

Starting June 28th, Downtown Bozeman will host its 17th annual Music on Main summer concert series, hosting live music every Thursday until August 17th. Music on Main will be free for Bozeman residents throughout the summer, consisting of a wide range of live performances, such as The Clintons, Down North, and The Whitewater Ramble. The music is expected to start around 7 p.m. every Thursday following June 28, and while the live acts are a central theme to Music on Main, the Thursday extravaganza provides an atmosphere for a much larger demographic, including a numerous amount of local food trucks, and a kid-friendly environment in the Coca Cola “Kid’s Zone,” providing kids with bouncy houses, hula-hooping, and much more.

Magic City Blues
August 2-4 - Billings

The Magic City Blues Music Festival is celebrating its sixteenth summer rejoicing the musical genre of Blues in downtown Billings. The lineup boasts a fantastic assortment of bands and solo artists, such as the Lloyd Jones Quartet, AJR, and Carolyn Wonderland. While the undercard artists are enough to persuade Blues fanatics to attend the festival, the headliners of the event will attract a wide variety of concert-goers, with the Friday set closing with the legendary ZZ Top, and the Saturday night set ending the festival with Phillip Phillips. Tickets are currently on sale for ages of 18+, for both Friday and Saturday, charging $59 per individual.

Sweet Pea Festival
August 3-5 - Bozeman

This summer marks the 41st Sweet Pea Festival, offering multiple events for adults and children. Activities orchestrated by the Sweet Pea Festival range from over 100 arts & crafts vendors, a live broadcast of KMMS, and the Sweet Pea Parade, while children will be entertained with face painting, tie dying, and bandana designs. That said, the Sweet Pea Festival did not fall short providing numerous lucrative musical acts, such as Charlie Parr and Moon Taxi playing Saturday, and Cloud Cult closing out the festival with their Sunday set. Rates of admission to the festival range from $30 at the gate for adults and $15 for children. However, prices drop with the purchase of advanced tickets that go on sale Saturday, May 13th.

Travelers’ Rest
August 4-5 - Missoula

Hosted by the indie-rock band The Decembrists, Travelers’ Rest is an all-ages music festival set to take stage at the Big Sky Brewing Company Amphitheater. After a successful debut of the festival last summer, Travelers’ Rest looks to ascend into the pantheon of Montana Music Festivals, acquiring multiple acts that range across all genres, in the hopes to revitalize the magic of last year’s musical spectacle. Among the artists booked for the upcoming festival are the Tune-yards, Mavis Staples, and Death Cab for Cutie, including two shows from the Decembrists themselves. Tickets for General Admission are currently on sale for $95 on the festival’s website, along with multiple lodging options for traveling festival-goers.

Wildlands Music Festival
August 10 - Bozeman

One of several inaugural Montana music festivals, the Wildlands Music Festival will be introduced for the first time on August 10th. The Wildlands will also boast a milestone among Montana music festivals, taking stage at the Romney Oval on the campus of Montana State University, becoming the first-ever outdoor concert held at the Romney Oval. The festival will host duel-headliners in its first outing, starting the night with Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, followed by singer-songwriter Robert Earl Keen to close out the night. Tickets for General Admission start at $47, while VIP tickets can be bought for $177.

Julia Louis-Dreyfest
August 10-11 - Billings

In the heart of downtown Billings, the Julia Louis-Dreyfest music festival will be celebrating its 6th summer with talented performances across the spectrum of entertainment. As of May 1st, the Julia Louis-Dreyfest festival closed submissions for aspiring acts, ranging from comedians, to poets, and of course; musicians. Previously known as “Richard Dreyfest,” this year’s festival abandoned the Richard Dreyfest persona amidst on-going sexual assault charges against the actor Richard Dreyfus. Therefore, moving forward, the architects of the festival decided to commemorate the immensely talented actress-comedian, Julia Louis-Dreyfus. All ages are able to attend, and for those who consider themselves fans of Punk Rock, this is a must-see opportunity.

Moonlight Music Festival
August 17-18 - Big Sky

August 17th will mark the debut of the Moonlight Music Festival, hosted by Vootie Productions. Since its founding in 1990, Vootie Productions has established itself as one of the most successful producers of Montana and Wyoming music festivals, developing multiple well known music festival in the Rocky Mountain region such as Targhee Fest and the Grand Targhee Bluegrass Festival. With the inauguration of the Moonlight Festival, Vootie Productions hopes to add to its long list of musical accomplishments. Among the performers secured for the Moonlight Music Festival are Bruce Hornsby and the Noisemakers, Grace Potter, and Anderson East. The success of past music festivals and the notable acts booked for the Moonlight Music Festival foreshadow another successful music endeavor for the Vootie Productions.

River City Roots Music Fest
August 24-25, Missoula

Downtown Missoula will host the 13th River City Roots Festival on the brink of the coming school year for college students. Voted the 2009 Montana Tourism Event of the Year, the two-day free festival surrounds the attendees with an assortment of interactive events, ranging from a showcase of local artists in the Art Show, face painting for the children (and adults) in attendance, and a 4-mile Fun Run. Musical acts of the festival will perform on the main stage all day Friday and Saturday, consisting of shows by the New Orleans Suspects, Billy Strings, and the Infamous Stringdusters. Past festivals have drawn crowds as large as 15,000 in attendance, proving to be a weekend full of music and fun.

Montana State Hemp and Cannabis Festival
September 7-9, Lolo Hot Springs

Rounding out the summer of Montana music, the 3rd annual Montana State Hemp and Cannabis Festival returns to the Lolo Hot Springs with a jam-packed weekend of cannabis education and musical entertainment. Among the activities taking place are hiking, soaking in hot springs pools, and disc golf, while live musical performances will be providing a soundtrack for the weekend. As of now, artists currently booked for the Montana State Hemp and Cannabis Festival are Pato Banton and the Now Generation, as well as Sol Seed and Enzymes, though the main website for the festival promises a second round of artists to be announced shortly.

The list above ought to help individuals return to work or school with an abundance of stories from their adventures attributed to a summer of music. While summer vanishes, it will not be forgotten, for the Montana music festivals of 2018 will provide memories that last a lifetime, reminding those who fall into the abyss of the fall and winter that they have experienced the wonder of live music, and allowing those in attendance to reminisce in the moment that the only thing important was focusing on the six chords before them.   

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