Squirrel Butter, husband and wife duo of Charlie Beck & Charmaine Slaven, started performing together after meeting at the Portland Old Time Music Gathering in 2005. Sharing a deep love of traditional music, they perform American roots music of old-time, bluegrass, blues, and country. They add their touch to these traditions and thread traditional influences into their original compositions. Multi-instrumentalists, they play banjo, guitar, fiddle, steel guitar, step-dance, and sing harmonies. They're both members of the venerable string band, The Tallboys, and are both instigators of the country dance band, The Lucky Shots. For over the last dozen years, they have contributed to the of the music and dance communities in the PNW, and their love of the music and people keeps growing. Charmaine is also a Bitterroot native, and is excited to participate in an event back home, and with their baby girl, Hazel, in tow!
Annie has been playing and listening to old time tunes for over 10 years. Although she previously played different genres of music, none captivated her until she attended the Appalachian String Band Music Festival in West Virginia. There, she fell in love with the rhythmic beauty of old time music. Now Annie delights in playing with the Woodhogs and friends/family in Missoula.
Bill has been playing and singing for almost 60 years: old time, bluegrass, swing, and Western swing. He’s performed with plenty of bands: Western Reunion, Hired Hands, Hog Heaven String Band, Holladay and Siems, Old Dominion, and E. Fellers.
Aaron Jennings is the son of a son of a Yodeler. He first began teaching himself to Yodel when he discovered a book of Cowboy songs and poetry written by his great-grandfather in the 20's and 30's. When he read the words "(Yodel Here)" his life was changed forever. Performing traditional and original Western music around Montana as "Wailing Aaron Jennings" his enthusiasm for the history and culture surrounding these musical traditions is infectious.
The Beet Tops are an old-time string band on a mission to bring traditional music and southern square dance to all corners of Montana. With roots from West Virginia to the West coast, they add a little sass and drive to a repertoire of Appalachian fiddle tunes, taking listeners on a musical tour that predates bluegrass and the invention of the steam engine. The Beet Tops are known for their ability to get folks moving — whether on the dance floor or in your backyard. The Beet Tops have played barn dances and festivals across Montana, including the Red Ants Pants Music Festival and Big Sky PBR. Band members include Claire Baer on fiddle, Rob Terwilliger on banjo, Brian Herbel on guitar, Travis Yost on bass, and Chelle Karcher on fiddle or calling square dances.
Bev has been inspiring dancers of all ages and abilities to joyfully move through square, circle and contra dances for over 30 years. She began calling in Raleigh, NC as one of the founders of Pinecone, the Piedmont Council of Traditional Music. She continues regular calling today throughout western Montana at community monthly dances. She has been a featured caller at the Montana Folk Festival and Northwest Folklife Festival in Seattle. Bev loves to accompany dance music with her “happy feet,” clogging to the driving rhythms of old-time, Quebecois and Irish music.
Caroline Stephens grew up around square and contra dancing in her home state of Kentucky. Only when she moved out of Appalachia to the Rocky Mountains did she learn how to call. Caroline calls for everyone—beginners and experienced dancers alike—and has a deep love of old, rhymey patter, swingey dances, and improvisational calls.
Chelle is an old time musician and square dance caller. She found her home in old time fiddle and banjo music about a decade ago and has spent countless hours learning and playing tunes ever since. As a dance caller, Chelle has coaxed many a skeptic through a Double Bow Knot or a Texas Star. She has called square dances for crowds large and small across the state — from festival to farm-yard, dance hall to living room.
Brian Herbel plays guitar in the The Beet Tops but for nearly 15 years was widely regarded as an old time mandolin player learning from the likes Bob Hamilton, Caleb Klauder, Mike Compton, Mark Vaughn, and Anne Louise-Genest, among others. He has a repertoire of old time tunes and he is always willing to share his style and knowledge. He plays a 1916 A4 Gibson mandolin, currently lives in Victor, Montana with his wife Jen and son Clancy on a 10-acre farm called Verdure Pastures.
Steve and Sally O’Neill live in Bozeman, MT. They play a variety of musical styles including Cajun, Old Time, Swing, Celtic, Spanish and other traditional acoustic music. They have enjoyed playing throughout the region for many years and were featured artists at the Big Horn Music Festival in Buffalo Wyoming last summer. They were also featured on the PBS Montana 11th and Grant show a few years ago. You can find out more about their music as well as a link to the show by going to www.bebeleboeuf.com.
Dan grew up playing loud and fast music in eastern Iowa. He still likes fast songs, but now plays clawhammer banjo with the Woodhogs. When he isn't playing the banjo, most of his free time is spent studying old time fiddle bowing or gallivanting in the mountains.
Jessica Catron grew up in the Black Hills of South Dakota, spent some time in the high desert of New Mexico, then moved west to chase a carrot in Los Angeles for 15 years. Currently, she lives as a cellist/singer/composer/educator in Missoula, MT. Her musical adventures include performing and/or recording with notable artists such as Carla Bozulich, Nels Cline, Devotchka, Dave Matthews, Sheila Nicholls, Pauline Oliveros, Spiritualized, Corin Tucker, Scott Weiland, Emily Wells, and Wilco. She fell in love with shape note music when she was touring extensively with folk band VOCO, with whom she won the national Harmony Sweepstakes A Cappella Competition in 2007. They arranged many renditions of these old vocal hymns and she loves to teach the style and harmony singing from this time period of early Americana. Jessica currently runs Grow Music Missoula, which offers music lessons and performance in Missoula. http://www.growmusicmissoula.com
Mike Williams is a fiddler from Helena, Montana who has played fiddle for 40 plus years and has taught the instrument since the mid 1970s. In addition he was instrumental in starting the Montana fiddle camp, which is still going strong for 22 years. His knowledge of tunes is wide and encompasses various genres. Influences are the Skillet Lickers, Henry Reed, Doc Roberts, Bob Walters, Chirps Smith, Kenny Baker to name but a few. He will be teaching advanced fiddling for participants with substantial exposure to dance music including reels, waltzes, hornpipes, schottisches.
The Woodhogs first met at the 2017 Missoula Old Time Social. Since then, they've played together at dances, in living rooms, on street corners, and at picnic tables outside local ice cream shops. The Woodhogs are Annie Caires on fiddle, Dan Stone on banjo, Vince Caristo on guitar, as well as any friends that want to play along. John Parker often holds the beat down on bass. What keeps them playing is a shared love of the raw, fiery, brilliance of old-time fiddle tunes, and the easy way this kind of music leads to friendship and community.
Primitive String Band
The Primitive String Band is Mike Williams and Steve Laster on fiddle and five-string banjo respectively. Both are presently members of the WMDs a Helena based string band which plays dances in various venues throughout western Montana. The band's repertoire includes tunes from the southern and mid-western areas of the country.
Steve has been playing banjo for longer than some folks have been alive. Growing up in North Carolina, he was surrounded by country musicians, learned to play country blues and ragtime on guitar, and picked up an open-back banjo somewhere along the way. Banjo in hand, he relished in summer jaunts to the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, east Virginia and Tennessee, learning the old fiddle tunes on his banjo and jamming with great musicians from southern Appalachia. Today he plays in an old time string band for contra dances in various locations in Montana, and is always looking for an excuse to slip into a foot-stompin' jam.