More Montana outdoor concert attractions are gaining traction

2014-05-30T00:15:00Z 2014-05-30T06:06:04Z More Montana outdoor concert attractions are gaining tractionBy JACI WEBB The Billings Gazette

Does music sound better outside?

More and more, music promoters are banking on the simple fact that people like the vibe of outdoor concerts. Whether it’s dancing in your bare feet in the area’s newest outdoor music venue, Trails End Concert Park, in Sheridan, Wyo., doing morning yoga at the Red Ants Pants Music Festival near White Sulphur Springs, or soaking up the urban feel of Montana Avenue after dark at Magic City Blues, chances are you will attend at least one outdoor concert this summer.

City, country jams

Magic City Blues, Aug. 8-10, is the biggest and one of the longest running outdoor music festivals in the area. This year’s headliners are Jonny Lang on Aug. 8, Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite on Aug. 9, and Huey Lewis and the News Aug. 10.

Red Ants Pants is featuring Charley Pride and Brandi Carlile as headliners during the July 24-27 festival. Founder of the festival, Sarah Calhoun, said she’s put extra work into this year’s lineup, trying to mix new talent with legends. This is the fourth year for Red Ants Pants.

“We’ve added some rock ‘n’ roll sounds with JD McPherson and some banjo punk with the three Swedish sisters of Baskery. The lineup has so much depth and variety,” Calhoun said.

Like Magic City Blues, which opens with a free concert on Aug. 7 featuring Cornmeal at St. John’s Lutheran Home, Red Ants Pants opens with a free street dance on July 24.

Both festivals raise money for local projects. MCB raises money for its nonprofit arm, Perfect Pitch, to help buy band and orchestra instruments for kids. Red Ants Pants Foundation raises money to support of women’s leadership and working family farms and ranches.

For the full schedule for Magic City Blues, go to Red Ants Pants schedule is available at

New to the festival scene

New this year is the recently announced Rockin’ the Rims on the Yellowstone, which is a daylong festival at Coulson Park on Aug. 16. It features headlining country artist John Anderson, games for children and adults, and arts and craft vendors.

Its organizers are dreaming big.

“The plan is a one-day event this year. However, we’re already working out logistics for next year for at least two days,” said organizer Kim Welzenbach, president of MACK Productions, Inc.

Part of the proceeds for Rockin’ the Rims on the Yellowstone goes to a scholarship fund for summer camps for kids.

Also new this year are two multi-day music festivals on a five-acre mowed field behind the Trails Inn on the north end of Sheridan, Wyo., which is 110 miles south of Billings. The Trails End Concert Park can accommodate more than 5,000 fans and offers 1,000 camp sites on the nearby Wrench Ranch.

Promoter Bob Green returned to his hometown of Sheridan three years ago to build an outdoor concert venue sophisticated enough to bring big name acts to Sheridan. In 2013, at least 4,000 people turned out to see country superstar Alan Jackson on the 40-foot-by-60-foot stage. It was partially built from old railroad ties to fit into the setting, which is near the railroad tracks. Green had bolts designed specially and shipped in from San Francisco to hold the ties together.

“This setup is state of the art,” Green said. “We can accommodate the Rolling Stones. My offer is out for Aerosmith to play our finale this year. It’s iffy, maybe not this year, but we’ll get them. We can accommodate that big an act.”

The Big Horn Country USA festival is June 19-21. It features headliner Big and Rich on June 19, Brantley Gilbert on June 20 and Lady Antebellum on June 21.

The rock festival, Rock’n the Railroad, is Aug. 1 and 2 and features Cheap Trick and Ted Nugent. For the full schedule, go to

Green said he’s been introducing agents to Sheridan, Wyo., since he returned to town in 2011 and they’re impressed.

“More than one agent said Sheridan is the most all-American city they’ve seen in years,” Green said.

Party in Three Forks

And for fans who like water and rock, the Rockin’ the Rivers outdoor music festival near Three Forks is the place to be in August. This year’s headliners are Queensryche, Winter and Lita Ford on Aug. 8, Hinder and Pop Evil on Aug. 9, and Jefferson Starship on Aug. 10. For the full lineup, go to

The country version, Headwaters Country Jam, is featuring headliners Dustin Lynch, Big and Rich, and Montgomery Gentry during the three-day event June 26-28.

Camping and concessions are available. For the full schedule, go to

Copyright 2015 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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