Montanans are known for loving their blues and country bands live, but it is a rare group that brings out a crowd that seems to know every word and every strum of the band's guitar.
This was the type of atmosphere that The Gourds show at Manny's on Saturday night presented. Not only was the house completely packed, but the music was loud and the people of Billings were loving it in such a way that it was hard not to have a good time.
The opening group consisted of local boys, dubbing themselves Ted Ness and the Rusty Nails. Ted Ness himself, unfortunately, was unable to make this particular gig, but the Rusty Nails made up for his absence without skipping a beat. When asked if they were excited to be opening for The Gourds, they were enthusiastic and dubbed their main band, "Great musicians."
While opening bands are always up and coming and not well-known, it was surprising how good the Rusty Nails meshed together and really resonated throughout the venue. What was unique about this little folk/blues/county/blue grass band was that they were extremely talented with their instruments; picture a double bass, mandolin, fiddle and the classic guitar. Their sound was funky and eclectic with creativity oozing with every beat. Their closing song, a cover of Britney Spears' "Oops, I Did It Again" brought most of the crowd out of their seats. It turns out; however, that Ted Ness and the Rusty Nails have only been together for 4-6 months, although they sound much more experienced.
Sure, it was a long wait for The Gourds, our headliner, to take the stage, but when they did, it is easy to see how their popularity has held throughout the years. Not only did they open strong, but they sounded smooth, professional and definitely represented their years of experience.
Plus, it never hurts when one of the lead singers gets down on the floor and sings whilst lying on his back...and still sounds great.
The music was solid at this concert; every member of each band obviously played with a passion for what they do and that passion was intoxicating to the crowd. The crowd themselves were representations of sub-groups and cultures that I have not seen in Billings at any other concert thus far. Think and picture...Missoula.
Ted Ness and the Rusty Nails and The Gourds are talented musicians that have a flair for getting the crowd to move. In fact, by the end of my night, I was surprised at how often I caught myself (and my plus one that never dances) shaking our booties to the smooth tunes of the boys from Texas.