From Steve Wagner The Big Band (Orchestra) plays on Sunday nights at the Eagles at 7pm and they are incredible!
Bozeman is a unique place from the standpoint of attracting people from all walks of life who choose to live here because it truly is one of the last best places. (I know… don’t spread it around.) Because of that fact, we have an inordinate number of very talented musicians, many of whom have come from other places due to the quality of life. Their problem is that they don’t always get an opportunity to express their talents; or at least they didn’t until Adam Greenberg started the Bridger Mountain Big Band. He hails from Cleveland where he had a Big Band for many years and felt that there was something missing in Bozeman, at least from his standpoint, so he started our Big Band. They began several years ago playing in Colonel Blacks in the basement of the old Bozeman Hotel. The Band, which has 17 to 19 members most nights, used to take up most of the tavern. There was a row of five tables between the bar and the front row of the band and to the side with seating along the bar…room for maybe forty, fifty max. In their new location they can seat quite a few more people, thankfully.
They’ve been at their new location since April or May. The contrast in the Eagles is remarkable from the standpoint of the diversity of patrons. As you walk in the front door there are the Eagles usual patrons and the Sunday Night Football. There is also food available: hot dogs, hamburgers and a crock pot or two of side dishes. As you move toward the rear, you pass the shuffleboard table and enter another dimension. The Big Band, replete with fancy white bandstands, spill over the tiered stage in all of their glory. The band member’s attire is casual for the most part: baseball caps, tee shirts, etc., though one of the players, a clarinet/sax man was dressed up and lookin’ pretty sharp. The reason they don’t get dressed up is because it’s all about the music…not the show! The band members range in age from high schoolers to seniors; uh… and I don’t mean seniors in high school, as do the ages of the audience. The band members come from varying walks of life from a gastroenterologist to photographers to laborers to students. The more senior members are some of Bozeman’s finest, including: Craig Hall on guitar, Stefan Stern on keyboard, Josh Lampkins on trombone, and Ben Johns on sax, to name only a few. There are also very talented young players such as Colleen Schmidt, who graduated from high school just last year and Luca Rodoni. Alan told me that they started with maybe 50 pieces and now tout over a hundred pieces.
The music ranges from popular to musicals to jazz; including classical jazz from the big band era to contemporary jazz pieces, and to classical arrangements. Adam is constantly broadening their scope and range by adapting new pieces from all genres of music. It is a real treat to hear them, so get up and go so you can hear the show. They don’t charge a dime, but the music’s sublime, so get out of your chair and join the fanfare. Oh…they do have a tip jar, so I’ll give you a tip… it’s money well spent! •