The 30th season of the Jean Matthews Tuesday at Twelve summer concert series began on a perfect summer day with a performance by the Gravely Mountain Boys on Tuesday.
“When Jean started this 30 years ago in 1990 this is exactly the kind of day she had in mind for it,” said Russ Lawrence. “I’m sorry she isn’t here to enjoy it with us but she is here in spirit.”
Lawrence thanked the Ravalli County Museum for the use of their beautiful lawn and shade trees.
“Also, thanks to Jenn Adams or Rooted Music for setting up the performers and all the additional work,” he said. “Thanks to our major series sponsors this year, the Downtown Hamilton Business Improvement District, the Rapp Family Foundation, Bitterroot Drug and Sagemont Investment Group.”
The concerts will run every Tuesday through August 20. All concerts will take place from noon until 1 p.m. on the lawn of the Ravalli County Museum, at the corner of South Third and Bedford streets in Hamilton.
In case of rain, the music will move to the community room at City Hall. Attendees are encouraged to bring a lawn chair or blanket and a picnic lunch to enjoy with friends, neighbors and family.
All events are family-friendly.
Jean Matthews developed the concert series in 1990 with three goals in mind: free concerts for the public, paid gigs for the musicians and drawing people to downtown Hamilton on a weekday. Local businesses and individuals continue to sponsor the series to keep it free for the public; major sponsors this year include the Rapp Family Foundation, the Downtown Hamilton Business Improvement District, Bitterroot Drug and Sagemont Investment Group/Darrell Reese.
When Matthews passed away in 2015, the series was named in her honor. A small board continues to guide the group, and Jenn Adams of Rooted Music in Hamilton provides invaluable help in booking the performers. This year, the board gave Adams a little extra in the budget to celebrate their 30th season, in terms of quality and variety. As usual, the schedule features a variety of musical styles, with performers of local, regional and national repute.
This summer’s schedule is: June 11, The Gravely Mountain Boys; June 18, Canta Brasil; and June 25, Cork & Spark; July 2, Jordan Smith Band; July 9, John Schiever and Jack Mauer; July 16, The Basement Boys; July 23, Big Sky Mudflaps; and July 30, Susan Gibson; Aug. 6, Frederico Brothers; Aug. 13, Bitterroot Community Band; and Aug. 20, John Floridis.
For the inaugural concert, The Gravely Mountain Boys provided traditional bluegrass music with roots that go back to the cradle of the genre. Based in western Montana, their high lonesome sound is anchored by Dick Darne. Born and raised in the hills of Virginia, Dick was a member of several prominent bands in the 60’s and early 70’s in the Washington, D.C. area. Other members include Ron Snyder and Richard Darne of Missoula, and Erin Snyder of Arlee. Signature vocal blends along with Richard's and Erin's instrumental work on banjo and fiddle comprise their unique sound.
Hamilton Mayor Dominic Farrenkopf said the concerts build community.
“I got interested in it when I worked at Discovery Care center because we took residents to Legion Park when it was over there,” he said. “Now, I work at Sapphire and we bring residents here, so the tradition continues. “
He said his favorite part is seeing the senior citizens get out and be able to enjoy free music at lunch time.
“They bring a sack lunch, listen to great music and be a part of the community,” Farrenkopf said.
After bringing residents to the concerts for many years he was invited to join the Tuesday at Twelve Board of Directors and enjoys serving.
“I get to help pick out the bands, fundraise and be a part of the whole experience and know what is going on behind the scenes,” he said. “Russ Lawrence, Jenn Adams, Steve Fullerton, Mara Luther, Sue Smith and one more are the ones who do all the work. People should attend all of the concerts this summer, all the groups are unique and bring their own special flair to the event.”
For more information on the concerts, call 406-363-1279.
Michelle McConnaha contributed to this article