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Things to do: Herbie Hancock, book fest, symphony and more

Things to do: Herbie Hancock, book fest, symphony and more

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Herbie Hancock

Herbie Hancock is performing on Monday, Sept. 20, at the KettleHouse Amphitheater in Bonner. (He's seen here at the 2019 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.)

A quick guide to upcoming arts and cultural events around Missoula.

Spirit Hotel and Panther Car at the ZACC

(Friday, Sept. 17)

Two excellent indie bands are converging at the ZACC Show Room this Saturday. One, Spirit Hotel, is from Missoula, the other, Panther Car, is from Bozeman. Both have released recorded work on DIY label Anything Bagel Records that's worth digging into before the show. Spirit Hotel is a new group led by Ash Nataannii, the frontwoman for Fuuls. She released a solo album, “Exit Music for Exit Wounds,” earlier this year that will appeal to fans of the psychologically probing bedroom psych. Panther Car’s “Pomegranate” is a set of woozy shoegaze rock with washed-out falsetto and noisy yet catchy guitar.

Doors open at 7 p.m. and the show starts at 7:30. Tickets are $10 in advance or at the door.

Virtual Montana Book Festival

(Multiple dates)

The annual literary festival had made plans for an in-person gathering this year but switched back to virtual as delta cases increased.

The events begin on Thursday with an event featuring Brendan Shay Basham (Dine), a winner of the first James Welch Poetry Prize at 6 p.m., and continue through Saturday, with more lined out for Saturday, Sept. 25.

Head to for the full lineup, which is chock full of the kind of names and talks that readers have come to expect.

On Saturday at 2 p.m., there’s an annual highlight — James Lee Burke will discuss his new novel, “Another Kind of Eden,” with local poet-essayist Chris Lay Tray. 

At 6 p.m., hear three veteran Missoula authors discuss “Montana Mysteries.” All three have new books — Dee McNamara with “Aviary,” Gwen Florio with “The Truth of It All,” and Caroline Patterson with “The Stone Sister.”

Art gets 'Wilder' at Radius

(Friday, Sept. 17)

A trio of artists have new work on view at Radius for “Wilder.” Kelsey Bowen, whose ceramic sculptures of the figure are adorned with heads of animals; Catherine Earle’s generously detailed figuarting paintings; and Jennifer Eli Indreland’s baroque and fantastical paintings on panel and sculpture.

The opening is Friday, Sept. 17, from 5-7 p.m. and Saturday, Sept. 18, from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. at the gallery, located at 120 N. Higgins Ave.

Gilda House throws final Giggle Box concert

(Saturday, Sept. 18)

Billings synth-pop phenom Gilda House is coming to Missoula for her first show. It’s also the last one at the Giggle Box, the experiential art museum at Southgate Mall. The multi-floor space in the old Herbergers, which is filled with custom installations by more than 15 local artists, is ending a year-and-a-half run, which is much longer than the planned six-month “pop-up” concept they had. (The last day they’re open is Sept. 24.)

The opener is local group Why We Came West (formerly known as Emzee and Silas).

Doors open at 8 p.m., the show starts at 8:30. 18 and up only. Tickets are $10 in advance at or $10 at the door.

Missoula Symphony Orchestra in person

(Saturday-Sunday, Sept. 18-19)

The MSO is back, live and in person, for the 2021-22 season. Music director Julia Tai and company will present their first show in their traditional space, the Dennison Theatre at the University of Montana, since early 2020. It’s also the first traditional masterworks concert for Tai, who was hired in the midst of the pandemic and led small ensembles for video-recorded concerts (or the park) until now.

For “Motors, Emperors and Activists,” Tai has selected a diverse program of composers. The regality in the title comes with Beethoven’s “Emperor” Piano Concerto No. 5, with guest soloist Jeffry Biegel. He’s bookended by “River Rouge Transformation” (2013) by Missy Mazzoli, a composer based in Chicago who was called “Brooklyn's post-millennial Mozart” by Time Out New York. The closing selection is Serenade in D minor (1889) by Ethel Smyth, a British Suffragist composer whose work is being explored more frequently by ensembles today.

Concerts are set for Saturday, Sept. 18, at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Sept. 19, at 3 p.m. in the Dennison Theatre at the University of Montana.

Masks are required indoors at all times under UM’s policy. Those who can’t attend in person can buy a ticket to view a livestreamed version.

Tickets are available at

Herbie Hancock at KettleHouse

(Monday, Sept. 20)

Who else has invented a new style of jazz piano, wrote standards in jazz (“Maiden Voyage”) and funk (“Chameleon”), got hired by Miles Davis when he was 23, cut a hip-hop classic (“Rockit”) and has recorded with Wayne Shorter, Joni Mitchell and Flying Lotus?

The 81-year-old pianist, synthesizer pioneer, composer and certified legend will make what appears to be his first Montana appearance ever this week with an outdoor show at KettleHouse Amphitheater in Bonner.

Seeing as he’s played with everybody, you might wonder who’s in his band. On guitar is Lionel Loueke, native of Benin, who recently released “hh,” an album of Hancock’s tunes. On bass is James Genus, of the Saturday Night Live house band, whose credits include albums by trumpeter Dave Douglas and “Random Access Memories” by Daft Punk. On flute and vocals is Elena Pinderhughes, a jazz/classical prodigy who’s played with trumpeter Christian Scott and at Carnegie Hall. On drums is Justin Tyson, who’s recorded with Scott and pianist Robert Glasper among many others.

Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the show starts at 8. Tickets are $40-$55, all ages. Go to for more info including shuttles, parking, etc.

‘Back to School,’ in the literal and theatrical sense

(Sept. 22-25, Sept. 29-30, Oct. 1-2)

The Montana Repertory Theatre’s return to live, indoor performance won’t involve an actual theater.

For “Back to School,” the company commissioned playwrights to come up with short scenarios about school that could be performed in readymade locations in an actual school — in this case, Willard Alternative School, as part of its “Plays on Tap” series. You can meet at Western Cider, have a drink and then take a yellow bus to the school, where you’ll see the plays in succession.

For information on times, tickets or the Rep’s new “pick what you pay” pricing model, go to or download their app. (Note: Masks are required at all times per Missoula County Public Schools.)

Lake Street Dive at KettleHouse

(Thursday, Sept. 23)

The indie R&B soul act, which has built a following from club-size shows at the Top Hat to bigger ones, switched plans last week.

The band was originally scheduled for a Sept. 21 show at the Elm, the new 1,100 capacity venue in Bozeman that opened earlier this month. However, the concert was moved, as “an outdoor setting was the only way to ensure that Lake Street Dive would perform in Western Montana,” according to Logjam Presents.

Tickets are $35-$45 available at, and all Elm tickets are valid for the new show or eligible for refunds. Doors open at 6:30 and the show starts at 8 p.m.

‘Miss Montana’ flies again on film

(Saturday, Sept. 18)

The story of “Miss Montana,” a DC3 aircraft that was restored for the 75th anniversary of D-Day, has been preserved in documentary form.

Local director Eric Ristau filmed the efforts to fly the plane to Normandy and interviewed the folks involved for “Return to the Big Skies: Miss Montana to Normandy.”

The feature-length movie will premiere with an outdoor screening at Big Sky Brewing Company Amphitheater at 6:30 p.m.

Seats are limited. For tickets, go to It’s a fundraiser for the Museum of Mountain Flying and to pay tribute to volunteers.

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