Tim Ryan Rouillier returns to his home turf to stage a monumental musical symphony about “my beloved Montana, the people who live here, the places near to my heart and the mountains that reach to the sky.” After a long career in the commercial country music industry, having written songs for George Strait, Phil Vassar, Randy Travis and many others, the award-winning singer/songwriter leads a large cast in “Play Me Montana.” The “original musical symphony memoir” premieres at 7 p.m. June 17 at the University of Montana Dennison Theatre in Missoula.
The performance features songs written by Rouillier with his Country Music Hall of Fame and Grammy-nominated co-writer, Charlie Black, Hall of Famer Alex Harvey, and co-writer Sharon Vaughn. The production is designed to capture the indelible beauty of Montana through the true tales of Rouillier, his Indian grandfather Vic Cordier, and their musical journey together. The performance will be filmed for future broadcast on PBS, giving audiences across the state and around the nation a chance to view this “once-in-a-lifetime” production.
Bart Herbison, president of Nashville Songwriters, has called Rouillier’s new musical “Grammy worthy”; and Tim Dubois, former president of ASCAP and Arista Records says the project “has the greatest of possibilities.”
Musical guests include Lari White, Mike Ulvila, Trevor Krieger, Stephen Small Salmon, the Durglo Salish Drum and Dance Group, Salish Native Women, and the N’kwusm Youth Choir.
Daniel Dauterive is film director, and the project is a collaboration with UM School of Business Administration’s Entertainment Management program. Rouillier hopes to take the concert on tour.
Rouillier grew up in St. Ignatius, the descendant of “six generations of Indians, cowboys and loggers.” His great grandmother came to the newly formed Flathead Reservation in 1891 with Chief Charlo and was a full blood Salish Indian.
“I had an extremely large extended family, so growing up in St. Ignatius, I always felt as though I was related to everyone.” His father served as town mayor for many years, his mother was the tribal clerk of court, and his grandfather and musical mentor served as tribal judge and city judge.
Rouillier went on to become a member of the Montana Grizzly 1982 Conference Champions football team, and marry Peggy Jo Rouillier, a 1987 University of Montana graduate. He has recorded for CBS, RCA and Warner Brothers records, written number-one hits and a song of the year. He also produced and co-wrote Mission Mountain Wood Band’s Re-Boot CD.
But it’s the story of his childhood and the place he grew up that takes center stage in the new musical. “I could see my family and neighbors sitting on our front porch listening to my grandpa and I playing music together,” he recalls. “My mom was singing, my aunt was dancing, the dogs were barking from the squeaky sounds of grandpa’s fiddle.”
“Looking back now, I understand. The life that seems gone will forever be as alive as the moment my grandfather played his last song.”
For tickets to the Missoula premiere of “Play Me Montana,” call 406-243-4051 or 888-MONTANA or visit griztix.com.