Magic City Blues rocks Billings Aug. 4-5

Brian Setzer, ZZ Ward, Blackberry Smoke headline Billings festival

New & Notable

Magic City Blues, Montana’s urban music festival, attracts thousands to the 2500 block of Montana Avenue in historic downtown Billings Aug. 4-5 for two nights of blues and rock.

Now in its 16th year, the festival opens at 7:30 p.m. Thursday with a free, all-ages show at St. John’s, featuring Blues Music Award winner Victor Wainwright and the WildRoots. Chuck Holland and Al Jordan open the show.

ZZ Ward
Fedora-rocking, guitar-shredding, harmonica-wielding blues siren ZZ Ward performs Saturday at Magic City Blues.

Australia’s Anni Piper opens the Magic City Blues main stage at 6:30 p.m. Friday; “Piper has the kind of voice that lulls men to their doom. It’s soft and sweet when it wants to be, scared and vulnerable a moment later, then ripping through you like a razor … Piper commands songs utterly.” Alabama-born Anderson East delivers R&B, and iconic guitarist, vocalist and three-time Grammy winner Brian Setzer and his Rockabilly Riot close out the show. “If you like your rockabilly delivered with panache, energy, and deep musicianship, you’ll be all over this one,” writes PopMatters of the band’s All Original album. Appearing on the Stillwater Stage are Gladys Friday, Charlie Parr and Wainright and his band.

The Dusty Pockets open Saturday’s Magic City show at 6:30 p.m.; ZZ Ward, a Fedora-rocking, guitar-shredding, harmonica-wielding blues siren from L.A., comes next, and the festival closes with southern rockers Blackberry Smoke, named “country music’s most ferocious live band” by Rolling Stone. The band “fills the bill for the next generation of gutsy, heartfelt and honest Southeast rocking with plenty of talent, tons of drive and no apologies,” writes American Songwriter. The Stillwater Stage features Tom Catmull’s Last Resort, G’Jai’s Jook Joint and Andrew “Jr. Boy” Jones.

Tickets are $49-$60 per day ($95 reserved) or $89 for a two-day pass (only 500 available); concert-goers must be 18 or older and full concessions are available. Call 534-0400 or visit