Eclectic Moonlight MusicFest adds to summer scene

Inaugural festival brings Bruce Hornsby, Grace Potter and more to Moonlight Basin Aug. 17-18

New & Notable
Moonlight Musicfest: Sam Bush
High-powered mandolin maestro Sam Bush and his band add a bluegrass flavor to Saturday’s line-up.

The inaugural Moonlight MusicFest – headlined by Bruce Hornsby and the Noisemakers and Grace Potter – debuts next week, Aug. 17-18, in Madison Village, on the north side of Lone Peak in Big Sky. Akin to the Targhee Fest, held mid summer at Grand Targee Resort in Alta, WY, the Moonlight Musicfest is multi-faceted, with a roster ranging from The Wood Brothers and Sam Bush Band to Mission Temple Fireworks Revival featuring Paul Thorn and the Blind Boys of Alabama, and the Chris Robinson Brotherhood (see schedule below).

“To have a weekend in Big Sky with this caliber of music, and with all the outdoor pursuits available, it’s going to put the event on the list of must-go festivals,” said Tom Garnsey, owner and president of festival promoter Vootie Productions.

The weekly outdoor concert series, Music in the Mountains, sets the mood with a free concert Thursday, Aug. 16, by The Two Bit Franks, followed by the Jeff Austin Band in Big Sky’s Town Center Park. These family-friendly concerts, sponsored by the Arts Council of Big Sky, are held every Thursday from June-September at the city’s Center Stage at Town Center Park, starting at 6 p.m.

“Partnerships like the one we have with Moonlight Basin are critical to the success of the Arts Council and emphasize our efforts in building the community and its art-centric culture,” said Arts Council executive director Brian Hurlbut.

Festival gates open at 2 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. Saturday, with free shuttles from Big Sky Resort for ticket-holders. Parking is limited at the resort and in the community of Big Sky, so promoters recommend carpooling or even taking a bus from Bozeman.

The event includes food, drink and art and crafts vendors. Camping (now sold-out) is available, and promoters promise to offer more next year.

Tickets for Moonlight Musicfest are $125-$135 for a festival pass. Single-day passes range from $65-$75 Friday and $75-$85 Saturday. Children younger than 12 are admitted free.

Proceeds from the festival support the Moonlight Community Foundation, as well as the Big Sky Arts Council.

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Moonlight MusicFest schedule

Friday, Aug. 17: Gates open at 2 p.m. , with music beginning at 4 p.m. by Hawthorne Roots, Mission Temple Fireworks Revival featuring Paul Thorn and band and the Blind Boys of Alabama, The Wood Brothers and Bruce Hornsby and the Noisemakers.

Saturday, Aug. 18: Gates open at 10 a.m., and music kicks off at noon featuring Kylie Spence, The Well, The Suffers, Anderson East, Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Sam Bush Band and Grace Potter.

After Parties: Still hankering for music when the gates close? Head to Montana Jack at Big Sky Resort, which hosts free music by The Hooligans, 10 p.m. Thursday; and shows by the Jamie Maclean Band, 10 p.m. Friday ($15) and Reckless Kelly, 10 p.m. Saturday ($20). Promoters suggest the shows will also include “special surprise guests, jamming on stage together.”