Crown Guitar Concert & Winter Gala

Brett Dennen and Philip Aaberg join forces Dec. 4-5 for scholarship events

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Crown Festival: Philip Aaberg
Composer and pianist Philip Aaberg performs at two Flathead fundraisers for the Crown Festival scholarship fund.

The Crown Guitar Festival brings self-proclaimed “Wild Child” Brett Dennen and Montana-born composer and pianist Philip Aaberg to the Flathead Dec. 4-5 for two benefit concerts.

On Dec. 4, guitarist and singer-songwriter Dennen joins Aaberg in a special fundraising concert to support the scholarship program of the Crown of the Continent Guitar Workshop. The show starts at 7 p.m. at the Whitefish Performing Arts Center and offers a pre-show party at Abruzzo restaurant and a post-show party at the Firebrand Hotel. These include opportunities to meet and greet the artists, bid on auction items and enjoy more music.

One night later, on Dec. 5, a Winter Gala party at The Nest near Bigfork features music by both artists, dancing, taste treats, fine wine and beer.  The party also aims to raise scholarship funding for the 2019 Crown Guitar Workshop and Festival.

Both musicians have been artists in residence at previous Crown Guitar Workshop and Festivals – Dennen in 2015 and Aaberg at the Crown’s inaugural event in 2010 and again in 2011.

This also marks both artists’ second appearance at a Crown Guitar event. Dennen played to a full house at the 2015 Crown Guitar Festival in Bigfork bringing the crowd to its feet with his infectious, one-of-a-kind voice, barefoot dancing and let’s-get-happy attitude. The folk/pop singer says his early inspiration came from Paul Simon and his songwriting style has been compared to Bob Dylan, Tracy Chapman, Jack Johnson, James Taylor, and Wynonna Judd.

His song “Comeback Kid (That’s My Dog)” was the theme for the TV show “About a Boy” and he has six studio albums and five live discs and EPs to his credit.

Pianist Aaberg is well–known to Montana audiences for his compositions that evoke the spaciousness and beauty of the Western landscape. Now based in his hometown of Chester, Aaberg is classically trained. He holds a music degree from Harvard and was the recipient of a Leonard Bernstein Scholarship.

After graduation, Aaberg moved to California to make pop and rock records, eventually joining the Elvin Bishop Group in 1973, and touring for four years. He later performed with Peter Gabriel and recorded with the Doobie Brothers, Kenny Rogers and Vince Gill. Aaberg began composing his own music, signed with Windham Hill and released a solo album “High Plains,” bringing elements of blues, bluegrass, rock, and new music to his meditative compositions. His piano finesse has graced more than 80 albums over the years.

The events “will be a great kick off for our focused funding program that’s all about local scholarships and bringing the best musicians and teachers into the valley,” said Steve Anderson, executive director of the Crown of the Continent Guitar Foundation.  “Our mission at the Crown is to boost every participant’s performance, composition, collaboration and skill level up a notch or more through mentorship. Both Brett and Phil are considered two of the best today in the music world.”

Silent auction items are on tap both nights, and may be viewed beforehand on the Crown website.

Tickets for the fundraising concert in Whitefish are $100 for the VIP ticket; $75 for preferred seating; $50 for general admission and $10 for students with ID. All seats are $10 more at the door day of show.

A very limited number of tickets for the Winter Gala are $100 each and can be purchased online at or by calling 855-855-5900. A special package price of $150 that includes both events is also available on the website while they last.

Crown News for 2019

According to founding board member and executive director Steve Anderson, the Crown’s music education program will expand its focus across the Flathead Valley and further into Montana in 2019.

Next summer’s festival is slated for Aug. 13-16 (two weeks earlier than usual, to better accommodate students) and takes place at The Nest, located on the Swan River in Ferndale. Three public festival concerts featuring artists in residence will be held that week as well.

“We will also have performances this summer in Whitefish, Lakeside, Kalispell, Columbia Falls and Bigfork,” he adds. In addition – and for the first time in the festival’s history – Bozeman will host Crown workshops July 10-13. Learn more at