Father and son duo John and Andy Dunnigan have partnered with the Whitefish COVID Task Force to write and produce a song about being a “Friend of The Fish.” The tune, released Dec. 30, is the final installment in a creative Whitefish Covid Task Force public health campaign.
John Dunnigan is a staple of the Whitefish music scene, and performs around Montana and across the Northwest. Over the years, he has recorded several CDs that feature some of the leading musicians in the Flathead Valley. His son Andy is the lead songwriter, vocalist and Dobro player for the up-and-coming nationally touring band The Lil Smokies. The group, formed in 2009, released their latest album, Tornillo, in early 2020.
“These last nine months have been challenging for all of us. As musicians, we wanted to share a message that unified the community to be safe, so we can get back to doing what we love – performing live in front of people,” says the senior Dunnigan.
Andy adds, “As artists, we really miss our fans. More than anything, we want to safely get back to playing shows again.”
The song puts those aspirations into words: “So all my friends here in the ‘fish/ we just have this one wish/ it’s such a simple task/ and it’s really all we ask — please wear a mask.”
The tune concludes: “We all need to remember, it’s not about them and us, it’s the tiny town of Whitefish, versus the global virus.”
“Partnering with local musicians to create this song was one more way for us to reach another corner of the community,” explains city manager and Task Force leader Dana Smith. “It strengthens the message we’ve been sharing all along, which is that wearing a mask and being COVID-safe protects the wellbeing of all of our community members and keeps our businesses open.”
The task force also spearheaded a collaboration between Whitefish actors Erica von Kleist, Mikey Winn, David Blair and Sarina Hart and videographer Adam Pitman, who created the five-minute video that packs a punch, addressing visitors wearing masks, local artists struggling to find work, and the power of a unified community.
The vignette, “Be a Friend of the Fish,” culminates with the visitors coming together with the locals in a masked, socially distanced kick line. Each creator has a unique background in the entertainment industry: von Kleist, a Juilliard grad and award-winning multi-instrumentalist who’s played Lincoln Center and Broadway shows; Winn, a rising star nominated Best Actor in the Flathead Valley three years running; and Hart and Blair who are staples of Whitefish Theater Company productions, where they’ve in everything from cabarets to comedies.
Adam Pitman of Ghost Cat Productions filmed and produced “Be a Friend of The Fish,” and has worked professionally in the motion picture and film industry for years in LA, finding a niche for his creativity since coming back to his hometown of Whitefish.
Von Kleist, Winn, Blair, and Pitman were also creators of the virtual show Your Musical is Cancelled, the Musical. The production launched in November 2020 with a full cast residing from Brooklyn to Whitefish. The zoom spoof performance recently won the Best Comedy award for the Toronto Alternative Film Festival winter selections, and was also nominated for Best Cast.
Many of the cast are also involved in the Alpine Theater Project, which was been bringing Broadway talent, production, and education to theatre goers (currently Zoom goers) in northwest Montana since 2004.
The Whitefish COVID Task Force was formed to distribute a unified messaging campaign across the community to slow the spread of Covid-19. The program is funded through Montana’s share of the CARES Act that was made available to the State’s cities, towns and counties. For more information, and to take the pledge, visit WhitefishCovidCares.com.