Magic City Blues rocks MetraPark Aug. 4-5

String Cheese Incident and JJ Grey and Mofro headline Montana's urban music festival

On Stage

Magic City Blues – Montana’s urban music festival – celebrates 22 years Aug. 4-5 with a dozen blues and rock bands performing outside at MetraPark in Billings.

Magic City Blues means party time in Billings.
Magic City Blues means party time in Billings.

Headliners are Colorado jam band The String Cheese Incident on Friday and soulful southern rockers JJ Grey and Mofro on Saturday.

Over the past decade, The String Cheese Incident has emerged as one of America’s most significant independent bands, effortlessly traversing genres. Born in 1993 in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, SCI has since released 10 albums, six DVDs and countless live recordings from their relentless tour schedule (a new album is due out in September). In addition to spreading their relentless musical energy world-wide for two decades, the band is known for their community spirit, philanthropic endeavors, and an innovative approach to the business of music.

The festival closes Saturday with JJ Grey & Mofro. From the days of playing greasy local juke joints to headlining major festivals, JJ Grey remains an unfettered, blissful performer, singing with a blue-collared spirit over the bone-deep grooves of his compositions. On stage, Grey delivers his songs with compassion and a relentless honesty and, with his band, offers grace and groove in equal measure.

Friday’s Main Stage lineup also includes: Tee Dee Young, a Kentucky artist who has been playing the blues for more than 50 years, at 5:30 p.m.; and GA-20, a dynamic, throwback blues trio that captures the place where blues, country and rock ’n roll intersect,  at 7:30 p.m.

Performing on the Second Stage, beginning at 5 p.m. Friday, are Counting Coup, the Brandon Sprague Band and Maggie Rose.

The Main Stage opens Saturday at 5:30 with the Seattle-based funk and soul group True Loves, followed at 7:30 with soul-blues artist Annika Chambers and Canadian blues rocker Paul DeSlauriers. The Second Stage opens at 5 p.m. and features sets by Dammit Lauren, Reggie King Spears and Gable Price and Friends.

Festival passes range from $123-$145, with VIP passes available; single-day tickets (available online only) are $87-$188 (VIP).