In Scene Report, musicians from all over the globe fill us in on what’s going on sonically in their hometowns. This week Dawns gives the scoop on Missoula, MT.

One of the first albums I ever bought at Rockin Rudy’s, Missoula’s age-old staple for music collectors, was a group called Tarkio. This was shortly before frontman Colin Meloy took a trek west to the Portland area to start a band that all of us have come to know as the Decemberists. Missoula has long been considered the “baby Portland” or the “mini Austin,” and it’s fittingly so. One Saturday stroll down to the farmers market located under the Higgins Street Bridge near the Missoula “hip-strip,” and it is not uncommon to walk past two coffee carts, a musician, a band, a heckler and someone passing out a voter petition ballot, per every half block.

Missoula is somewhat of an undiscovered music hub that people are just starting to hone into. Not only is there some extraordinary talent brewing here in the valley, but national acts are beginning to catch on that our small mountain-town is a prime place to build a following, especially with the University Of Montana providing 15,000 students just a mile away from downtown. We’ve got it all: singer-songwriters, folk duos, bluegrass, some amazing indie-rock talent and even some solid local electronic artists, with venues ranging from 100 capacity to over 5,000 that guarantee a packed show at any level. When author William Kittredge coined the Montana phrase “The Last Best Place,” he wasn’t just referring to the scenery and our Western frontier. It’s no secret what Montana holds: tall mountains, great plains, big skies and a music scene on the brink of something special.

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