The Billings Outpost

Happiness pays off for Lucinda Williams

Photo by Michael Wilson - Noted songwriter Lucinda Williams performs Sunday in South Park.
By DAVE GIL DE RUBIO - Last Word Features

The idea that suffering makes for great art is one of those time-honored rock ’n’ roll tropes that even made its way into the title of a 1982 Todd Rundgren album (“The Ever Popular Tortured Artist Effect”). And while Lucinda Williams has had her share of personal trauma that’s informed her work over the past few decades, the happily married musician isn’t buying it.

For her, happiness is underrated when it comes to the creative process, even if the name of her fine recently released double-CD, “Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone,” might suggest otherwise.

“[Being miserable in order to create great art] is a big myth,” she said with a laugh on the phone at her L.A. home. “Not that suffering doesn’t help your writing, but I can’t write when I’m in the middle of feeling like crap. That’s the last thing I want to do. Tom Petty said the exact same thing in an interview. There’s this whole myth that you’re sitting on the side of your bed drinking Jack Daniels while your tears fall onto your guitar and you’re writing away. That’s not how it works,” she says with a laugh.

Last Updated on Friday, 31 July 2015 14:22

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O.A.R.’s new album draws on Nashville

Photo by Josh Goleman - O.A.R. plays Saturday night in South Park.
By ALAN SCULLEY - Last Word Features

O.A.R.’s latest album may be called “The Rockville LP,” but don’t take the title to mean it was recorded in the group’s home town of Rockville, Md.

In fact, the foundation of the album came together during an early session with songwriter/producer Nathan Chapman in Nashville in 2013.

Then other parts for the album were recorded in a host of non-studio settings in summer 2013 as O.A.R. toured amphitheaters across the United States.

“We brought a recording rig out and we utilized every venue that we were at,” sax player Jerry DePizzo said during a recent phone interview. “We would record guitars outside in Virginia at a show and we would have a soundstage in Connecticut and we would be doing handclaps at the end of (the song) ‘I Will Find You,’ and piano we would do at Saratoga Springs because they have a bunch of Steinways just sitting there. So we brought in a piano tuner and had at it. We utilized every and all space to make this record.”

But the album title is fitting because the group drew inspiration for the project by returning to Rockville and revisiting the community that still feels like home nearly two decades after the group began its journey together as O.A.R.

Last Updated on Thursday, 30 July 2015 14:05

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10 Eastern Montana hikes


Many people in Eastern Montana want to get outside and hike or explore new places but don’t always know where to go. This list highlights guided hikes in Montana Wilderness Association’s Wilderness Walks program.

Some hikes are focused especially on kids or are easier, while there are some pretty intense peak bagging hikes that more adventurous folks would be interested in.

1. Headquarters Pass

Sunday, Aug. 9

When I first moved to Montana from Idaho, I compared this great state to Wyoming, then Alaska, then California (relax, just Lake Tahoe), then Alaska again. And then I realized — that’s just Montana: It’s all those places in one. Headquarters pass is one of the incredible places in Montana made up of all the great things about everywhere else. On this hike, you’ll get views into the Bob for miles, you’ll stand right next to Rocky Mountain Peak (the highest around), and gaze down on wilderness and wildlife. Do we even have to talk you into it? Didn’t think so.

Meeting spot is at the Choteau Visitor Center in Choteau at 8:30am. Register here:

Last Updated on Thursday, 09 July 2015 14:17

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City races get hot


At least two people running for seats on the Billings City Council said they received harassing phone calls from a former council candidate, and one of the current candidates said the caller told him he was wasting his time and should drop out of the race.

The caller, Brian Kenat, said he is active in Republican and Tea Party politics and was only trying to find out where the candidates stood on various issues, and he denied advising anyone to end his candidacy.

Even without those fireworks, this is shaping up to be an unusually lively City Council election. At the close of filing on Friday, 19 candidates were running for five seats on the 11-person council, triggering what will be the first city primary in a non-mayoral-race year since 2003. (Look for details at the end of this story.)

Last Updated on Friday, 10 July 2015 14:19

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