MISSOULA - By now, you know the story -- the COVID-19 pandemic sent live music into a tailspin.
But you can hear it creeping back into the fabric of Missoula; especially this weekend as the popular Jazzoula makes its grand return.
“It’s gonna be so fantastic to be back and to see people,” said Jazzoula founder Bruce Micklus. “I mean it’s a social thing.”
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Not only is Jazzoula returning after a two-year interlude, it’s back with new musicians, new tunes -- and a new venue.
But in appreciating all the new, you can’t forget about the roots.
“It’s the only original American form of music. We’ve taken from all sorts of spots around the world, but jazz music is identified as an American idiom,” Micklus explained.
Over the last 15 years, Micklus has brought this Americana music to center stage thanks to a multi-day jazz festival.
And for some, spending a night or two Jazzoula is a given.
Joe Cregg wouldn’t miss it as the weekend brings together old friends and some of the city’s best musicians.
“You’ll see the same drummer in several different bands, my friend Ed -- shout out to Ed. Just a lot of musicians in town playing all varieties of jazz,” Cregg said.
Despite its history, this is the first year that performers will have a stage.
“Being here at the ZACC is just beautiful, the room is exactly what we need,” Micklus noted.
A total of 22 bands will perform, taking the stage of the Zootown Arts Community Center through Sunday.
"We do short sets, so if you don’t particular care for a band, take a deep breath and in 15-20 minutes we’ll h have a completely different band up there,” Micklus said.
“And we have a few players who are JUst crazy good, and so they’ll take you on some trips, that’s for sure," he continued.
“I think if you just love music at all, you're gonna see lots of good music in Missoula the next few nights,” Cregg concluded.