Merrill Ranch to host Big Barn Music Bash

Charlie Denison

A week from today ­on August 5 – Weston Merrill is hosting a special kind of barn dance featuring three acts focused on original music.

Sarah Skipper, a Lewistown native now touring with California group The Riverside, will headline the concert, which also features fellow Fergus graduate Eryn Bent and Haeli Allen, a Bitteroot native who has put down roots in Central Montana.

For Merrill, this “Big Barn Music Bash” is a good way to get people out to live music, and also another excuse to showcase the barn, which he said is worth checking out.

“The barn is almost 100 years old and is on the national register of historic places,” he said. “It has a really neat atmosphere. Come out and bring the whole family. Bring your own chairs, as well, and get something to eat. We’ll have burgers and chips available for a donation.”

Excited about the event, Merrill said he’s happy to turn the barn into a music venue. This was not something he planned, but something that came to light through a series of fortunate events. Three years ago, Kyle Shobe and the Walk ‘Em Boys asked to play at the venue, getting familiar with it after Jayson Shobe called a square dance there, and, last year, Riverside asked if they could do a show.

This year, Merrill was a little more intentional about it, putting a show together and booking acts. It was easy to land Riverside, he said, because they just played on the side stage at Red Ants Pants Music Festival Friday night.

“They have some awesome music,” he said. “We are glad to have them back and have a family-friendly concert with a laid-back atmosphere.”

This concert is particularly fun because of what each artist brings to the table, Merrill said. Riverside has its own bluegrass/contemporary folk flavor while Eryn has a melodic, dark, alternative feel with a touch of country. Haeli Allen has an edgy folk sound.

“Haeli is a singer/songwriter and a ranch wife,” Merrill said. “That’s not an easy thing to do.”

Merrill is a fan of all the artists coming to perform next Saturday, and he’s glad the concert has come together, thanks to Bent, who helped book the artists and promote the event.

“Eryn is awesome,” he said. “She’s been the go-to on how to put this show on. She also has a unique sound, and is pursuing her passion. It’s great to see her really getting after it. She’s been gaining a lot of momentum in New Mexico.”

Merrill said people in the area don’t want to miss this show.

“It’s going to be a good time,” he said. “I anticipate each group will play for an hour or so. If everyone is jamming and having a good time, we’ll keep it going longer.”

The Big Barn is located 12 miles south of Eddie’s Corner off US-87.

“We are located directly across from the oil tanks,” Merrill said. “You’ll see. It’s a big barn – that’s why it’s called the Big Barn Music Bash.”

For more information, call Merrill at (406) 366-6914.



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