Mustache Pete revival Friday night at Eagles

Charlie Denison

Mustache Pete returns to the Eagles Friday night after a long hiatus. Original members Kevin Kemp (left) and Les LaFranier (right) will be joined by newcomers Zane Hauser on drums and Chris Hildebrant on keyboards and saxophone.

Photo courtesy of Les LaFranier

Les LaFranier performs at an Art Center fundraiser in December last month.

Photo by Dave Rummans

“Is that Les from Mustache Pete?”

That’s a question people have been asking around town, be it Wednesday nights during the street jam in the summer or Friday nights at the Eagles in the winter.

Les LaFranier, bassist and vocalist for honky tonk/classic rock band Mustache Pete, known best around Billings, Lewistown, and elsewhere in the region, has made his presence known in Lewistown’s music scene lately, playing with a variety of different bands.

But this Friday, Mustache Pete lead guitarist and vocalist Kevin Kemp will rejoin LaFranier and – for the first time in three years – they’ll be together again.

“Mustache Pete is back,” LaFranier said.

Established in 1981, ‘Pete’ quickly became a popular band at the Hay Loft, the 17 Club and other places around Billings.

“That’s where it started,” LaFranier said. “Off and on, from 1981 to 1997, we played all over, coming out here often at the Bar 19.”

Around 1995, the band even went on the road, playing the Dakotas, Wyoming, Idaho Nebraska and elsewhere.

But LaFranier, who met his wife at Bar 19, was ready to settle down and not continue on the road. Kemp, however, joined Southern Heat and took off.

Thus began Mustache Pete’s hiatus, and, although there were a number of years they didn’t play together, LaFranier said he knew it wouldn’t be the end.

Now, here they are, returning to the stage Friday night following Wylie and the Wild West’s Grand Stage show.

Some people may have seen this coming, as Mustache Pete surprised a number of Lewistown people by playing New Year’s Eve at the Winifred Tavern to ring in 2017. Having the opportunity to play again together so soon, LaFranier said, is a blessing.

“I’m looking forward to it,” he said. “We’ll be playing a mixture: a lot of country, rock and roll. We’re going to have fun and we hope to see people out on the dance floor.”

Through the years, Mustache Pete has worked with a variety of drummers. This time around, Zane “Z-man” Hauser will be behind the set. Saxophone and keyboard player Chris “Headhunter” Hildebrant will also join them Friday, which excites LaFranier.

“Boy, Chris can really make that [sax] talk sometimes,” LaFranier said. “It’s nice to have somebody like him around here. Heck, I like to play with everybody around here. I just love playin’. One day I won’t be able to, so I do it all I can.”

LaFranier encourages people in the community to come out to the Eagles any time after 9 p.m. or stick around if they are already planning on seeing Wylie Gustafson.

“There’s no cover charge,” he said, “and we’ll be playing all night.”







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