What started as an experimental event earlier this year has transformed into a monthly mainstay in downtown Kalispell, complete with a wide range of musical acts and genres, dancing, food and drinks, raffles and more.
On the first Sunday of the month, the main ballroom floor at the Eagles Club in Kalispell transforms into a gathering of young and old — groups of friends, couples, singles and families — all brought together to enjoy music at the Kalispell Music Festival. The musicians and performers are as varied as the audience, including all ages and abilities. The resulting community celebration is truly unique.
“When we started, we wanted to create a place where families could come with their kids and teens,” said Cassidy Raelund, 18, one of the event organizers. “We wanted a good environment where all people could come to enjoy music.”
Raelund is one of five siblings in her family who together have spearheaded the Kalispell Music Festival. The group also performs as The Raelunds. Other siblings and band members include Bailey, 22, Antonius, 21, Colton, 16 and Crickett, 15.
“When the oldest was 13, they sat down at the table and said they wanted to be a band,” said their mother Candi Liles. “Now they’re close to having enough original songs to record an album ... They love sharing the music. That’s what they’re about.”
WHEN THE Raelunds first began performing publicly, all of the band members were younger than 21. This proved problematic when many local open mic opportunities take place after hours and in bars, according to Cassidy.
“We wanted to have a good place, and we wanted other kids to have a good place,” Cassidy said. “There is a lot of talent here ... and we wanted to promote that. This offers kids the chance to perform with other acts and be on stage, but also to watch professionals and other musicians.”
The festival format is not quite traditional open mic, but runs similarly. Liles said that interested performers are asked to submit a video or perform an informal audition, mostly just to ensure that everything remains family-friendly. Performers are then added to the lineup.
Each set in the line-up consists of three or four songs, but includes some flexibility for in-the-moment collaborations.
“We want to inspire people, and also open the doors for local performers and musicians to meet and hear what others are doing,” Liles said.
The Kalispell Music Festival began in March, and has been building every month since. Liles said they plan to continue the event through 2018.
“We like people to dance; we want people to have fun,” Liles said. “This is family fun. Everyone has a place here.”
The Kalispell Music Festival takes place from 4 to 9 p.m. on the first Sunday of each month at the Eagles Club, located at 37 First St. W., Kalispell. The next event is coming up Sunday, Dec. 3.
Admission for the Kalispell Music Festival is $5 per person, with those funds going to support the musicians. Money raised at the various raffles is divided up among several charities.
For more information about the Kalispell Music Festival, visit https://www.facebook.com/Kalispell-Music-Festival-232205140521912/.
CASSIDY SAID, for her, it’s all about the music.
“It’s my favorite thing; we love it,” she said of playing music with her siblings. “We definitely have a super connection ... It’s really cool to play with them.”
She added that she hopes to see more young musicians come out to play with some of the more well-known acts that perform monthly.
“I always encourage people to just go for it,” Cassidy said. “Because if [playing music] is what they really want and what they dream of, they can do it.”
Arts and entertainment editor Stefanie Thompson can be reached at 758-4439 or ThisWeek@dailyinterlake.com.