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Famed Montana musicians headline big hospital gala

Thursday, June 19, 2014

One of Montana's favorite bands played a rousing concert for attendees at the annual Clark Fork Valley Hospital Foundation Gala fundraiser June 6.

"Montana Rose" plays a mix of country, western and Americana, with a mix of original tunes and lyrics and songs from the masters.

It was a rare treat for the audience as well as the leader of "Montana Rose," Claudia Williams, was joined in the concert by daughter Tessy Lou, who was visiting from Austin, Texas, where she is enjoying success in her music career.

Joining them was Tessy Lou's dad, Kenny Williams, who plays a stand up bass in her band in Austin; drummer Rick Philip and exquisitely talented Bryan Paugh, who pumped out challenging music on the electric mandolin and a fiddle. Kenny and Bryan are part of "Tessy Lou and the Shotgun Stars" in Austin while Philip plays with Claudia in Montana.

Foundation director Barry Fowler told the audience he heard the group one time and fell in love with their music. So when he was accorded the chance to invite them to play for the Gala, he said he couldn't pass it up. The event is known for it's top notch Montana music that has included the Singing Sons of Beaches from Missoula.

The event raises funds for special projects at the hospital such as equipment that would help patients and the hospital but which is outside the annual operating budget.

In addition to the ticket sales for the music and a special barbecue dinner, Fowler donned his auctioneer's hat and sold several home baked pies at intermission.

After the session the musicians stayed around to talk with the audience members.

Tessy Lou Williams came by her talents naturally with a strongly musical family. As a young girl she would watch as her mother's band entertained regularly in south central Montana and eventually picked up a guitar and started playing. That led to song writing and now she's released a few albums of her work, that rivals her mother's voice, who is considered one of the best in the Treasure State.

Tessy Lou said they moved to Austin to further her career and one of her albums and her songs is about leaving Montana, which she performed for the audience.

Fowler noted that the gala was originally scheduled for earlier in the year but a winter storm delayed that event until June 6.

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