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Montana politics, elections and legislative news.

Pearl Jam Returns To Missoula To Mix Music And Politics

Pearl Jam bassis Jeff Ament at MTPR studios in Missoula, April 17, 2018.
Josh Burnham
Pearl Jam bassis Jeff Ament at MTPR studios in Missoula, April 17, 2018.

Preparations are underway for the sold out Pearl Jam concert at Washington-Grizzly Stadium in Missoula Monday night. This the third time the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band has played Missoula. (CORRECTION: A fan let us know that this will be the 7th Pearl Jam show in Missoula, we regret the error). 

"It’s sort of my big ask of the band. I said, ‘every six years I’m going to ask you guys to play Montana, as long as Jon’s running for Senate.’ So, here we are."

That’s Pearl Jam Bassist Jeff Ament, and the Jon he’s referring to is U.S. Senator Jon Tester. The two grew up in Big Sandy, and Ament is a big supporter of the two-term Democratic incumbent.

On Sunday, Ament, who lives in Missoula part time, will appear with Tester and Missoula Mayor John Engen at a sold out event at Missoula’s Wilma Theater that’s being billed as: “Q and A with a couple of rock stars.”

Ament is also promoting a free event on the University of Montana campus before Monday’s concert. He’s calling it a festival, which will help promote some of his favorite non-profits, including Forward Montana, Montana Native Vote, Montana Conservation Voters and Planned Parenthood Advocates of Montana.

"They’re going to help remind people to get out and vote, and that’s the main focus," he says. "Especially reminding young people,"

Ament says the festival isn’t just political. There will be local bands and artists, and he says he wanted to create an opportunity for volunteers working for causes and organizations he supports to meet and hang out.

Missoula Youth Homes, and the Poverello Center and the food bank, and Ravenwood and, Buffalo Field Campaign and the Arlee Warriors are going to come down and shoot hoops, the team did such a great job with the suicide prevention film that they made.

Ament says the concert itself is still going to be a rock show, and will satisfy people who aren’t necessarily looking to raise their political consciousness, but:

"If you’re coming to a Pearl Jam show, and you don’t know that there’s occasionally politics and social commentary involved in our shows, then you don’t know anything about the band. It’s who we are. You know, we have a voice, we’re U.S. citizens, we’re voters, we care about our future, we care about the future of the world. I care about the future of this state. And so, you’re going to get a little bit of politics, you’re going to get some social commentary at a Pearl Jam show." 

Pearl Jam plays Missoula after two shows this week in Seattle. There, the band partnered with businesses and individuals to raise more than $11 million to combat homelessness.

Eric Whitney is NPR's Mountain West/Great Plains Bureau Chief, and was the former news director for Montana Public Radio.
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