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More of the year that was



• In late February, Aaron Bolton, a young, vibrant music supporter, friend to many and part owner of the Badlander-Palace complex, died unexpectedly in Seattle. His father, Randy Bolton, gave a moving speech to a packed crowd at the Badlander. "We're all in Aaron's house now," he said. Bands who played the memorial included Mike & Rick, whose members were Bolton's former roommates and childhood friends. Bolton had long been a mover and shaker in the electronic music scene, as well as a drummer for several rock bands. The impact and consequences of his absence are still being felt at the Badlander-Palace complex and beyond.

Code of the West, a documentary about marijuana policy reform, received a special in-progress sneak-peek screening at the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival in February. Three months later, a finished version showed at the Wilma Theatre and included a postscript about medical marijuana advocate Tom Daubert, who was, at the time, facing a prison sentence.

• Missoula bands Stellarondo and Butter, along with members of Grandfatherglen and Next Door Prison Hotel, provided original music for three films at the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival: the 1921 film Manhatta, the 1927 film Berlin: Symphony of a Great City and Missoula artist Andy Smetanka's newest silhouette short, To The West.

• In May, Townsquare Media took over programming at the metal and hard rock station The Blaze, much to the chagrin of fans. The change had listeners in a fit on Facebook when the station started playing more mainstream bands like Nickelback over underground and local metal musicians.

• Several major Missoula Kickstarter campaigns received funding this year, including filmmaker Doug Hawes-Davis' documentary of The Gourds, which received over $47,000.

• The University of Montana Dance Program performed "MEAT" at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., marking the second time in two years local dancers represented the region at The National College Dance Festival. The piece was choreographed by UM alumnus Brian Gerke and his Icelandic dance partner Steinunn Ketilsdóttir.

• George R. R. Martin, the author of the highly addictive Game of Thrones books, made an appearance at MisCon, Missoula's annual science and fantasy convention. Fans stood in long lines to get him to sign books and took turns sitting in the iron throne that was carted into town from the HBO television series based on his writing.

• Frontier Space, a back alley gallery in downtown Missoula, hosted a May First Friday show called Triennial Refusés, an exhibit of works from artists who were rejected from the Missoula Art Museum's Triennial show. The "rejects" included some pretty hot names such as ceramicist Brandon Reintjes (of the Montana Museum of Art and Culture) and photographer Lucy Capehart. The idea was based on the French salon des refuses tradition, which provided a rebellious alternative to the juried-as-usual art institutions.

• Dana Gallery celebrated the 10th anniversary of its annual plein air event, during which artists spread across town and throughout western Montana to paint landscapes in the open air.

JK Simmons, the actor who's played several film and television characters including the gruff, cigar-smoking newspaper editor from Spider-Man, joined the Missoula Symphony Orchestra for its Veterans Day salute.

• Stand-up comic Chris Fairbanks, a Missoula native, and musician/comic Reggie Watts, who grew up in Great Falls, performed a double-bill at the Badlander on Dec. 18. The sold-out show featured a string of Montana-specific jokes, ranging from the origins of "Zootown" to the prices and aesthetics at the Good Food Store.

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