When you hear Paige and the People’s Band, you can’t help but think this group is destined for a bigger stage and major venues.
And perhaps some serious notice from the music goddess who nudges music careers into the spotlight.
They’ve got the sound, the voices, the stage presence, the chops, the chemistry.
You can check them out for yourself at Lewis & Clark Brewing Company 7-10 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 27.
And they were recently featured on the Montana PBS show “11th & Grant with Eric Funk” https://watch.montanapbs.org/show/11th-and-grant/.
“So where have they been?” I wondered.
Well, obviously around Montana and, so it happens, touring the United States and Europe.
They’ve opened for such musical legends as BB King, John Hiatt, Willie Nelson, The Doobie Brothers, Lyle Lovett, Pat Benatar and Kenny Loggins.
And they’re about to receive an award whose-name-cannot-be-revealed until the big moment.
Lead singer Paige Rasmussen has an electrifying voice and heartfelt delivery.
A 2004 Bozeman Chronicle reviewer wrote: “If Aretha Franklin and Bruce Springsteen had a love child, she would be Paige Rasmussen.”
With a prior band, she was the lead singer on multiple stages at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.
She grew up in Bozeman in a family that took the pursuit of a creative life for granted.
To be a singer is almost a family rite of passage, said Rasmussen. She has an uncle and grandmother who were singers. And the family is chock full of actors, musicians and composers.
“For us, it’s really just something you do as naturally as you learn to walk or speak,” she said. She and her four siblings were encouraged to just pursue their dream.
“My parents were of the feeling, whatever speaks to you, see where it takes you. We just got 100 percent encouragement.”
Her father Rick is a bass player and singer, and her mom Kathy Pittenger had a jazz show for years on KGLT.
Her two sisters are actors and her two brothers, musicians, and one is also a composer.
One of them, Aaron, is the People Band’s regular drummer, vocalist and band founder.
Performing in Helena will be local drummer Jeremy Slead, sitting in for Aaron; Mike Koziel, on keyboards; Casey George, bass; Dan Bradner, guitar; Orin Gunderson, trumpet; John Swensied, sax; and Saara Richard, back-up vocals.
If the band members look familiar, that’s because you’ve probably seen them playing in other bands.
“That’s one thing great about Montana music,” she said. “There’s so much mixing.”
Rasmussen picked up her impressive singing skills from her family and from Marco Ferro, who was her high school choir director.
She’s honed her skills as a lead singer, starting in high school when she was sneaking into bars at age 15 to sing for various bands.
She’s hesitant to label the type of music the band plays. Often it’s soul, rock and jazz. But don’t be surprised if they throw some funk or blues into the mix.
“We just pick songs we like that we want to cover...or songs that challenge us as musicians…also songs that speak to us. If we enjoy what we’re doing that’s going to speak to (the audience).”
Her father used to tell her, “music is a ministry -- when it becomes about you, you’re not doing your job. Your job is to go out and express and move people and to bring them into what you’re doing.”
On Dec. 27, you’ll likely get some Curtis Mayfield, Aretha Franklin and the Monophonics, as well as some of the band’s original material.
The group’s been together almost three years, and it’s obvious they enjoy playing with each other when you listen and watch them perform.
“We had an amazing time at ‘11th & Grant,’” she said. “It was a surreal experience.”
They’ve had other notable career highlights, as well. Paige and some of the musicians have opened for such famous bands as the Doobie Brothers, Kenny Loggins and The Turtles. The acclaimed bands have not only been encouraging and supportive but willing to share tips for success.
One important take-away message Rasmussen got from the lead singer of Orgone is “Just be yourself in your full expression of yourself.”
She advised Rasmussen to perform for those people who connect with the music and not everyone does. “Not every song lands.”
Rasmussen’s passions are not just music, but also the outdoors and working in film production.
She finds a lot in common between the music world and film production. In both music and film she loves “the feeling in the air of creation and collaboration happening.”
When you see Rasmussen on stage, her boundless confidence is immediately engaging.
It’s also hard-earned.
She recalls a time in her life when she was “gutless.” “I was too scared to try anything...hitting rock bottom in depression.”
But when she started to shake it, she realized “What do I have left to be afraid of? Just try.
“That was an incredible life lesson for me.”
While some folks question why they should do something, “I’d much rather be in the category of those who say, ‘why not?’”
“Honestly what I feel is just gratitude that I get to play music I love. It’s the central place where my mind rests.”
That’s how the band feels too, she said, gratitude for every person who comes out to listen. “That’s why we do it – to connect.
“In a time in this country people have trouble doing that, we have an overwhelming sense of gratitude for the privilege.”