Tricia Opstad presents Sunday, January 6

My work is an essential desire for creating experiences in my life that have significance, meaning, depth, clear listening, communication through alternate means, entering into a shared space and time where we don’t know what will happen, an experiment, and an adventure with each other that has possibility and results in change, connection and trust.

Dance Improvisation involves paying attention to a somatic state. Somatics is defined as a dancer’s close attention to proprioceptive information about the position and motion of each part of the body and techniques whose primary focus is the dancer’s personal, physical experience, rather than the audience’s visual one.

Dance Improvisation also includes making work in front of an audience in performance. The Six Viewpoints as described and developed by Mary Overlie are a guide or map for making material that consider audience perspective. The components of The Six Viewpoints are as follows: Shape, Space, Time, Emotion, Movement and Story (SSTEMS). My work falls under a postmodern umbrella where the stage is there to enact microscopic interrogation of our physical, mental and emotional world.

The project created for LakeBottom’s FreeSessions, titled ‘Bubbla: How to Animal’, involves a three part dynamic. ‘Bubbla’ is a self declared and created search engine platform for asking ‘How To’ questions from the work.

1) I want to develop, practice and use The Six Viewpoints with collaborating dancers and musicians to inform improvisation performance.

2) When I create something, I sometimes experience hesitation and question myself. I worry that I don’t know how to do something even though I do. So, I took this act of ‘questioning’ and put it into the work by asking ‘How To’ questions of an unusual nature. And through these questions, I allow for answers to come through the body in the dance improvisation work. This unknown space is alive in improvisation.

3) Finally, I want to propose and consider that our bodies are the most sophisticated and advanced technology to date. With the information and technological age, came more state of the art computers, phones and devices, not to mention more ways to connect and find out anything we wanted to know. I often find myself caught up in this wave and seduced by its wonder. I want to continue to alter the paradigm and experience this same if not a pure taste of wonder with improvisation dance and performance with other artists. I want to remember to ask myself, ask within and ask my body the questions rather than search for it outside of myself.

FreeSessions at First Night (12.31.18) at The Dana Gallery

Schedule of events:
7-7:30 – Missoula Conduction Orchestra directed by Naomi Siegel
7:40-8:20 – Improvised Jam Session
8:25-8:55 – Michael Musick Presentation
9:00-9:30 – Improvised Jam Session
9:30-10pm – natalita Presentation

Jenni Long presents Sunday, December 2

Jenni Long will be joined by Molly and Brian.

That pleasure which is at once the most intense, the most
elevating, and the most pure is, I believe, found in the
contemplation of the beautiful. When, indeed, men speak
of Beauty, they mean, precisely, not a quality, as is
supposed, but an effect—they refer, in short, just to that
intense and pure elevation of soul—not of intellect, or of
heart (…)”
– Edgar Allen Poe – The Philosophy of Composition

Your whole body… is nothing more than a thought itself, in
a form you can see. Break the chains of your thought, and
you break the chains of your body, too…

Freedom is the very nature of his being, that whatever
stands against that freedom must be set aside, be it ritual
or superstition or limitation in any form.
– Richard Bach- Jonathan Livingston Seagull

At all times remember to imagine a beautiful sound. Keep
your energy up but never tense. Move that energized air
through your sound.

Your mind cannot be aware of what your fingers are doing.
The mind is in the sound and allows what is going to
happen to you, without conscious thought.
– Bill Adam

natalita presents Sunday, November 4


natalita is a multi- media artist; manipulating sound, body, and imagery to tell the stories of terrain and ritual. Her work is rooted in improvisation, meditation, experimentation and collaboration.

Justin Matousek presents Sunday, October 7

its all music – duke ellington

artists can do whatever they want! – marina abramovic

ill play it first and tell you what its called later – miles davis

what we play, is life – louie armstrong

i am the sum total of everything i have experienced musically – hank jones

find things beautiful as much as you can, most people find too little beautiful – vincent van gogh

if only we try to live sincerely, it will go well with us, even though we are certain to experience real sorrow, and great disappointments, and also will probably commit great faults and do wrong things, but it certainly is true, that it is better to be high-spirited, even though one makes more mistakes, than to be narrow-minded and all too prudent. it is good to lovemany things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love, is well done – vincent van gogh

..the best way to know god is to love many things. love a friend, a wife, something, whatever you like.. .but one must love with a lofty and serious intimate sympathy, with strength, with intelligence… that leads to god, that leads to unwavering faith.. .to give you an example: someone loves rembrandt, but seriously, – that man will know that there is a god, he will surely believe it.. .to try to understand the real significance, of what the great artists, the serious masters, tell us in their masterpieces, that leads to god.. – vincent van gogh

draw a straight line and follow it – la monte young

do not be afraid of being wrong; just be afraid of being uninteresting – t. carl whitmer

do not fear mistakes. there are none. – miles davis

don’t play the saxophone. let it play you. – charlie parker

music, for me, has always been a place where anything is possible – a refuge, a magical world where anyone can go, where all kinds of people can come together, and anything can happen. we are limited only by our imaginations. – bill frisell

seemed to me that drumming was the best way to get close to god. – lionel hampton

the reward for playing jazz is playing jazz. – john lewis

the spirit of jazz is the spirit of openness. – herbie hancock

there is no such thing as a wrong note. – art tatum

when people believe in boundaries, they become part of them. – don cherry

mistakes are almost always of a sacred nature. never try to correct them. on the contrary: rationalize them, understand them thoroughly. after that, it will be possible for you to sublimate them.”

 salvador dali

so little of what could happen does happen.”

 salvador dalí

keep a thing happenin’ all throughout – john coltrane

y e s – yoko ono

i have nothing to say/ and i am saying it/ and that is poetry/ as i need it. – john cage

walk so silently that the bottoms of your feet become ears – pauline oliveros

you know, you don’t see with your eyes

you see with your brain

and the more words your brain has

the more things you can see – krs one

anybody can play. the note is only 20 percent. the attitude of the motherfucker who plays it is 80 percent – miles davis

no good art no bad art butterfly wings make wind makes oceans move makes mountains smooth vibration is sound sound is vibration brain bursts turn physical to move fingers and windpipes to move minds to move air to move mountains and oceans but process over product no statement but creation practice doesn’t exist sound is vibration is sound molecules always move



Emily Silks presents Sunday, September 2

FreeSessions: September 2nd

A place for intentional listening


Observe Gratitude


The wind is insanely sharp tonight. Insanely sharp. Our invisible, tangible, undeniably real bodies sit proper and listen.


Fine cutting, silver bladed scissors, right? Like, that must be us, we just cut into time no matter what it seems like.

It seems like.

It seems like.


It seems like I’m meaning much of something I think. I think, I mean, the wind, it just howls and I need to say something.


Free sessions, free. Free, anything, all of it. All of it, really. What’s that mean?


Anything, anything, really. So there, it’s beautiful. Right? It’s beautiful.


It’s beautiful. (It’s beautiful) We live on the cutting edge and here it all is.

Observe Choice


What do you want?

A cardinal, a songbird, a fundamental?

All of it, any of it?

It’s up there – it’s a winged treasure, a cherished happening.

Take it sincerely. Hold dear the gift of witnessing.

All of it – anything, say what you want.


Observe Potential


So it’s like when I first saw you.

Like, actually saw you.

I listened with my eyes and ears and hands and feet.


My choices were informed by yours,

There we were,

On the cutting edge,

Saying something.


The first time I heard sound,

It was a waking up – a breaking of a silent fast.


We share an endless potential.

We inform each other.

(not just us, but any body or group)


Our musical voices have endless potential.

Lhanna Writesel & Paxton Marler present Sunday, August 5

In this month’s FreeSessions, we will explore the boundaries between language and art. Below are our individual interpretations of this concept:

In Lhanna’s Words:

Art, in its many forms, facilitates human connection and communication in ways that language cannot. Those who struggle to communicate with others through language can connect through art.
Group improvisation is one avenue that can lead to a heightened perception of those around us. Each sound offered by the individual contributes to the overall sound of the group, creating a breeding ground for a different type of communication.

In Paxton’s Words:

Art is a medium for expressing the beauty and nature of everything. It is a medium that bridges the gap of what can and cannot be conveyed through words. While words emit the consciousness of one thing, sight emits another, sound emits another, smell emits another.
One human is a medium for their perceived world. Another human is a medium for another perceived world. Another is another is another. Together, we create a new story and a new understanding. Art is a medium for expressing the beauty and nature of everything.

In Emily’s Words:

For us, music allows for a more fulfilling mode of expression than the spoken word alone. We communicate and speak from a place much different than language. Our dialogue is not confined to the boundaries inherent to language and it lacks concrete definitions found in the spoken word. Because of this, the musical mode of expression and communication speaks truly and perhaps more directly from our life experiences. In this way, exploring space and sound with others provides us a revitalizing way to speak, grow, and learn.

This is only one interpretation of the broad concept we would like to explore. It is our hope that we can further explore what this idea has to offer through the music we will all share during the FreeSessions.

Amy Reed presents Sunday, July 1

The ofrenda will be to activate our listening to the dream. A workshop focused on composition and listening. Bring a dream.


Amy Melissa Reed is a visual artist and improviser creating new sonic language for guitar, exploring the spontaneous possibilities of song, and researching the composer’s relationship to dreaming, storytelling, and listening. They create visual and sonic work that remembers the relationship and healing forces of land and our body’s relationship with the earth. They compose for solo and ensemble.

They co-founded Gold Lion Arts in Sacramento, CA and curate Ma Series and focus their time and energies to build an international community of women composers and improvisers who support each other and the research, practice, and performance of experimental, healing, and adventurous sonic work.

Learn more about Amy Reed at:

Linden Marie presents Sunday, June 10

Part 1: The Performance:
There is a sound I have to make, within a story I have to tell, in the only way I’m able to at this time. The one place I want to begin this project is the valley of my birth, with the mountain folk I adore, in the safe container of these Sunday sessions. Nothing about sharing these sounds is easy. But holy resilience is the key and all is for the allowance of healing. 

Long ago, Martin Prechtel lovingly wrote to me, “Weep into the footprints of all your past shipwrecks, then watch beauty grow in there and the Holy bend her head to drink at these wells of grief.” Indeed, this exact beauty has grown the wings of two human butterflies who are living together, into the truth that we can heal from anything. For this short set of improvised music I will be joined by Naomi Siegel and Ed Stalling, who have shown me time and time again, that they are not afraid to dive into deep waters. I welcome you to join us in the openings.

Part 2: The Sessions:
Sometimes poems save lives. Sometimes they rot in the belly of the one they call upon for help, never to be given space to be listened for, let alone written down. Sometimes poems sit in closed journals on dusty shelves, never to be opened or spoken out loud. Sometimes they hold shame for even being there. Sometimes the craft of directly building letters and spaces to birth a poem is a key element in rebuilding a human body back from the netherworld. Sometimes a poem makes a new world form. And sometimes a poem – or a piece of one – sets the tone for a small group of bold musicians to gather together in a glacial valley and improvise.

In the past many years, I have lived through these relationships with poetry, and many more. On June 10th, new worlds will indeed be formed with the theme of poetry. I will read a section of one of my poems at the beginning of each improvisation, collaborative sound will follow. And then we will repeat!

Part 3: Details for the Evening:
This FreeSessions will be filmed by Matt Anglen from Arts Missoula! Thank you to Matt and the Arts Missoula team for this generous offering! Also, this is an evening which will include a wide range of emotional intimacy and vulnerability. All who attend are welcome to explore internal terrain of great tenderness.

Linden Marie’s Website:

Ben Weiss & Jay Bruns present Sunday, May 6

A popular bumper sticker cautions that drum machines have no soul. We believe the exact opposite. Electronic music making equipment expands opportunities for musical expression and human connection and offers those opportunities to more people. New technology allows people to make unheard-before sounds. And, those sounds reflect the interests, experiences, influences, and limitations of their makers, no matter how they are made.

All sounds are defined by their pitch, timbre, duration, and volume. When it comes to musical sounds, instruments fall within certain parameters for each attribute. A guitar is a guitar and Bill Frisell sounds like Bill Frisell (with a lot of help from effects pedals and loopers, by the way). Similarly, drum machines, synthesizers and their players have sound palettes they are known for (and by which they are limited). Countless electronic artists have imbued their music with passion, sorrow, joy, and regret. The clockwork precision of a drum machine can render time irrelevant. Just as the electric guitar opened up new expressive possibilities for guitar players, so too do midi keyboards, iPad apps, and effects processors for both seasoned musicians and novice noise makers.

Jay and I have been improvising and recording music together for nearly a decade. We have both developed a pretty good idea of the types of sounds and decisions the other person may make. Though our instruments can acts as spaceships to a multitude of sonic universes, the sounds that come from our synthesizers and drum machines are our expressions.

Philip Glasshole began as an excuse for Jay to fiddle with new toys and for me to hone skills on my old one. Running a combination of software apps and mini synths, Jay Bruns concocts rhythms, shapes textures, and experiments with harmony and glitch. Many of the programs he uses were developed with user intuition in mind. They facilitate his musical curiosity. I typically craft drones and pluck out melodies on a virtual analog synthesizer Jay gave me. He facilitated my musical curiosity. We share an enthusiasm for testing new technology – filtering our experiences through new lenses – with those deservedly-maligned Glassholes. We try to temper any potential obnoxiousness by incorporating lessons learned from our other namesake: drone, pulse, ostinato, simple figures, repetition, and a belief that music is a continuous work in progress.

Our performances often move from the ambiance of the atmosphere to the pulse of the dance hall. We find transcendence in repetition and use it as a foundation from which we can experiment with timbre, tone, and rhythm. Our set at Free Sessions on May 6 will be its own performance and will sound like us. Despite the potential precision of our electronic instruments, there will be odd squelches, inexact execution, and other oddities that will be the result of the way we play that day. We fully expect to bare our souls.

That is what we ask of everyone else who plays in the free sessions: Bare your souls. After our set, we will spend a little time explaining what we know about how our instruments work and will have an assortment of electronic noise makers for people to try. Of course everyone is invited to bring their instruments as well. With the themes of synthesis and soul-baring in mind, we may ask that people find new approaches to the way they play. Run that horn through effects. Scratch those guitar strings. Tap the sides of the drum. You may just find a new way to connect with your music, your listener, and yourself.