The FreeSessions by Lakebottom Sound
First Sundays at Imagine Nation Brewing Company
6:00 - 8:00pm

The FreeSessions is an improvised music jam session to promote collaboration amongst musicians in Missoula across genres and ages. Our aim is to cultivate a healthy musical eco-system in Missoula. We are fostering a climate of improvisation, transcending musical styles and structures. This session is to encourage active listening among all participants and a full acceptance of all musicians. It is a place to grow your musicality and yourself.

The FreeSessions is an incubation ground for new musical projects and collaborations. Every month a curator presents a new piece of music or concept or improvisation for the first 30 minutes.

The FreeSessions occur on the first Sunday of the month at Imagine Nation Brewing Company.

How it works:

Following the curator’s presentation, participants are invited to be a part of group improvisations throughout the rest of the evening. To participate, please sign up upon arrival. Session facilitators will help arrange groups. The curator may or may not set a theme to guide the improvisations.

We encourage participants to read the curator’s blog post prior to the session.

Mia Soza presents Sunday, July 7

Dear Sarah,

I know I haven’t been good about keeping you in the loop with what I’m up to, and I’m sorry. You forget how quickly life can pass you by when you’re focused on reaching that next point just beyond your grasp. I will do my best to get you up to speed in the most succinct way possible, and hope months don’t pass us by between our next correspondence.

You know better than most that I have lived behind walls I built myself and guard them with a sharpened tongue… But is that so wrong? Really, who can be trusted more than myself? I’ll take this moment to apologize to you right now, because I know being my sister has not always been the best relationship of mutual expression or sharing, but I am working to change this. I am abandoning my old ways and calling upon myself to cast a spell: OPEN GATE.

Next Sunday I’ll be performing a piece that will combine aspects of performance I have always acknowledged but never fully explored, partially due to fear of vulnerability and partially because I wasn’t ready to look at the ways hurt flows to and from me. I have used performance as a form of protection, and now I intend to use it to heal.

As we grow older we seem to near in age, and I am excited to connect with you in ways we haven’t been able to prior. I’ll record this performance for you so you can watch it later, I’ll be blindfolded so I won’t have to watch the audience see me… Even after all the performing I’ve done I still get bad stage fright. Remember when we’d hide behind those heavy velvet curtains at Westminster and chug dime store lemonade before our solos? Hands sweaty and shaking?

You were always the better performer than I so maybe you don’t, but I do.

Talk soon, see you eventually.


Photos courtesy of Walt Pfau

Bill Kautz presents Sunday, June 2

Duke Ellington said that “simplicity is a most complex form”.

The true nature of our ideas are not inherently complex, but we sometimes make them so. Trying to codify our thoughts and feelings into a specific language can sometimes result in the essence of the feeling getting diminished, lost, confused or transformed. This is a significant reason why I embrace improvisational music because I find that myself, and others, are much more in tune to themselves through this method of communication. However, I can still find myself “talking” too much as I search for a focal point or a sense of meaning with my playing. I can then lose or miss the true meaning of the improvisation at that given moment.

The curation tonight will focus on reflecting on our individual roots and history through the aid of film and images. Family, childhood, home, history, an awareness of how things have changed and more will be explored. Musicians will be improvising to film clips never before seen with a cache of graphic notation prompts and prompts to just encounter and improvise. All are at each individual’s discretion. The aim is to score these film clips in real time with complete presence and simplicity. As each of us has very different backgrounds we will place our own reaction into the collective. There may be synergy. There may be conflict and opposition. There may be confusion. We will allow the opportunity for any of those ideas to form during our time.

Following the curation, I want all of us to focus on the true nature of what we are trying to communicate and aim to be simple. Every improvisation will have a unique image projected as your prompt. Please study it before you begin. Please get to know one another before you begin. Then proceed with simple ideas and explore how they can be stretched and altered during the time you have together.

Even if we present opposing views, we can create a space where we can listen, reflect and get in touch with the true nature surrounding each message.

I look forward to seeing you on June 2nd.

Neil Welch presents Sunday, May 5


I am thrilled to perform for you and alongside you at the FreeSessions tonight. Thank you for welcoming me to Missoula.

My solo, acoustic works are impermanent auditory constellations—particulate structures, strata, monoliths, and dust—resonance imaginations on tenor, c soprano, alto and bass saxophones. I aim to cast light into my own notion of abstract sound/silences through various means:

multiphonics, screaming into the horn, phases of conical tone undulations, graphic notations, key clacking, tempered pitches, semitones, wind

In our collective improvisations to follow, I ask that each performer consider the role of their physical and artistic presence while on stage. Can we capture the inherent qualities of our performance space at Imagine Nation through our audience’s participation? Can we value sound/silence as an infinitely flexible tool? How might our longing for momentary expressivity impact our improvisations to follow? To begin our open session, I suggest that we approach these questions and more through a physically additive method. I ask that we begin by slowly increasing our performers in number—a solo performance followed by a duo, a trio, a quartet.

I am deeply thankful to play the FreeSessions, and I look forward to our evening together

-Neil Welch

Noelle Huser and Koby Silverman present Sunday, April 7

Koby and Noelle’s Sunday Postal Service

7th, 2019

US postal service does not deliver on Sunday. Oh NOOO!!! How will you communicate with your loved ones?

with us on Sunday, meet your new pen pal and exchange your inner messages with an instrument.


expression can describe emotions that can be expressed no other way. This Sunday, we exercise our empathy, absorbing and articulating nonverbal energy and finding fluid conversation.

in touch with your emotions…

Brian West presents Sunday March 3rd

The vast majority of the universe is empty space. The diameter of the Earth is just under 8000 miles, while the distance to Venus, our nearest planetary neighbor is at least 23 million miles. The scale of emptiness dwarfs the space occupied by solid ground by a factor of almost 3000. When considering the 3 dimensional volume that they occupy instead of just the linear distance, this disparity balloons to a factor of 50,000,000,000,000. That’s 50 trillion. In a cube-shaped space defined by the minimum distance from Earth to Venus, there is 50 trillion times as much empty space as the volume of the Earth. The distance between the sun and its nearest stellar neighbor is much larger, even in relations to the sun’s much greater size. The distance to Alpha Centauri is 30,000 times greater than the diameter of the sun. This vast emptiness repeats itself on every scale throughout the universe, the distances between planets, then between stars, then between galaxies rapidly growing so large that they can only be understood through metaphors. Everything we’ve ever experienced, everything we’ve ever heard or touched, every idea we’ve ever contemplated has all taken place on this one tiny island in an incomprehensibly vast sea. It is no wonder our minds are entirely unequipped to comprehend the distances between the stars, let alone between distant galaxies. We can try to grapple with this unnatural understanding by thinking that the light reaching us now from our nearest galactic neighbor left there two and a half million years ago. That light has been traveling across an empty void for more than ten times as long as the human race has existed. But even this metaphorical crutch suffers from the fatal weakness that light already travels so fast that it strains our ability to even conceive it.

The overwhelming emptiness of the universe even exists at the micro level. Not only are planets and stars and galaxies isolated islands in a sea of empty space, but even so called “solid matter” is composed almost entirely of empty space. Atoms are composed of a core of protons and neutrons, orbited by a cloud of electrons. Protons and neutrons occupy a tiny fraction of the space of the atom, while most of the space of the atom is filled by the fast moving cloud of electrons. But electrons make up almost none of the mass of the atom. They are so tiny they practically don’t exist, and certainly not as “solid matter”. It is only the repulsive force of negative against negative that keeps the atoms of your body from phasing through the atoms of the object you carry, the person you embrace or the very earth you stand on.

In such a universe, dominated on every scale by empty space, it’s no wonder that so many of us so often feel an overwhelming sense of emptiness. The human spirit is a vessel, and fulfilling experiences are called such precisely because they fill that vessel. But our cup has a hole in it, no matter how many fulfilling activities you’ve pursued in the past, they must be periodically pursued. Music, dance, poetry and other such activities must periodically refill the vessel, otherwise we feel ourselves returning to the emptiness from which we all come and to which we all return.

Photo cred Donal Lakatua

Caroline Keys presents Sunday, February 3

FreeSessions: SoupHerBowl Sunday AKA SuperbHole Sunday
February 3rd, 2019
Curated by Caroline Keys

Caroline Keys curates Lakebottom Sound’s February 2019 FreeSessions. The event will take place during Superbowl LII. The theme of the evening will be SoupHerBowl Sunday AKA SuperbHole Sunday.

During the presentation portion of the evening I will ask for group participation in order to brainstorm elements of the championship football game, it’s rules, equipment, traditions, and emotions. Any respectful, compassionate term “in the key of Superbowl” will be fair game to be included in the brainstorming session. Ie: anything from scrimmage lines to referees, from Janet Jackson to nacho cheese works.

Out of the group’s brainstorming session I will assemble as many sets of constraints as we have sets of improv duos in the room. Each duo will receive a group-generated prompt/constraint that will inform their improvisation. Brainstorm session takes place at 6pm, improv begins at 6:30. Duos may consist of participants working with sound, movement, visual media, words, light, flavor, vibration.

SoupHerBowl Sunday
SuperbHole Sunday
will deconstruct, reorganize, and perhaps feminize your Superbowl experience.

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.