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.

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.

Ed Stalling & John Sporman present Sunday, April 8

The Seabag Letters

The canvas seabag went everywhere with my father during WWII. The place names
written on it tell their own story: Pearl Harbor, Saipan, Tinian, Iwo Jima, and
Kyusha Japan (Nagasaki). It sat in the corner of an attic for 60 years. Dad died,
mom moved to assisted living, we cleaned out the house and the seabag came with
me to Missoula. I didn’t know the empty ammo clip was in it until TSA saw it at the
Minneapolis airport. They detained me, emptied out the full contents, and called in
the head honcho. She asked me to explain the giant stack of old letters – all bundled
and tied with twine. The tough TSA woman said, “Now you’ve made me cry.” She
ordered the paperwork torn up and everything to be carefully placed back in the
bag, looked at me through tears and said, “These are so precious, my grandfather
was in WWII, get out of here and don’t say anything.”

All the letters written to dad from 1943 to 1951 are in that bag. Now, 75 years
later, I’m opening the letters from his father who’s on a ship in the Pacific; from his
brother writing from a foxhole on the front line in Italy; from an aunt back home on
her farm, and from girlfriends hoping the war is quickly over. One particularly
persistent writer is fifteen years old in her first letter and eighteen in her last. She
writes about how they’ll marry someday and name their first son Eddie Jr., which is
precisely what they do.

The writers share their experiences and thoughts: stories of tragedy, concern, love,
fear, daily life, and news of the day. They reminisce about good times from the past
and express hope for a better future. They hope that they will simply see each other
again someday.

John and I will use this session as an incubator for a larger project to tell these
stories. I want to hear how musicians across genres, genders, and ages react to the
stories and put them to sound. To kick it off, John Sporman and I will use my
father’s own reflections about his experiences in the war — especially about the first
wave of Iwo Jima — as creative triggers to freely improvise sound.

We’ll then create multiple small-group sessions – that’s you — and read excerpts
from the seabag letters. Together you’ll use those words as creative triggers to put
those stories – be it emotions, themes, concepts – into sound. We will record the
FreeSessions to use as ideas in a bigger project to come.

While you are welcome to just come and observe, the primary purpose of this
session is creation from a diverse group of musicians — so we encourage you to
come with your instruments, an open mind and heart, and most of all, your ears.

Drummer/Percussionist Ed Stalling moved to Missoula is 2006 from Minneapolis where he played with several jazz big bands and in over thirty musical-theater productions. You see him on stages all over the state with The John Floridis Trio, Ed Norton Big Band, Captain Wilson Conspiracy, Basement Boyz, Jim Driscoll Trio, Kimberlee Carlson, Joan Zen Jazz, and Contra Brasil. Inducted into the Missoula Blues and Jazz Society “Hall of Fame” in 2016, Ed likes to “gives back” by helping with all three local high schools jazz bands, and teaching out of his home studio.

John Sporman is a Missoula-based musician and composer. After studying music composition and technology at the University of Montana, John moved on to score over 30 silent movies, dance shows and theatrical productions. He has scored for The International Wildlife Film Festival, The Big Sky Documentary Film Festival, The Bozeman Film Society, Bare Bait Dance, The Montana Repertory Theatre, MCT Community Theatre, Sunshine Unlimited, Viscosity Theatre and for an array of independent artists. John is currently working as a national touring musician.