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Libby theater to screen Mission Mountain Wood Bank documentary

by Western News
| October 29, 2009 12:00 AM

The Mission Mountain Wood Band is coming to the big screen.

A special screening of the MontanaPBS documentary, “Never Long Gone: The Mission Mountain Wood Band Story” is coming to the Dome Theater in Libby on Thursday, Nov. 5. MontanaPBS officials said Libby was chosen because it is the hometown of band member Steve Riddle.

The screening is free but MontanaPBS is accepting those willing to offer contributions.

“Never Long Gone” recounts the spirited journey Riddle, Rob Quist, Terry Robinson, Christian Johnson and Greg Reichenberg took after forming the Mission Mountain Wood Band in 1971. The group went on to become one of the nation's hottest performance bands and put thousands of miles on a converted 1955 Scenic Cruiser bus.

Singing ballads, old timey tunes and original songs like "Mountain Standard Time" and “Big Sky Country Sun,” they continually perfected their musicianship and professionalism to the point where they were guest stars on national TV programs like the Cheryl Ladd Special and Hee Haw.

The documentary includes rarely seen footage of the guys as they toured around the country and highlights the unique time in which they grew. Wives, roadies, friends and fans also share memories about the band’s passionate run at fame.

In the early 1970s, the five young men from the University of Montana came blazing out of the chutes, flailing away at banjos, mandolins, strumming guitars, thwapping the bass, and kicking out drum beats like wild men. The group’s rousing mix of music defied category, generations, social strata – even the contentious politics of the times.

In 1987, Robinson – who was playing with an offshoot called the Montana Band – was killed in a plane crash near Flathead Lake. M2WB reunited in 1992 and has played various venues in recent years.

As a retrospective, “Never Long Gone” is being called a tribute to the down-home Montanans, as well as their fans, friends and admirers.

The band recently performed in WOODROCK ’09: Rockin’ the Ball Park in Libby – a fundraiser hosted by the Libby High School Class of 1984.

Besides Libby, screenings of the program will also take place at the UC Theater in Missoula on Nov. 4 and at Glacier High School in Kalispell on Nov. 6.

The program will air on MontanaPBS across the state on Nov. 15.