Why not here? Big music in a small town.

Husband’s checking the air on the pickup tires and I just changed my guitar strings. Tomorrow morning bright and early we’re loading up our boots and guitars (and coolers) and heading west to the Red Ants Pants Music Festival in White Sulphur Springs, Montana.

Or, more accurately, a cow pasture near White Sulphur Springs, Montana.

I’m pretty excited. Because look down here, look close under Charley Pride and Brandi Carlile, Ian Tyson, Corb Lund and Holly Williams.

See it there, my name? Jessie Veeder. I made the poster.


Which means I also made the big stage and I can’t wait to play on it out under that big Montana Sky with some of my favorite musicians standing next to me, and more on the roster to take the stage throughout the weekend.

This festival is near and dear to my heart for so many reasons, the brain child of Sarah Calhoun, founder and inventor of Red Ants Pants, tough work pants that for women, this festival proves that real music about real people playing real instruments still pulls at audiences from all walks of life creating a kind of crowd a girl like me dreams of playing for night after night. 

Sarah is one of those kick-ass women who is sweet and tough and smart and just ballsy enough to not only start her own business in a small town in rural Montana, but to bring big musical acts to that same small town in the name of doing some good here.

Sarah’s non-profit, the Red Ants Pants Foundation, was founded in support of women’s leadership, working family farms and ranches, and rural communities. The proceeds of this festival benefit the non-profit’s grants and help run timber-skils and women’s leadership programs. 

If I could have Sarah over for drinks on Saturday nights I think the two of us could get into some trouble.

Today there was a little story on me in Missoula, Montana’s paper, The Missoulian, in preparation for my trip to Red Ants. Read it here:

Bakken-area singer/songwriter moves to Red Ants main stage
by Megan Marolf
The Missoulian 

So many times in my life I have been asked why not Nashville? Why not L.A. or New York? Why don’t you try to make it somewhere

Some days I have wondered these things myself.

And then I ask, Why not here? Why not home?

I think that’s what Sarah was thinking when she dared to make a big ass plan for a small town.

And I have to say, me and the couple thousand people making the trek to the middle of Montana this weekend, we just love her for it.

See ya there!


Sunday Column: What makes a summer

Well, we made it back from the edge of the Montana mountains late last night. We were a wagon train of two pickups headed west, our cargo of guitars and sleeping bags, boots and coolers of beer, musicians and friends, a little more dusty than when we arrived in that Montana cow pasture ringing with music on Friday.

It was a long haul. 800 some miles, three small town diner stops,

countless fuel-ups, sunflower seeds and coffee refills  and only one “could have been major but actually turned out ok for once” pickup hiccup on the interstate east of Billings, MT.

Because, as Husband says, “It isn’t an adventure until it’s an adventure.”

And so we had one out in White Sulphur Springs, Montana, a bunch of neighbors and friends from the oil fields of North Dakota headed west to hear Merle Haggard sing “Momma Tried” and pick a little themselves on stage and around the campsite at night.

I’m home now with the memory of it turning the corners of my lips up a bit as I unpack and pack my bags again to head east for another gig.

I go to Devils Lake, ND today to sing in a park, but the band will stay home. They have work to do and things to catch up on so I’ll go it alone and that’s alright.

Although it’s always more fun with the boys around.

It’s going to be August in a few days.

August. The last month of summer at the ranch, rolling in with big thunderheads, sunflowers, prairie grass and wheat that turns gold over night.

Summer is fleeting here and I’ve spent this season chasing it–behind my camera, on the highway, on the back of a horse, on the top of a hill, down in the cool draws and behind my computer making plans.

I wish it were longer. Everyone does. But it doesn’t matter really. I’ll think of summer when the snow falls outside my window in December and I won’t think about its lifespan.

I’ll think about the life we put into it.

Coming Home: Berry season brings good intentions
By Jessie Veeder
Fargo Forum

Because summer means so many things to me, and so I’m happy to be here in it while it lasts…whether it’s picking wild raspberries in a cool draw on our North Dakota ranch

 or singing to the wild landscape and wild, wonderful people of Montana!

I’m glad to be home for a minute, and then I’m glad to be on the road.

 See you in Devil’s Lake tonight!