The Hyalite Sessions: Madeline Hawthorne

By Taylor Barrett

Music has been a part of Madeline Hawthorne’s life for about as long as she can remember. With her mother studying at The New England Conservatory of Music and her father studying at Berklee College of Music, she was inspired by their musical lifestyle. Whether it was a piano, classical guitar, or simply a recorder, Madeline and her siblings were always exploring music with the guidance of their musically gifted parents.

With her parents studying classical and jazz, Madeline has always enjoyed writing, playing, and performing music. Even if it was simply entertaining family friends, she has always felt at home as a performer, mentioning how she loves staring into the audience and feeling the crowd’s energy. Much like any other musician or entertainer, she wants to get the crowd going above all else!

The ironic thing about Madeline’s story is that she never saw herself as a full-time musician. She originally moved to Bozeman to study Business at Montana State University and later graduated with her Bachelor’s Degree in Liberal Studies and Master’s Degree in Food Sustainability. But after a while, it became clear that it was time to dive headfirst into recording and touring full-time. At the same time that this felt nerve-wracking, it felt like the perfect thing to do.

Madeline began touring with her band, The Hawthorne Roots, which included her sister Emma and several other talented Bozeman musicians. The band had a strong run for a few years, but faced the difficulties of Covid-19, sparking the cancellation of their entire tour.

But as the Hawthorne Roots time came to a close, another door opened when Madeline started writing after the lockdown during spring of 2020. What began as a journal entry ended up as a collection of the lyrics that would form her debut solo album, Boots. Starting with what she described as a flow of consciousness, she began to release everything that had built up in her mind, unaware of many of these thoughts until now. After jotting down these thoughts, Madeline started removing bits and pieces that formed the lyrics for all ten songs on the album.

In anticipation of Boots, we present our latest Hyalite Session featuring Madeline Hawthorne, including three songs from the upcoming album. Enjoy the live session and behind-the-scenes interview!

Photos by Dan Bradner

Set List: Boots / Pendulum / Joker

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The Hyalite Sessions: Cole Thorne

By Taylor Barrett

Learning to play piano in just the third grade, music has been a part of Cole Thorne’s life for about as long as she can remember. Growing up in a family of musicians, it was a tradition, a birthright. With her father playing guitar and her grandparents being touring musicians, Thorne was inspired to follow the same path. After moving to Bozeman and finding some musicians she meshed with, she formed Cole & The Thornes. Together they form a 6-piece band, including Cole Thorne on ukulele and guitar, Jess Atkins on lead guitar, Jordan Rodenbiker on bass, Alex Platt on drums, Adam Burke on auxiliary percussion, and Daniel Wood on trumpet. They released their debut album, Map Maker, in 2018.

Considering themselves a “mountain-reggae infused soul band”, you will hear many influences, from reggae and soul, to jazz and jam music. Together with the Thorne’s incredible vocals and frequent horn solos, you will find something both relaxing and danceable!

Cole Thorne brings us a solo acoustic set with a couple of new songs!

Set List: Nostalgia / Tides / Be Here Now

Follow Cole Thorne – Instagram | Facebook

The Hyalite Sessions: Joe Knapp

By Taylor Barrett & Colter Olmstead

From the archives, our first edition of The Hyalite Sessions featuring Joe Knapp, initially released June, 2019. Originally a four part series, it is now available in full! Enjoy his incredible singing, songwriting, and fingerpicking, performing four original songs.

Set List: Hold Out / Little A Rag / Find Me in the Morning / Go to sleep….!

Follow Joe Knapp – Instagram | Facebook

The Hyalite Sessions: Zach McKinley

By Taylor Barrett, Antonio Wellman, Max Wellman

Zach Mckinley is a familiar face around Bozeman–you might find him playing solo at Zocalo Coffee House, with his band, Gear Horse, at the Haufbrau, and even taking the stage with King Ropes at The Rialto. Whatever setting you see him in, and whatever genre he’s playing, one thing is obvious, McKinley’s talented. And lucky for us, he’s sharing that talent for the second time this year.. Zach McKinley recently released his latest solo album, Pocatello, following up his release earlier this year, She Don’t Got Time For Losers. For Pocatello, McKinley brought a full band, including acoustic and electric guitar, 12-string guitar, bass, banjo, percussion, and drums. It’s a full house.

Pocatello oscillates between intensely personal, and entirely fictitious songs posed over a multitude of genres. The album puts you in the head of a “Sad Bastard” spinning tales that involve adultery, murder, and the Wild West days of Virginia City. Listen to the album on Bandcamp and check out a few live renditions in our latest Hyalite Session.

The Hyalite Sessions: Dillon Mora

Dillon Mora, originally of Kalamazzoo, Michigan, moved to Bozeman to study at MSU and with him he brought his musicianship and songwriting abilities. Originally inspired by playing bass to metal bands such as Metallica, you can find Mora playing a much mellower repertoire of originals these days. It wasn’t until college that he picked up the guitar, but anymore you will find him writing a majority of his songs for solo acoustic guitar. Inspired by running and trails, Mora’s song radiate energy and enthusiasm. From the influence of White Stripes, The Black Keys, and Johnny Cash, you will find yourself listening to what might he considers “alternative folk punk”. Some of Mora’s favorite locals are Left on Tenth, Joe Knapp, and Tsunami Funk. He is currently working on a solo album, which we will keep you informed on the release date!

The Hyalite Sessions: Jacob Rountree

By Taylor Barrett & Max Wellman

Jacob Rountree came to Bozeman for much the same reason a lot of us make it to the college town: to go to school. Jacob came to Bozeman to study engineering but he found Montana to be the perfect place to hone his skills as a photographer and find inspiration to write music. Jacob has a unique ability to tell stories through his songwriting, crafting vocals filled with emotion and interweaving them with interesting guitar melodies. Often strumming the strings and tapping the body of his guitar with his hand to create percussion, Jacob draws influence from indie acoustic artists such as Ben Howard, who inspire him to use his instrument of choice for more than just playing the guitar.

Jacob has a unique sound and an interesting perspective of what it means to live in Montana, and he brings all of this to his music. When playing live, he is accompanied by Marcus Bendon on drums, and Leah Dobby on bass and vocals. We’re proud to present Jacob Rountree in our latest installment of the Hyalite Sessions, and if you’re interested in learning more, be sure to check out our first episode of The Hyalite Sessions: Behind the Scenes.

Set List: Set a Fire / Vertigo / Nothing Arrives

Listen on Spotify, Apple Music, or SoundCloud

Follow Jacob Rountree on Instagram, Facebook, and Youtube

The Hyalite Sessions: Antonio .R.M.W.

By Taylor Barrett & Max Wellman

A lot of you will recognize Antonio as the Hyalite’s music editor––you can find his name on our album reviews and often credited as writing the music we use in our videos. Antonio is a talented musician, so we thought we would showcase some of his original music in our latest Hyalite Session.

Antonio performed his composition, “Tumultuous Bliss,” a song that has seen multiple live iterations over the course of six years. The first time we saw it performed was for his senior capstone project when he was pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Technology at Montana State University. Since then, he’s performed the composition at multiple shows throughout Montana, but it’s not old hat. “Tumultuous Bliss” morphs and changes every time it’s performed, and that’s the point. Antonio is striving to make electronic music that retains the imperfection inherent within improvisation and the human condition, and this session is a prime example of him putting the theory into practice. 

Find Antonio’s music on Bandcamp 

The Hyalite Sessions: Mune

By Taylor Barrett & Max Wellman

Mune is a guitar-based solo project by Harley Larson, with an effort to incorporate acoustic and electric guitar arrangements through as many styles as possible. “All of the music I have been working on has been a recent push in my life to explore every avenue I can possibly take for making music and improvisation,” said Larson. “I prepared all new songs for the Hyalite session in the spirit of creating new and original sounds.”

And Larson did just that. This Hyalite session is one that we are having trouble putting our finger on … there’s notes of folk, rock, indie, jam music, and much more that come through with just one guitarist, which is pretty spectacular. Mune brought us original songs that no one has ever heard before, just so we can share them with you. We hope you enjoy!

Set List: Life’s Long Lasting Love / Carpet Ride / The Knock / Minute Man / Minds Eye

Follow Harley on Instagram

The Hyalite Sessions: Amanda Stewart

By Taylor Barrett

With recent recognition from the Bozeman’s Choice Awards for being one of the top three Best Local Solo Musicians, Amanda Stewart brings fluent rhythm and an incredibly powerful voice to the stage. Creating a medley of folk, americana, country, bluegrass, and rock, Stewart ties all of her inspirations into one cohesive and original style. Starting in 2009 with her first show in Missoula, Stewart now tours consistently throughout the local region. When she’s not playing solo gigs at the Murray Bar or Pine Creek Lodge, you can find her playing with her band, Sweet Sage. Stewart’s a local pride of Montana, and it’s easy to see why.

Set List: The Fear / Odyssey / Liar / Out of the Ashes

Follow Amanda Stewart – Instagram | Facebook

The Hyalite Sessions: The Jonathan Kennedy Connection

By Taylor Barrett

Jonathan Kennedy has been playing music for pretty much his whole life, working as a solo artist and playing in several groups, including Magic Castles and The Richard Lloyd Trio. Today, Kennedy goes by The Jonathan Kennedy Connection, and it’s a concept that began way back in middle school. It’s the idea of an interaction between two things––whether that be spiritual, social, or even drug interactions. Kennedy is trying to make music that exemplifies the bond between two distinct entities.

Kennedy began recording under the name The Jonathan Kennedy Connection after leaving his latest gig playing for Magic Castles. He took his skills as a multi-instrumentalist and recorded himself with a 4 track cassette recorder. After a while, this was no longer sufficient for his vision of where he wanted The Connection to go. After acquiring a new synth and the equipment he needed to run a few programs, he was on his way to producing what he now describes as “electronic folk”. We sat down with Kennedy to see just what he’s been up to. 

The Jonathan Kennedy Connection will release their debut EP in early spring of 2020. Be on the lookout and enjoy the new Hyalite Session!

Desperate Electric

By Max Wellman

For us, listening to Desperate Electric (formerly known as DASH) is a bit like drinking a cold beer on a Friday night. It’s refreshing and laid back, it makes you want to laugh with some close friends, and it also makes you want to fucking party. 

Press Photo Spring 19

We sat down with Ben and Kayti, the two founding members of Desperate Electric, and our conversation started with Kayti telling jokes and Ben playing licks on the guitar. Like their music, Desperate Electric is fun, and they impart this energy and charisma into everything that they do.

Both Kayti and Ben grew up in the West––Kayti from Laurel, Montana and Ben from Moscow, Idaho. Attending college in Bozeman, they met in choir and have pretty much been playing music together since, performing along side each other in multiple bands and eventually starting Desperate Electric. The band has been through a lot this past year, but they made it work, and they’re both just happy to be able to share their music.

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Desperate Electric is a full time touring act, playing shows around the country most of the year, but they still see Bozeman as home. There’s a beauty in this––Kayti and Ben are musical nomads, they spend most of their time on the road and there’s no need to root themselves anywhere, but even so, they always find their way back to Montana. When asked about why they see Bozeman as home, Kayti told us that after everywhere they’ve been, they “don’t love anywhere as much as here.” And that’s something to be proud of. 

Part of understanding Desperate Electric is also understanding the current trends in Bozeman’s music scene. While in the past, to make it as a band there was pressure to move to Seattle or LA, more and more you can find bands that tour full time but always come back to Montana, never making the move to the metropolitan areas where many musicians flock to find success. Bozeman is Desperate Electric’s home, and they don’t really see that changing anytime soon.


Ben told us that Bozeman’s music scene “is hungry … and it’s not the same anywhere else.” With numerous bands and many more talented musicians, it’s hard to find a similar culture. There’s something about Bozeman that cultivates inspiration and draws talented folks, and Desperate Electric harnesses this energy to make music that exemplifies the community.

Kayti told us that their music is somewhere between electro-soul and electro-funk, even though both of them wish they could say that they make music in the genre of “we do whatever we want.” This speaks to Bozeman’s music scene at large. With the amount of talented bands and musicians in one town, Desperate Electric finds support for everything they do, and that’s what makes Bozeman home. They can make whatever music they want and still find an audience.


Maybe it’s the scenery or the supportive community, or maybe it’s the vast amount of bands playing shows in the Gallatin Valley on a regular basis. Whatever it is, we’re happy it’s happening, and we’re happy to see bands like Desperate Electric find their groove and make a name for themselves outside of Montana without having to pack up and move. At the end of our conversation, Ben left us with a piece of advice for aspiring musicians in Montana: “Don’t move to LA.” And really, we agree. Stay here. Find your favorite local act, head out for the night and enjoy your weekend. It doesn’t need to be much more complicated than that.

Check out Desperate Electric’s second album, Super: The Remix, featuring many of Montana’s favorite bands and musicians, stream their music on Spotify, catch them on tour, and be sure to watch their Hyalite Session where the two perform a stripped down version of their song “Hopeless”, filmed by our very own Taylor Barrett (video below).

Studio photos by Patch William | Live shots by Jonathan Spear

Follow Desperate Electric – Instagram | Facebook

Joe Knapp: The Man of Many Bands

By Taylor Barrett & Max Wellman

Joe Knapp, a Bozeman singer-songwriter, frequently entertains the many breweries, bars, restaurants, and venues in the surrounding valley, always accompanied by a plethora of original songs. From Pine Creek Lodge in Paradise Valley to Bozeman Hot Springs, Knapp is a staple of the local music scene––playing solo shows in the greater Bozeman area and appearing in several bands.


But Joe’s status as a sought after performer and musician in the Bozeman area didn’t come without work. Joe learned to play piano at the age of eight, taught by a Ragtime piano player, J. Althea. He quickly picked up the keys and soon became enthralled with music, performing and composing. After learning to play piano, Joe began playing his first concerts when he was in grade school, but it wasn’t until he turned sixteen that Joe found his passion for guitar. Joe purchased his first electric guitar, a replica Stratocaster from Bizarre Guitars, while he was visiting his uncle in Reno, Nevada.

Growing up in Juneau, Alaska, Joe was always fond of the outdoors. Along with growing up in Alaska, Knapp also studied in Hawaii and Montana during a teaching exchange, inspired by his mother who was a literature teacher and his father who was a history teacher. Knapp became fascinated with all of these states––finding passion in the beaches of Hawaii and the mountains of Montana that ring with faint echoes of Alaska.

At 14, Knapp’s family moved to Bozeman, and he’s pretty much been here ever since. Joe said that he enjoys the simplicity of life in Montana––the fact that people aren’t as money or ego driven, that we have plenty of clean air, and possibly the most important: the “ridiculous” amount of talented musicians in the area.

Joe Knapp 1

After transitioning to life in Bozeman, Joe committed himself to playing guitar, and his hobby morphed into an obsession. Originally inspired by artists such as Willie Nelson, Hank Williams, and Bob Dylan, Knapp’s interest in electric guitar was heightened by Guns n Roses, and even more so by one of the most influential bands of the twentieth century: Nirvana. Nirvana was hugely influential in Joe’s conception of what music is, and what it could be. He told us that he realized Nirvana was “more so art, than just music,” making him challenge his perception of music and dive head first into what would eventually become his career. After listening to Nirvana, Joe told us that “all [he] ever wanted to do was play music.”

As he continued to explore what music meant to him, Knapp became interested in artists such as Miles Davis, The Grateful Dead, and Jimi Hendrix (after taking a break from the “louder stuff,” he told us). He was also largely influenced by local musicians, including Adam Platt, Ben Spangler, Paul Rose, Chris Donahue (aka “Donnie Evil”), Nels Cline, and Kelly Roberti. But Joe’s passion isn’t completely derived from the riffs of old, he also draws influence from the landscape of Montana, his home in Alaska, and one of his favorite places to visit: Hawaii.

The Dead YellersKnapp told us that “the amount of great and inspirational people” is a large reason to stick around Bozeman, but every once in a while, he still needs to escape and see more of the world. Joe has done extensive road tripping around the United States, traveled to New Zealand and Australia, and he toured Europe after graduating high school. For Joe, traveling and music are inseparable––bringing his guitar with him whenever possible as a way to absorb and reproduce the natural beauty and the myriad cultures the world has to offer.

And Joe has held true to the outlook acquired from his musical heroes and the places he calls home, from performing all over the state, teaching guitar lessons, and working for Music Villa, Knapp continues to devote his life to the pursuit of music and everything adjacent.

Kelly Nicholson Band

Joe performs as Slomojoe, a solo act, duo, and trio act, and as Slomojoe and the Knowshows, depending on the atmosphere and venue, letting him cater to the crowd’s mood (or his). Joe is also a member of The Salamanders, The Dead Yellers, Kelly Nicholson Band, Dead Sky (Grateful Dead Tribute Band), and The Freakout Live Band. You can find Knapp playing everything from original songs to roots music to blues and country blues to psychedelic rock. In other words, Joe is a musician of many hats (and subsequently many guitars).

Joe also collaborates with a lot of local artists, such as Peter King, Chelsea Hunt, John Sanders, and Dan Ruggles. Knapp also mentioned several local artists that he admires, including Craig Hall, Rick Winking, Bill Dwyer, Dan Bearsford, Mike Gillan, the Rasmussen Family, John Usher, Jake Fleming, and the Kirchner Family––showing just how embedded Joe is in the local music culture of Bozeman.


While Joe’s primary passion is performing music, his talents also manifest themselves into teaching others the tricks of the trade, hoping to help others realize there’s more to music than just notes in the air––music can also be a lifestyle or just a way to escape the tedium of everyday life. Whatever the reason is, Joe is just happy to see someone pick up a guitar.

Yes, Joe is a musician, a very talented musician in fact. And yes, he plays in a lot of local bands and has his hand in a lot of local projects. But for Joe, all of the work he does in Bozeman doesn’t end on the stage, it just starts there. Every time you see Joe perform, you’re seeing a little piece of himself, his experiences, and his community. For Joe, music is about sharing his philosophies with others, and one of his philosophies is that music can make Bozeman, and the world, a little more pleasant (at least on the ears).

The Salamanders

Check out some of Knapp’s original songs below (filmed by our very own Taylor Barrett, alongside Colter Olmstead) or find him around town playing in, well, a lot of bands.

Photos by Taylor Barrett and Steve Winslow

The Hyalite Sessions: Joe Knapp aka SlomoJoe

Follow Joe Knapp – Instagram | Facebook