Snow was rapidly melting around downtown Billings Friday afternoon (2/19) when I wandered by the Pub Station, hoping to catch up with owners Sean Lynch and Ann Kosempa. The ticket box was closed and taproom wasn't open yet (4 p.m.), so I snapped the pic and headed down the street. I had hoped to ask them about live music finally returning to the popular venue, with the announcement of their upcoming Socially Distanced Series.

Just as I was walking away, Sean pulled into the parking lot. Perfect timing. We talked a little bit about the steps they've been taking to get live shows back on the stage in Billings. It's been a long year since nearly all forms of entertainment came to a grinding halt and the live music industry has had a particularly difficult time opening back up. It's not like you can take a concert "to-go." There's no carryout available and there were very few options for curbside concerts. And let's be honest... watching streaming concerts online is just not the same. Like, at all.

Fans argue, with restrictions mostly lifted in Montana, why aren't we returning to "normal" more quickly with concerts? Lynch wants to remind concertgoers that many issues are still impacting the tour industry. A big problem is bands have nationwide touring routes, involving different COVID mandates in each state. Bands can't make it work if they have to skip five states to get to Montana, then skip two more states to get to the next show.

The good news is that live music is sloowwwly starting to return and concerts are on the board at the Pub Station beginning in March with the Socially Distances Series. Tickets are in "pods," limited to small groups of people at each pod or table and are very limited. If you want to see these bands, you better get on it.

Not part of the Socially Distanced Series, Buckcherry is scheduled for April 24th and Easton Corbin and Diamond Rio are still booked for August dates.

Lynch is dropping by my radio show next week to talk about the return of live music to Billings and the challenges involved. Watch for a follow-up story.

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