Monk’s Feature Friday: Montana Skies, Cello and Guitar Fusion Duo


Montana Skies is not only the name of a dynamic cello and guitar fusion duo, it is also the title of the first song Jon and Jenn composed.

The name of the band, Montana Skies, has nothing to do with the band members living in or being from Montana, but the power of spending time in Montana and inspiration that comes from being here.

Jon attended Montana State University and studied with one of the world’s leading classical guitarists, Christopher Parkening. During Jon’s time in Montana not only did the beauty of the big sky inspire him, but Montana also gave him a feeling or idea of “no boundaries.” As big as the sky is in Montana, so is music to Jenn and Jon.

For both artists the name Montana Skies involves a vision and theme that indicates who they are as performers. Jenn states, “The name is a mission statement, Montana Skies is a metaphor for coming from a place of joy and sharing our music with people to bring them joy.”

The guitar/cello fusion duo Montana Skies

According to Jenn and Jon, one of the best parts of traveling and performing is the community outreach. They enjoy the opportunity to work with other artists, share their knowledge, and work with students.

Montana Skies is asked about twenty percent of the time to guest speak at colleges or public schools. They teach classes to help encourage musical freedom, in order to broaden other artists’ ideas as to where music can be taken.

Due to Montana Skies mission of having no boundaries, the duo is composing and performing with that theory of musical freedom always in mind. They combine acoustic guitar with amplified cello and mix it with classical music, jazz, and good old rock n’ roll.

Their rendition of House of the Rising Sun causes chills when Jenn moves her body, cello, bow, and strings to the chorus of the song. Jon’s opening beats, pounds, and strums make for instant energy in an original titled “L.C.P”. In concert, the musicians will perform compositions from Vivaldi to Pink Floyd as well as their own originals.

The guitar/cello fusion duo Montana Skies

In other songs Jenn uses a six-string, electric cello. Unlike the large upright cello, this one is very small in size. The middle strings of the six string cello are the same as a classic cello; the difference is the outside strings on each end. The outside strings create a low “F” string for bass range, and a high “E” like a violin. The six-string, electric cello gives a spectrum of a full orchestra in one instrument.

Jenn, in a Montana Skies video, discusses her love of Jimi Hendrix and the electric guitar. In the video Jenn says, “I had guitar envy. So, I found myself this unique cello.” This one little, six-string, unique cello gives her an opportunity to explore the Hendrix experience in her own way.

We are lucky to have this fantastic duo back in Montana again. Previously, they performed at the 1,800-seat Great Falls Civic Auditorium in Montana.

In Missoula, Montana Skies will be performing at Monk’s at 10:00 p.m. on June 29th. Monk’s seats a little over 300 comfortably and tickets are sold at the door for $5. Opening for Montana Skies will be the Tyler Matthew Smith Band starting at 9:00 p.m.

It is a must-see event! Come share in the cello/guitar fusion experience. For more info and videos, check out Montana Skies website.



Read more of Leisa’s stories about the Missoula music scene.


Missoula writer Leisa Greene Nelson

Call her a big city girl at heart, finding and satiating that appetite in the city of Missoula. Born in Butte and raised in Missoula, she is fascinated by people and looks for interesting characters to write about.  Everyone has a story to tell, or not, but the people and places in Missoula are unique.

Moving fast in life (for that big city feel) Leisa’s passions bounce around music, theater, food, art, family, and  friends that’s supported by an IV line of dark roasted coffee. Single and a recent graduate from the University of Montana with a BA in Creative Writing, she learned what it was like to be a co-ed in her 40s.

She currently works as an Office Manager at Inter-State Studio and Publishing, working on school photos and yearbooks. Her personal life and nightlife is where she discovers and creates creative non-fiction stories. She has four supportive, loving children:  Dustin, Michael, Jalynn, and Mark (adopted through marriage to Dustin) who are all artistically creative in writing, theater, dance, and singing.  Leisa likes to think she moves faster than they do.