Judith Arts kick off season this Friday

Thursday, September 2, 2021
Judith Arts kick off season this Friday

Kyle Shobe and the Walk ‘Em Boys are on stage in Utica tomorrow night. Photo courtesy of Kyle Shobe

The Utica Community Hall will again be filled with the sounds of music, as the Judith Arts Society kicks off their 2021-2022 Performing Arts Season with Pub Night this Friday, Sept. 3, at 6:30 p.m.

Leading the four-performance series is a Central Montana favorite, Kyle Shobe and the Walk ‘Em Boys.

“We always love to be able to play in Central Montana,” said Shobe. “It provides a bit of a different angle [from normal] to connect with people.”

The JAS Board will provide a boxed snack and a complimentary drink beginning at 6:30, and the band will begin playing at 7 p.m.

In an interview last week, Shobe was unable to say just who would be with him in Utica, but all of the guys in the band – Trevor Krieger (fiddle), Parker Brown

(lead guitar), Jeff Taylor (pedal steel guitar), Erik Olson (piano), Al Sandvoid (drums), Nick Kozub (acoustic guitar) and Mike Leslie (bass) are professionals who have growing families and other jobs as well.

The group includes a couple of private music instructors, a couple of firefighters, a former jingles writer and even a Montana Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame bullfighter.

“We enjoy working together; we all love music,” Shobe said. “It is a part of all of our lives, being able to write and perform.

“And these guys are some of my closest friends,” he added.

As everyone in Central Montana knows, Shobe is an auctioneer, and he and his wife Jodie are the recent new owners of Lewistown Livestock Auction. The couple has four children. Their oldest son McKay has played drums with the band. Kyle said he hoped the eighth grader would be in Utica “if he’s available and we can afford him.” Daughter Hadlee is in charge of the band’s merchandise, which will be available Friday night.

The son of Jayson and Debby Shobe, Kyle grew up with music. His dad is a square dance caller and the family traveled with him.

“It was a big deal,” Kyle said. “We always had music around.”

His mom, a former schoolteacher, played the guitar and accordion, so when her son showed a keen interest in playing the guitar in the fifth and sixth grades, she taught him a few chords.

Kyle’s brother Justin plays the drums, and the two of them played together in the family’s basement.

Kyle recalls playing for graduation parties and once before a 4-H sale with a few bands in high school. He said there were several bands in college, where he played the trumpet. He is a graduate of the ag program at the University of Wyoming and holds a minor in music as well.

About 15 years ago he formed the Walk ‘Em Boys, which has grown into a large dance band.

“We are an eight-piece band when everyone comes,” he explained.

The full band includes a piano, steel guitar and fiddle.

“Our goal is to fill a bit of a void, keeping community halls going and country dance halls alive.”

The band plays everything from weddings to county fair events, dances to cattlemen’s balls. Their gigs typically have ties to ag.

They play a great deal of their own original music, some written by Shobe himself and others co-written with some of the band members. They blend these with western cowboy songs. The band’s name, for example, has a connection to a livestock auctioneer song written and made popular by Leroy Van Dyke in 1956.

“Well, all right, sir, open the gate and walk ‘em boys. Here comes Lot 24 …”

Shobe started writing songs in college, but humbly does not consider himself a songwriter. He admits it is enjoyable to write and record a song and then watch people’s reactions to it. His inspiration comes from many different artists, including Don Williams, Bob McDill, Dean Dillon, George Strait and Michael Martin Murphey.

“One of the first artists whose name I learned was Chris LeDoux,” Shobe said.

This summer Shobe and his band cut a new album in Nashville. “Out Here” will be available this fall. Their first studio album, “Sounds Like Music,” was released in 2011, and their second album, “Long Overdue,” was released in 2019.

Let’s hope some of the new material on this new album will be shared during Pub Night at the Utica Community Hall. Whatever they play, however, these band members have been at this long enough to know what songs work with their audience. They’ll come with a set list, but they won’t be tied to it.

Be sure to grab a friend and/or dance partner and show up in Utica Friday night ready to be entertained. It’s sure to be a barn burner.

Admission is by season ticket or at the door.