BILLINGS - Wes Urbaniak started making guitars when he was fourteen, or as he says he started 'breaking them,' deconstructing the stringed instruments to make them unique.
"Actually I think I was fixing them, upgrading them," Urbaniak said. "I think they thought I was breaking them."
Urbaniak travels around the country performing with his band Wes Urbaniak and the Mountain Folk. His band performs on his instruments and they've drawn attention from concert goers.
"We play all these instruments and that's something people say right away is, 'What the heck is that stuff? Where did you get these?'" Urbaniak said.
Each guitar is made with whatever resources he can find, from a log he found in Portland, Oregon to old piano boards from 1905. He brought that nearly 400-pound log back to Montana in his Prius, by the way.
"Man it was crazy though that process of learning about that and using those materials that weren't supposed to be good materials for use and I just kept finding ways to work with that and I wanted to experiment with what was going on I didn't wanna just like do what everybody else was doing," he said.
Wes says after years of working with guitars and different materials, he's found out how to combine quality sound with his own raw style, breathing life and soul into his instruments.
"I do get videos and stuff of people playing some of these crazy instruments and they just love them and that's one of the things I get back," he said.
Starting five years ago, Wes made it a part of his mission as a musician to be able to connect with the local community, and build relationships while on tour with people all over the country.
He has created these links through guitar donations and a letter writing campaign.
"It's such a cool avenue of meeting other people and hearing other stories as a songwriter, as a singer songwriter it's amazing," he said. "I love stories, telling them, and writing them, and hearing them and this is a way to hear stories that we would otherwise never get a chance to hear."
This year, he's giving away two of his custom instruments, one in the Billings area another one nationally through the letter writing campaign.
"I love being able to build something that nobody else has, that nobody else can get and that you can't just buy," he said. "So much of the world is, 'Well I'll just buy it, if I want it I'll just buy it,' and there's some of this stuff that you just can't buy. I wanted somebody who might not afford it to have an opportunity to get that."
He hopes his campaign can help show Billings all that the music scene has to offer in The Magic City.
"So many people tell us 'we didn't even realize there was live music in Billings'," he says. "We would love to see a bunch of new faces at our shows and at other shows when we go to them supporting what amazing music we have here."
Wes Urbaniak and the Mountain Folk will be performing on April 5 in Butte.
They also have several events around the area.