Montana Treasure: Mission Mountain Wood Band rocks on for nearly half a century

It's been a wild ride during the nearly 50-year history of the beloved Mission Mountain Wood band.

"This is our hometown. It's where we all went to the University of Montana, and got together there, and we started out all of our careers together. Right now the band is in its 48th year together," band member Steve Riddle said. 

Three of the original band members, Greg Reichenberg, Steve Riddle and Rob Quist, say the band formed in the early 1970s, and became a nationwide touring act. During almost half a century together, the band brought musical joy to the ears of thousands across the country. 

"We played in every state in the union. Put over two million miles on our bus," band member Rob Quist said. (Younger generations may know Quist better as the Democratic candidate for Congress who lost to Rep. Greg Gianforte in 2017.)

"[We] played every type of music you can think of from bluegrass to country to blues to rock and roll. We were a rock band in the old days."

After rocking out together for much of the 1970s, the band broke up in 1981 and went their separate ways. But in 1987, a tragic plan crash near Flathead lake killed original band member Terry Robinson, along with nine others. 

"I think [the plane crash] was one of the things that brought us back together again," Quist said. "We all kind of came together for the wake of the band, then it wasn't long after that we started doing the reunion concerts and that started to snow ball."

Quist said it was music that helped them heal after tragedy. 

"[Music] was a healing for us. The fact that we were able to share our grief together, playing music is always healing," Quist said. 

In the early 1990s the band got back together and have been going strong ever since. 

"It's really great to think that after 48 years that people still want to hear our music that's really gratifying for us," Quist said. 

But even after a long, successful music careers, band members said they're most proud of being Montanans. 

"We always felt like we were Montana's band. We've always felt like we were always proud to be a part of the Missoula community," Quist said. 

The Mission Mountain Wood Band doesn't play frequently these days, but put on a special show on Sunday, March 3 at a benefit for the Global Education Initiatives for Montana Youth. 

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