The Lil' Smokies
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The Lil' Smokies

Missoula, Montana, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2008 | SELF

Missoula, Montana, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2008
Band Americana Bluegrass


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"New Album gives Lil' Smokies fans live experience"

The new release also caps off 18 months that have seen the Lil’ Smokies rise from bluegrass-inspired bar band in 2009 to some of the most prominent performers in Missoula, packing venues every time they play. - The Missoulian

"Studio Smokies: String band cuts its first album by Clancy D. Crismore"

The Lil’ Smokies have opened for Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers and jammed with writer James Lee Burke. But they hadn’t yet released an album.

They’ll remedy that this Friday at the Top Hat, where their first studio outing, consisting of 10 originals, will be on sale.

Dobro player Andy Dunnigan said he and his fellow band members were excited about the release of their first CD and being able to perform at the revamped Hat.

“We’re a little nervous,” said Dunnigan, “but more excited than nervous. This album release and performance have been a long time coming.”


Dunnigan said he and the other band members consider themselves as a string band.

He and his bandmates all have roots in bluegrass, and identify their music as progressive bluegrass or progressive acoustic.

In addition to Dunnigan, the Lil’ Smokies consist of mandolin player Cameron Wilson, banjo player Matt Cornette, bassist Scott Parker and guitarist Pete Barrett.

Dunnigan and the other band members met at a musical gathering in the winter of 2009.

The future Smokies didn’t know each other, but they got together and played, in the words of Dunnigan, “until the wee hours of the morning.”

Dunnigan said after that, the group got together every week simply to play whatever they felt like. He said it was as though they were a “typical garage band.”

Dunnigan hails from Whitefish and grew up around music as the son of multi-instrumentalist John Dunnigan, touring with him across the state of Montana.

Wilson is originally from Chicago. He honed his skills with the mandolin while playing with the bands Rich and Rare, Pert’ Near Sandstone and the Mason Jar String Band, and from time spent in North Carolina.

Cornette was a founding member of the Missoula bluegrass band Broken Valley Roadshow. He cites musicians such as Earl Scruggs, Keith Reid, Noam Pikelney and Béla Fleck as his inspirations.

Parker is one of the Lil’ Smokies’ songwriters. The Wyoming native became interested in music because of metal bands.

“The strong community of musicians in Missoula shifted my genres from ‘tight jeans headbanging’ to ‘there is more than shredding,’ ” said Parker.

Barrett is the joker of the group. The Lil’ Smokies say they do not take responsibility for anything that may come out of his mouth. He gained experience from an internship at the View Studios in Belmont, Calif., and from viewing a multitude of performances from acclaimed musicians.

The Lil’ Smokies opened for actor and comedian Steve Martin and his band the Steep Canyon Rangers last July after winning a contest in which 11 other bands competed to be the opening act at the Osprey Stadium.

Dunnigan and the other members of the Lil’ Smokies were grateful for the $12,500 in donations on Kickstarter. Without the fundraising website, their debut album would not have become a reality. - The Missoulian

"Steve Martin Fame to Rub Off on a Talented Missoula Band Friday Night by Mark Vosburg"

Steve Martin and the Lil’ Smokies have a few things in common.
Both work other jobs while pursuing a passion for Bluegrass music, both are band contest winners, and both will play on stage at Osprey Stadium this Friday night.
I spoke briefly with Lil’ Smokies guitar player and vocalist Pete Barrett on his lunch break from his carpentry job site this week.
He said the Smokies are totally psyched and ready to open the show for Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers. While the band carries with them the Missoula bluegrass community’s dreams of a local band making it big, Pete sees the show this way. “We really feel a responsibility to put on a great show as a way to thank our supporters who got us here.”
The Smokies got to this point by building a reputation as solid, driving bluegrass band that knows how to fill local dance floors and wow the crowd at Missoula’s bigger venues, including the River City Roots Festival. While the band recognizes the acclaim of being the opening act for Friday’s show, they had to keep up their hard-working ways and win a promotional contest to make it a reality.
Twelve local bands entered the contest, submitting music clips to be voted for online. The top three vote gatherers (Britchy, a band that I’m in, Zach Williams and the River City Ramblers, and the Lil Smokies) played in a very fun live “Battle of the Bands” contest last Saturday Night at Monk’s Bar. The Smokies came out as the winner, earning the opening act slot for the Osprey Stadium show.
Pete and his bandmates were gracious in victory that night, although I’ll have to rescind my comment if I discover they were only following Steve Martin’s advice for contest winners: “The losers can feel very sad, so when you are back stage with them pat their backs, then shake your head sadly. It’s a blast!!”
Speaking of band contests, Pete described several interesting connection between Missoula and the Steep Canyon Rangers. Turns out that he and Smokies banjo player Matt Corrette saw the Rangers win the Rocky Grass Band Competition in Lyons, Colorado a few years back. He says, “Matt I saw them beat out none other than a Missoula Band – The Rank Strangers! Mason Tuttle (now living in Bozeman), Larry Ganges (Jr.), Thomas Kelly, Fred Kelner, and, Adam Sherba, I believe? So cool how things come around.”
Smokies mandolin player Cameron Wilson will be on familiar territory Friday night. Before coming to Missoula, he lived in the Carolinas and played in the band Boss Hogg. During his tenure with the band, he opened the Steep Canyon Rangers several times.
Steve Martin has lent his considerable celebrity to bluegrass music with his nationwide appearances with the Steep Canyon Rangers. His shows are funny, but they bring attention to some seriously good bluegrass music. This is a style and caliber of music that many folks in Steve’s audience may have never heard otherwise.
If you haven’t already discovered Missoula’s own Lil Smokies, come early and be ready for real treat Friday night! It’s gonna a Missoula summer bluegrass night to remember.
The Lil Smokies are:
Pete Barrett, guitar/vocals
Matt Cornette, banjo/vocals
Cameron Wilson, mandolin/fiddle/vocal
Jesse Brown, fiddle/ vocals
Scott Parker, bass/vocals
Grace Decker (Broken Valley Road Show) will play fiddle in place of Jesse who is unavailable for the show. - Make It Missoula Blog

"Hot Dogs - The Lil' Smokies pick beyond the bluegrass by Bob Wire"

Andy Dunnigan of the Lil' Smokes doesn't really want to be categorized as bluegrass. That's a mighty strange stance coming from a dobro whiz whose sextet features such standard-issue bluegrass instruments as fiddle, banjo, string bass and mandolin. But, Dunnigan acknowledges with a laugh, that's "the stigma of wielding bluegrass instruments."

Let me tell you this: If these guys can win over someone like me, for whom a little bluegrass goes a long way, a guy who can have his Mandolin Daily Requirement filled by five seconds of that little chirpy bastard, this band has grown well beyond the rigid environs of one of the most constrictive musical genres there is.

"Yeah," Dunnigan agrees, a mischievous twinkle in his faded-denim blue eyes. "This isn't that 'marry-your-cousin' type of bluegrass."

Dunnigan and I sat down at a local brewery on a recent sunny afternoon to sample some lip-smacking ales and discuss the Lil' Smokies' eponymous debut album, which is set for release on June 28.

I had been afforded a sneak preview of the CD earlier, and as I slid it into my car's player my Spidey sense was tingling with bluegrass apprehension. But by the time the third song rolled out of the speakers, I was banging the steering wheel in time and singing harmony with the chorus at the top of my lungs.

The other people at the gas pump were not amused.

The bands that have the most staying power tend to pull musical threads in from various directions, and the Smokies are no exception. Dunnigan admits that most of the guys learned their chops in bluegrass outfits, but these are six guys with diverse influences and broad musical background. Fiddler Jesse Brown, for instance, screams in the punk band Amidst the Chaos. Along with Dunnigan and Brown, the Smokies include Pete Barrett (guitar), Scott Parker (upright bass), Matt Cornette (banjo) and Cameron Wilson (mandolin). The band's genesis in the winter of 2009 is a testament to the wide palette of styles evident in their CD. - Big Sky Press


The Lil' Smokies have produced and released two albums:

The Lil' Smokies - The Lil Smokies (2013)

The Lil' Smokies - Live New Year's Eve 2013 (2014)

Both can be found on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, and most online outlets. Physical CDs can be purchased at



Hailing from the utopian garden city of Missoula, MT, The Lil’ Smokies exploded onto the progressivebluegrass scene in the winter of 2009 and haven’t shown any signs of fatigue since. Sharing the stage with heavyweights like Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Keller Williams, Greensky Bluegrass, The Emmit-Nershi Band, Yonder Mountain String Band, The Travellin’ McCourys, Sam Bush Band, Fruition, Infamous Stringdusters, Bradford Lee Folk and The Bluegrass Playboys, and dozens of others, The Lil’ Smokies have no problem captivating large audiences. With a unique blend of traditional bluegrass, newgrass, unique original compositions, and sheer raw energy, The Lil’ Smokies weave seamlessly through genres, leaving something for everyone. The Smokies have played the Trap Bar at Grand Targhee Bluegrass Festival (2011), the Bozeman Bluegrass Fest (2011), Sandpoint Summer Fest (2013), Wintergrass (2014), River City Roots Festival (2011, 2013, 2014), Northwest Folklife Festival (2014), the Northwest String Summit’s Further Stage and Main Stage (2013, 2014). Most recently, they were nominated by the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA, 2014) for the Momentum in Bluegrass Band Award - quite a feat getting on the radar of Nashville industry people and musical peers from Montana! This six-piece bluegrass ensemble features, Pete Barrett (guitar), Andy Dunnigan (dobro), Scott Parker (upright bass), Matt Cornette (banjo), Cameron Wilson (mandolin), and Jesse Brown (Fiddle).

Band Members