The Age of The Innocents

Pat Hill  |   Thursday Oct. 1st, 2015

A favorite local haunt will feature a popular Bozeman band on Halloween night, when The Innocents take the stage at the Eagles Lodge downtown.

The Innocents may be better known to most area residents as the Booze Hounds, the name of the band which first brought frontman Rob Lethert (guitar and vocals) and drummer Kenny Stancil together on the stage well over ten years ago. Though the Booze Hounds have seen many other band members come and go during the long run, Lethert, from Manhattan, and Stancil, from Three Forks (who knew each other long before they playing music together) have remained together as the band has morphed into The Innocents. They are joined by Chelsea Hunt on fiddle, Justin Bauer on electric bass, and Marcus Engstrom on both lead and baritone guitar.

The Innocents have stuck with the Americana/Country/Rock approach that made the Booze Hounds one of the more popular and most-booked bands in the region. They describe their music as “a blend of old-school country and contemporary Americana,” and it has worked well for them. But the hard partying that too often mirrored the band’s original name took its toll in more ways than one over the years. Even the name “Booze Hounds” didn’t always work, especially when marketing themselves for a more family-oriented affair, such as Bozeman’s Lunch on the Lawn, where the band first performed as The Innocents last summer.

The band decided to stick with the new name for good after the release of their fourth CD, self-titled “The Innocents.” Though the name change hasn’t flown too well with old, die-hard Booze Hounds fans, the fact is that many of those loyal followers have also quieted down a bit, and acknowledge that they don’t make it out to the band’s gigs as loyally as they once did. Lethert said that building a new fan base to add to the old is part of the program.

The band’s new name, interestingly, was inspired by the 19th-Century band of outlaws from Virginia City-Bannack way known as the Plummer Gang, led by Sheriff Henry Plummer. The gang’s code phrase, “I am innocent,” marked them as members of the infamous band of Montana outlaws, but they were anything but innocent, and most of them met their fate at the end of a vigilante hangman’s noose. It’s a part of Montana history that has fascinated Lethert since high school, and the topic has become required reading for members of the band.

Be sure and catch up with The Innocents downstairs at the Eagles on Halloween night, and hear a band that’s become part of the musical history of the Valley. It’s a free show, and the music kicks off about 9 pm.   

About the Author(s)

Pat Hill

Pat Hill is a freelance writer in Bozeman. A native Montanan and former advisor to Montana State University’s Exponent newspaper, Pat has been writing about the history and politics of the Treasure State for nearly three decades.

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