WISE RIVER — He cradled his first guitar when he was 6 years old. It was a cheap pawn shop acoustic with nylon strings. It would be his saving grace.
His family lived off the grid then near Kila, and his mother and stepfather thought a guitar would keep him occupied.
“They’re like, ‘Alright, TV’s going off. Here’s a lantern. Here’s a guitar,’” recalled Tim Montana, a singer-songwriter who has ties to Elk Park, Butte and Nashville.
“I remember bringing it to a guitar store, and the guy’s advice was to take it out back and smash it,” he said. “He broke my heart.”
Instead, Montana taught himself to play the guitar, finding it a source of solace and retreat from his stepfather, a militia member and tyrant both inside and outside the off-the-grid double wide the family shared in Elk Park.
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“I played that guitar for years. I always had the ear. I had a little CD player with D-size batteries,” Montana said.
Singer-songwriters Tim Montana (right) and Kyle Rife perform recently on the small stage at the