How a Montana congressional nominee's famous band helped set the world record for partying
Group drinking beer (Shutterstock)

BOZEMAN -- The legend of the University of Montana, "Aber Day Keggers" in 1970s Missoula requires willful suspension of disbelief. A party of over 10,000 people in a town that had less than 30,000 at the time?

Only in Montana could such event actually occur. And apparently it really did.

The Guinness Book of World Records awarded the event the world title for Largest Charity Kegger. The consumption of over 1,100 kegs allegedly caused a regional shortage of beer in surrounding states. In 2010, Montana PBS aired an 85-minute documentary on the kegger.

"When you get that many kids together and that much to drink, they lose their inhibitions," a local politician famously complained while attempting to ban the tradition. "There is a considerable amount of sex in the open and urinating upon the hill."

While the degree to which it was an orgy remains in debate, everyone acknowledges that over a thousand kegs were urinated somewhere. There also might have been epic consumption of illicit drugs.

Oddly enough, it was a fundraiser for the library at the university in Missoula. Which makes sense because of a famous musical band of alumni, who grew the turnout through constant touring of Montana -- while reminding all the former UM Grizzlies they saw to attend the next annual kegger.

The student newspaper, the Kaimin, is the crown jewel of the UM journalism school. Here's how those crazy days of the 1970s were described in the Kaimin:

When alumni from this decade look back on their college years, they don’t remember winning football games or having sex for the first time. They conjure up images of the Aber Day Kegger

M2WB:  The Mission Mountain Wood Band

First-time Montana Democratic Party congressional nominee Rob Quist was a founding member and frontman of Montana's legendary local band, the Mission Mountain Wood Band (or #M2WB as bizarrely they had more of a hashtag than an acronym -- decades before Twitter). As the Kaimin continued, "Hippies and cowboys alike united at the event, and college students from across the Northwest flocked to Missoula to take part in the celebration.'

To understand how a local band could have such a prominent role in uniting disparate groups for record-setting parties, The Raw Story reached out to renowned Montana State University Professor Eric Funk.

His Emmy Award winning show, 11th & Grant with Erik Funk has spent over a decade seeking out Montana's, "most acclaimed, accomplished, and pioneering" musical talent.

"Musicians like Rob Quist are truth tellers with open minds, great senses of humor, and the ability and skills and personality to relate to anybody," Professor Funk told The Raw Story. "Everything he does as a musician is germane to working with people in politics."

Professor Funk narrated the 2009 Montana PBS retrospective documentary, Never Long Gone: The Mission Mountain Wood Band Story. This is the legend of how the Mission Mountain Wood Band's, "rousing mix of music defied category, generations, social strata - even the contentious politics of the times."

Will relationships nurtured as a touring musician pay off for the newbie candidate?

"Rob knows Montanans, all of them. He understands the rancher and the farmer and folks doing a subsistence life style, how hard it is," Professor Funk continued in an interview with The Raw Story. "He knows Montana and Montana issues, what's relevant and what's irrelevant to us. This isn't DC."

Montana has always been a land of extremes, a fact exemplified by the cultural polarization of the sixties and seventies. Yet somehow Rob Quist and the Mission Mountain Wood Band brought out everyone -- the hippies and the cowboys -- for great music and notorious parties.

Big Sky Bellwether - Montana's Statewide Special Election

There is no shortage of opinions on President Donald Trump, but has there been a shift in the electorate?

With congressional elections an every-other-year event, all eyes are upon a couple of 2017 Special Elections:  Georgia's Sixth Congressional District and Montana's At-Large seat.

The only statewide congressional election of 2017 will conclude on May 25th in Montana -- the fourth largest state America...represented by a single member of congress.

National political analysts view Big Sky Country as a barometer for predicting 2018 congressional midterm elections, though the major party nominees in Montana may not be realistic models for the candidates facing off in next year's congressional elections.

While Democrats nominated Rob Quist, the Montana Republican Party nominated business mogul Greg Gianforte (famous for making a fortune by selling RightNow Technologies to Oracle for $1.5 billion).

Neither Rob Quist nor Greg Gianforte have ever been elected to public office. Quist is a first-time political candidate, though he served as a gubernatorial appointee on the Montana Arts Council for over a decade. Gianforte has candidate experience as the 2016 GOP gubernatorial nominee, though he lost to incumbent Steve Bullock by 19,818 votes -- the only Montana Republican to lose a statewide race last fall.

M2WB Political Effect

To say the Mission Mountain Wood Band is legendary in Montana is an understatement.

Jim Casto was a M2WB stage manager and helped drive the band's famous greyhound scenic cruiser for over 3 million miles of touring, "Mission Mountain Wood Band is not just a Band - it's a way of living life, an attitude, and more than anything, in the deepest, most profound sense, the Wood Band and their fans became a family."

The baby-boomers who survived the M2WB era all seem to have a story about the good ol' days.

Take political scientist Craig Wilson. For decades, Montana reporters have called Professor Emeritus Wilson for quotes on the latest political happenings. But when Billings Gazette reporter Tom Lutey called for insight on this Special Election, Wilson felt the need to disclose that Quist's Mission Mountain Wood Band practiced in the basement of Wilson's Sigma Nu fraternity back in the day.

As popular former Governor Brian Schweitzer reminded the same reporter, "I guess us old duffers, we all know the Mission Mountain Wood Band."

Can the infamous band's following translate to votes?

MSU Professor Funk quickly got philosophical when discussing the potential of Quist's candidacy.

Rob Quists understands, "the high aesthetic" of Montana culture, Funk explained. "This isn't the mythological west. It's the real west. Rob is a real Montanan in real Montana."

And now, Rob Quist is a real congressional candidate in America's biggest 2017 election.