Alive After 5 held the first of its small-batch concerts Thursday night in downtown Billings- a little later than usual.
For the past several years, the Downtown Billings Alliance had closed its series of shows to coincide with the start of the Magic City Blues Festival.
COVID caused delays, so this year, the Alive After 5 kickoff is launching the same week as Magic City Blues.
Willy G was the opening act on the Sibanye Stillwater stage at the McCormick Cafe.
"It's really cool to be on a professional stage with professional sound guys," said Will Goodridge, known as Willy G. "You can actually hear yourself and the audience gets to hear more of what your sound is actually like. It was awesome. It's really fun. Still riding that high."
And then Mike Farris took the stage.
"He's a huge soul singer," said Goodridge, who is also the public relations man for the festival. "His original band was the Screaming Cheetah Wheelies. He's a killer vocalist, and that's what a lot of people know him for. He sang on a bunch of other artists' tracks."
"Oh, it's awesome," Lindsay Richardson, events director for the alliance, said about teaming with Magic City Blues. "They have a really great eye for talent. I think Mike Farris is going to kill it. Magic City Blues knows how to put on a show. They've been doing it for 20 years, as of this year."
"Pretty cool to be back," Goodridge said. "It's kind of weird and I don't think that everybody is quite ready, or they're just getting there, as last year took its toll on everybody. So I think people are really excited that it's back. It's time to party."
"It feels good to get the team back rolling in setting up for Alive After 5," Richardson said. "Everybody loves it, especially if you work downtown. You get off work and you stroll on over to be Alive After 5 and and connect with a lot of people you haven't seen maybe in a week, or maybe in this case, in a year."
Alive After 5 three more concerts in August.
The main part of the Magic City Blues Festival runs Friday and Saturday.