Laughter is the Best Medicine

Humor and Harmony: The John Dunnigan Story

they’re just some performers who know how to entertain whether it’s in a crowded rowdy bar or the convention hall filled with professionals in the Flathead Valley John Dunnigan knows the notes and more than a few jokes his musical skills are legendary and so is that sense of humor Jill Valley and photographer James Randi spent the last few minutes getting to know him to learn what makes him special it certainly didn’t take too long to figure out I got a piece it is a warm and smoky summer evening in Whitefish Montana and I know you are the streets are filled with tourists and locals strolling along the sidewalks looking for a meal or listening for music they’ve come to the right place good to see you here on this night they crowd into a back patio at the craggy range bar and grill that’s what it was it’s where 64 year old John Dunnigan is tuning up for his bi-weekly show he’s considered by many the Jimmy Buffett of the Flathead Valley wasted away again in Margaritaville you can sing along if you want although it’s the middle e afternoon nobody does it I don’t care there we go most of those here tonight some people claim they are here to hear him it’s my own damn fault he’s just sincere and engages with the audience so it’s hard not to have a good time and if we drink enough with him goes like this even the staff requests the patio section when they know he’s on stage that night I could be having the worst day of my life and I could come in and John could be working and he’ll make it all better because not only does he give us amazing music but he always makes us fun doing a Mustang ranch in Nevada he makes connections when he’s onstage maybe it’s just a glance or a smile or a typical glass this is the wagon wheel but no matter how crowded it gets in there John makes people feel like he is there just to sing for that he’s a musician’s musician with his guitars and banjo and harmonica combined with quick wit and humor thinking one word next one at one word Arizona he’s been a singer/songwriter before that was even a thing this is what I want to be I want to be me and I want to do this the solo acoustic thing but it wasn’t that market for it like it is now in the early 80s there was very few people doing what I do right now in the Flathead Valley I mean like none just nobody doing this everybody was in bands maybe a few duo’s around but not the solo got now there’s oh my gosh I bet in Whitefish there’s 25 solo artists in this town right now he’s quick-witted in person oh you guys are so well-behaved tonight I can’t believe it and on stage so fans never know quite what they’re going to get at a John Dunnigan show hanging out with the heavyweights tonight man but they interact with him like an old friend quick somebody put this in the back of my car so cheering and laughing dancing yelling out request this is a Robin Ford song he puts his all into each performance reading the crowd and giving them what they want oh I think they like the spontaneity of me and the fact that I I don’t ever have a song list I never do the same I do a lot of the same songs as some of the bartender’s can probably attest to but I just let it go wherever you know that wherever the crowd wants to kind of go I’ll go and sometimes it’s you know it’s me leading them but quite often it’s them leading me too so I never know who’s pushing pull kind of deal [Music] thank you all very much well thanks you guys what an unbelievably fun

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