Mark Robin

Courtesy of Soul Shine

Mark Robin surrounded by friends and family at Soul Shine in 2017.

Big Sky's renowned Music in the Mountains summer concert series kicks off June 20 with the Soul Shine celebration and musical performances from Futurebirds, Dammit Lauren and the Well, and members of Hawthorne Roots. 

The Soul Shine celebration, held in conjunction with the first Music in the Mountains, is one part carnival, one part fundraiser, and one part concert. At its core, it's a celebration of Big Sky business owner Mark Robin, who died of ALS in 2017. Robin and his wife, Jackie, ran the Hungry Moose grocery store and deli for 24 years before his death.  

"We were already the sponsor of the first concert of the summer as a business," said Jackie, "But when Mark got sick, this idea formed."  Soul Shine begins at 5 p.m. at Town Center Park. Music begins at 7. 

Everything at Soul Shine is free, from the bouncy castle to the hot dogs. All donations collected will go to Team Gleason, an organization dedicated to improving the lives of those diagnosed with ALS.

"Their focus is about quality of life for people living with ALS, living independently and full of life as possible once you get this kind of a diagnosis," Jackie said. Attendees can expect face painting, a dunking booth, cotton candy and lots of games for kids, who appeared to be some of Mark's biggest fans. According to Soul Shine's website, kids who came into the Hungry Moose often called Mark "Marky Moose," and made cards and drew photos for him once he received his diagnosis. That's how the celebration received its name — in one of the cards, a Big Sky kid wrote that Mark had "soul shine." 

If a carnival-slash-fundraiser isn't enough incentive to hit the town, alternative rock band Futurebirds will be shredding the stage after locals Dammit Lauren and the Well and Lucas and Maddie, members of the band Hawthorne Roots. Futurebirds' latest release, "Hotel Parties," came out in 2015 on Easy Sound. 

Music in the Mountains is put on by the Arts Council of Big Sky. Executive director Brian Hurlbut said the 12-week concert series usually attracts roughly 3,000 people per performance. Larger bands or special performances (like shows on the Fourth of July) can attract up to 5,000, almost double Big Sky's population. 

"The first one is always a really great time because people are so excited the music is finally here," said Hurlbut. "Futurebirds are an awesome up and coming band and I'm really excited for them to be in Big Sky."