Play it Sam!

This is an article I wrote for Find It Montana, a new website about the wonderful happenings in Big Sky Country.


“Play it, Sam!” By Erica von Kleist, Published April 21, 2014

Food and music are kindred spirits. They nourish the soul, engage the mind, relax the body, and dually quell a desire for both sustenance and self-expression. In today’s world it’s easy to fill up on fast food, and indulge in the musical “flavor of the week”. The world’s working class is less likely than ever to take in a thoughtful meal and live entertainment being that every fathomable source of digital amusement is available at the touch of a button.

Recently, a beautiful upright grand piano has taken up residence at the new Tupelo Grille & Lounge in Whitefish. It rests stately up against the back wall of the chic yet rustic bar, flanked by two plush contemporary couches. Not counting the city’s current dedicated performance halls, this piano is the only acoustic piano in downtown Whitefish, which is a bit of a shock considering how much the local residents love live music. This charming instrument is setting the stage for a much-needed aesthetic outlet – live dinner musical entertainment.

The piano was provided by musicians, for musicians. Heather Kaufman, a mother, writer, musician and entrepreneur recently took up residence in Whitefish and is currently endeavoring a new venture in the purple A-frame on 93. Heather formerly ran the bakery in Polebridge, and has had the piano for many years. Her sons, three brilliantly creative young men, practiced on the instrument when they were younger, consequently etching sentimentalities and memories into it’s smoky, dark wood exterior. In recent years the piano resided in Heather’s house in Fortine, which was recently sold. This left her with the choice of letting the piano stay with the house and the new owners, or find it a home. Luckily Tupelo had just opened the doors of its new space, thus creating a perfect temporary dwelling for the instrument.

Thanks to Heather’s generosity and trust, local pianists now have a place to sow their musical oats and perform on an instrument befitting their talents. The piano creates the perfect juxtaposition of old-school saloon-style Montana feeling with a modern twist, reflecting the essence of Whitefish itself. Starting in May, Tupelo will be hosting “piano-bar” nights featuring the best local artists, paired with some of the area’s top cuisine. Patrons will have an opportunity to enjoy live entertainment whilst dining and indulging in libation. For more information on showtimes,