Bring your chairs, blankets and your love of good music to Giant Springs State Park Saturday, July 29, for a free outdoor concert by local musician Jeff Carroll.

Carroll, a former member of the popular group Cold Hard Cash, performs a solo show in the park starting at 6:30 p.m. According to Park Manager Clark Carlson-Thompson, food and refreshments should be available.

After playing nearly 200 shows with Cold Hard Cash, including performances alongside artists such as John Anderson, Eddie Money, Juice Newton, Darryl Worley and The Platters as well as an appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman, Carroll embarked on a solo career.

Carroll, a Montana native, has played guitar since he was in college in 1990, but music has always been in his blood.

“I was working in Glacier, and a lot of people were playing the guitar and it seemed like something I wanted to do,” he said. “My father was a musician so we always had guitars laying around. It just started to appeal to me more and more.”

Carroll learned to play the bass guitar specifically for Cold Hard Cash, and his guitar style is influenced by his years as a bassist.

“Playing the bass for five years had a pretty profound effect on the way I play the guitar now,” he said. “I just learned a lot of the roots of country music. I found a lot of similarities in the country music with the country blues music I learned on guitar.”

Carroll takes influence wherever he can find it, including traditional country, blues and even banjo music. He has tried other instruments, playing trumpet in high school and experimenting on the banjo and mandolin, but he always seems to come back to the guitar.

Other musical influences for Carroll include the Grateful Dead, and he admits to being a “Deadhead” for a while.

“I bought a ‘69 Volkswagen bus, and anytime they were close, I’d catch the shows,” he said.

Carroll’s guitar playing is deeply rooted in country blues, Americana, and old-time bluegrass, and he has an appreciation for the beauty of complex music that sounds simple. In the beginning, Carroll spent a long time trying to learn country, blues and roots music note for note. Now he likes to put his own stamp on that music.

Lately, Carroll has also returned to songwriting, and he has worked up enough reputation in Montana that he doesn’t have to go out and hunt for gigs.

“I play a lot,” he said. “I do like 100-plus shows a year. It’s nice because it’s getting to the point where people do contact me more and more.”

As long as the weather cooperates, Carroll looks forward to playing the outdoor venue.

“One of the worst outdoors gigs I had was with Cold Hard Cash at the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center,” he recalled, chuckling. “It was under these lights that attracted every bug in the territory, and we were all playing through these black clouds of mosquitoes.”

Musical events at Giant Springs have been popular destinations in past years, so get there early to stake out a spot.

“A lot of folks enjoy coming out and enjoying the natural setting around the spring and listening to good music,” said Carlson-Thompson. “I’m looking forward to getting folks out to Giant Springs.”

Reach Tribune Staff Writer Traci Rosenbaum at 791-1490. Follow her on Twitter @GFTrib_TRosenba.

THE ESSENTIALS

What: Jeff Carroll Concert

When: 6:30 p.m. Saturday, July 29

Where: Giant Springs State Park

Cost: Free

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