May 11, 2021. Bozeman Montana.
Remembering our friend & coworker, Joe Knapp
This past weekend we lost an amazing human being and long-time crew member of Music Villa, Joe Knapp. Joe passed away unexpectedly while visiting Nashville on May 9, 2021. He was in Nashville meeting with industry folks, hoping to reach a broader audience with his music. This loss is still very fresh and extremely hard for any of us to process. Joe was an absolute Bozeman music legend and an amazingly upbeat and positive coworker for nearly 15 years at Music Villa. His kindness, compassion, and zest for life will live within us all forever!
Joe was a staple in the music scene since he moved to Bozeman (from Alaska) in the early 90's. We remember him as a high schooler getting gear and gaining knowledge at the old Music Villa location on Main Street. He often talked shop with many of the older crew members (Geno, Fred, Tex, Jerry, etc), and loved taking in as much music & gear knowledge as possible!
Shortly after high school, Joe became more and more of a regular at Music Villa's current location. Eventually it turned into a job for Joe. He was loved by so many of our customers because of his loyalty, compassion, accessibility, and vast gear knowledge. He knew his trade, inside out! He studied music. He watched music documentaries. He listened to the greats. He lived and breathed music! He played as often as possible with as many musicians as possible, and he never settled for one genre… he wanted to know them all!
Joe left Music Villa (as an employee) a couple years back to pursue a full-time musician and teaching career. He was an incredible guitar teacher with a passion for the next generation of Bozeman musicians. He loved teaching kids how to rock and his students LOVED working with him.
Beyond teaching, Joe gigged in Bozeman and around Montana as a solo artist, duo, trio, or full band for every type of music venue you can imagine. He quickly became a familiar name as he racked up 3-4 gigs/week and 200+ gigs/year for the past few years. You could catch him playing solo under his own name, or with special guests like Amanda Stewart & Chelsea Hunt, or with his original bands The Salamanders, The Dead Yellers, or SlomoJoe + the Knowshows, or his new (and highly popular) Grateful Dead Tribute Band, Dead Sky. Joe had several gigs planned for this summer and was very excited to get to play to some bigger audiences as things were starting to open up.
Joe Knapp was a legend. A man loved by everyone. His music was special, his talents were unmatched, and his heart was made of gold. He will be sorely missed by the Bozeman music community and beyond. Joe, we hope you're playing with all your guitar heroes - and thank you for the decades of friendship, family, and music!
Love, the Music Villa Crew
(written by Dustin Tucker)