Chart-topping American country artist Niko Moon is in Missoula this Thursday night at the Wilma Theater performing for the first time. Moon was nice enough to carve out time to chat with me on the phone before his show in Billings.

Welcome to Montana, Niko

Billings and Missoula will be his first shows played in Montana, but he's traveled through Big Sky Country before and fell in love with it.

"I've been through Montana... This is probably my favorite area of the country," said Moon. "Out here you get these wide open views and with the mountains in the distance. It's just something that, for me, is really special I always feel moved when I'm here."

The Georgia native has never been to Missoula before, so if you see him before or after the show give him a recommendation for a hike or a restaurant to eat at.

Does Niko have any rituals before he performs live?

A lot of performers - whether it's musicians, athletes, actors, etc - have "gameday" rituals. Moon's is all about self-care.

"I like to breathe in steam for about 20 minutes with those humidifiers just to really get my vocals hydrated. Then I'll do these vocal warmups for about 20 minutes and I'll drink a throat coat tea."

His latest album "Better Days"

Moon released the album Better Days in January. There's always intent behind his lyrics according to Moon and the message with his latest album is optimism.

"It always has a positive mentality to it," expressed Moon. "I'm a big believer in the power of positive thinking. I'm personally so encouraged and have been inspired by my life with artists that have made that kind of music. Guys like Bob Marley."

Specifically with the times we are living in Moon wants listeners to find some serenity.

"This new album right here is really all about finding peace of mind in strange times," said Moon. "I wanted to make an album that could lower the pressure, stress, or anxiety."

One specific song Moon gravitates to is Better Days, the title track from the album. So much so that the song raises money for his foundation helping those who can't afford therapy receive it.

"I donated that song to my non-profit foundation called A Happy Cowboy Foundation... Which means that every time anybody goes online to listen to it 100 percent of that revenue goes to helping someone else being able to have a conversation and find their way back to happiness again."

Credit: Niko Moon
Credit: Niko Moon

John Prine's Influence

I discovered the legendary John Prine influenced Moon during my interview prep. Selifhsly, I had to ask him about Prine because he is one of my all-time favorites Moon has been a huge John Prine fan since day one.

"I was very fortunate in that I was born into John Prine's music," explained Moon. "My dad is a super big fan, so I remember just being like a little, little kid and him playing in the house all the time."

"To me, John Prine, what makes him so great is his ability to be clever but conversational at the same time with his lyrics."

Moon plays Thursday, April 18 at the Wilma Theater at 7 pm.

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