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Finalists set to compete for Sip 'N Dip gig

Sip ’N Dip Lounge at the O’Haire Motor Inn
"Piano Pat" Spoonheim performing at the Sip 'N Dip Lounge in Great Falls, Montana
Posted at 5:17 PM, Oct 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-05 19:17:59-04

GREAT FALLS — On Tuesday evening at the Sip 'N Dip Lounge in downtown Great Falls, three of the five finalists aiming to become the bar's new musical act will perform in front of judges and customers before a winner is named Wednesday night.

Tuesday's ticketed event will feature performances by finalists Eric Lowell Bartz, Joel Corda, and Lyle Sheets, who will each be critiqued by a panel of judges. On Wednesday, October 6, the other two finalists - Melissa Smith and Johnny Ritchie - will face the judges.

For owner Sandy Johnson-Thares, it's been a fun process - she's ready to get back to business as usual with a deserving new musician occupying the chair of the late Piano Pat.

She said, "The talent among these five is amazing. Everyone in their own right is a great musician, so now it's up to the judges to determine tonight and tomorrow night who gets the coveted seat."

Tickets for Tuesday's and Wednesday's events are sold out, but the Sip 'N Dip will stream all of the finalists' performances on Facebook Live starting at 6:30 p.m.

(SEPTEMBER 2, 2021) The Sip 'N Dip lounge in Great Falls launched a contest in July to find a new musical performer. The lounge is known for its tiki theme and "mermaids" swimming in the pool behind the bar - and of course, "Piano Pat."

Pat Sponheim, the iconic entertainer who passed away in May, had been behind the keyboard belting out favorites at the Sip 'N Dip since 1963. Pat was one of the reasons that the Sip 'N Dip was named by GQ magazine in 2003 as the "#1 bar on earth worth flying for" - coupled with the near-equally iconic mermaids behind the bar.

This week, the Sip 'N Dip Lounge announced the five finalists for their music bar competition.

The five finalists are Joel Corda, Lyle Sheets, Melissa Smith, Johnny Ritchie, and Eric Lowell Bartz - all Great Falls residents..

The finalists will perform in front of the judges; panel on October 5th and 6th, and the winner will perform live for the first time on October 8th.

You can find all the finalists' bios and audition videos - and vote for your favorite - on the the Sip 'N Dip website.

Great Falls icon "Piano Pat" has passed away