Guitarist rides “Ride the The Divide” to new recognition

Guitarist Jon Dillon Schumaker hasn’t been much of a fixture on regional performance stages. But starting next week, the 20-year-old Polson musician will be heard in movie theatres around the west and beyond, when the film, “Ride the Divide,” begins a series of screenings in Canada and the U.S., with Montana stops in Whitefish, Helena, Missoula, and Bozeman.

The film, which follows a group of riders as they complete the grueling, 2,745-mile Tour Divide mountain-bike race from Canada to the Mexican border — the longest mountain bike race in the world – features one of Schumaker’s original tunes in its soundtrack.

The song, titled appropriately titled “Off in the Woods,” features Schumaker’s multitracked guitar-playing over a backdrop of hand-drumming (which Schumaker himself performed on the body of his guitar), creating a lazy, backporch groove punctuated by chiming melodic fragments.

Schumaker said in a phone interview that he was contacted by the film’s producers after posting the song on his profile at SonicBids, an online musician promotion service. The song can also be heard at Schumaker’s personal Myspace page.

“It was pretty cool to have that happen,” said Schumaker. “When I put it up there (on SonicBids), I wasn’t really sure what might happen, if anything.”

Despite its daunting length, the Tour Divide race isn’t particularly well-known, except among hard-core mountain bikers. Starting in Banff, Alberta, the race follows a route created in 1998 by Missoula-based Adventure Cycling, winding southward through the Rocky Mountains to Antelope Wells, N.M. Montana claims the most mileage along the route, with riders traveling through Whitefish, Lincoln, Helena and Wise River.

Ride The Divide Movie Trailer from Ride The Divide on Vimeo.

The film will be playing in Banff on June 10 — the eve of the start of this year’s Tour Divide race — and then in four Montana cities that lie on or near the route: Whitefish (June 13, 7:30 p.m., at the O’Shaughnessy Center), Helena (June 14, 7 p.m., at the Myrna Loy), Missoula (June 15, 7:30 p.m., at the the Wilma Theatre), and Bozeman (June 16, 7:30 p.m., at the the Emerson Cultural Center).

Ticket information can be found on the film’s Web site,

The filmmakers will be in attendance at all shows and will be conducting Q&A sessions after the screenings. Musician Dominique Fraissard, a guitarist from British Columbia whose music is also featured in the soundtrack, will be playing live music at the screenings.

As to Schumaker, he’s focused on getting out and performing more with his band, also named Off in the Woods.

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