Big Sky resident Tanner Spree was visited this summer by his moms Anne and Renate. They taught him how to fly fish on the Gallatin River when he was a child. PHOTO BY JANA BOUNDS

An old soul

Tanner Spree’s wisdom beyond his years

Tanner Spree’s wish for the world is that everyone could be just a little more accepting of differences in each other and of differences in opinion. Raised entirely by women, he was taught to be respectful.

Born in Mission Viejo, California, he was adopted at 13 months old by his moms. Conversations about Proposition 8 were a part of his unique childhood.

Other kids in school thought it was strange when he told them he was being raised by his moms.

“With time it just became a normality in my life. As time went on other people understood it more and they became more accepting,” he said. “I always say, ‘You know, if you don’t like it, you don’t like it. I can’t change your opinion, but it definitely helps to look through a different perspective, to see what they might be going through.’”

Now, he believes many people today view couples as just couples – no matter their gender. The women who adopted him split-up when he was four. His mother Renate remarried and his mother Michelle did not.

So, he has three moms and jokes that he has to be on his game for Mother’s Day, but gets a break on Father’s Day. Renate and her wife Anne introduced Spree to Big Sky. He has many childhood memories dotted with summer days spent by the Gallatin River, learning the art of fly fishing. Idyllic times, really, landing rainbows at sunset while admiring alpenglow; savoring the aroma of pine forests.

“I’ve always been a mountain and wilderness kind of guy,” he said.

It seemed a natural leap for him to choose Big Sky as his post–high school home.

“I think I’ve really matured over this past year, just kind of life, if you move out you’ve got to pay for rent, do your clothes, wake up early and go to your job,” he said. “It really shapes your life – from being a kid to being an adult.”

The mountains have always been a source of positivity in his life. Both Spree and his mom Renate agree the move has been good for him. When he packed up his car to head for the Treasure State, he also packed his guitar – music was something his mom introduced him to a decade ago.

His first guitar – a cherry red Strat – created the foundation for the kind of musician he is today – an old soul with a penchant for the blues to match.

“I really dove into the blues about two years ago. I’ve always gone from genre to genre to figure out my own sound, but something about the blues really hit me. It called me – there’s just things in life that naturally call you,” he said. “So, now, it’s a whole blues universe for me, but it’s fun – it challenges me everyday.”

He is interested in the stories that are told and the various patterns that can be pursued. The blues never allow for boredom.

“It’s just soulful – you can feel it. With other genres you hear a lot of repetitive stuff. With today’s music, sometimes it feels like the same four chords over and over again – you can almost hum the song before you’ve even heard it,” he said.

His very first gig took place at the Riverhouse over the winter. He said his nerves got the better of him for the first couple of songs but soon, it just became natural. Whatever his future holds, he hopes that music will be a part of it.

Though only 20 years into life, he has seen the ups and downs; suffered regrets and a high cost for some of his mistakes. After getting into trouble early in his high school career, he righted himself partly thanks to the support, patience and love from his moms.

“There are bumps in life but it always comes through the other side,” he said of those difficult times.

A year into his stay in Big Sky, he has gone from being a lifty at Spanish Peaks, to now being a server at the Riverhouse, and a groundskeeper at Big Sky Golf Course.

He has no regrets for making the move. Also, he is appreciative of his mothers.

“Whatever we’ve gone through together, how they raised me – I wouldn’t change it at all. It led up to now. I think we’re all doing great and it’s awesome to see,” he said.

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