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Revitalizing Butte's Mining and Labor Music History

The Clark Chateau is excited to announce the New Songs for Butte Mining Camp Project. Under grants from the Montana Cultural Trust and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), a total of fifteen musicians were commissioned to reinvent historic Butte mining and labor songs in their own unique style. As part of the project, they spent time researching Butte history, with assistance from the Butte-Silver Bow Archives. Each musician presented their work at a mid-day Brown Bag talk scheduled on Fridays at the Archives, followed by a Saturday night performance at the Clark Chateau. The completed songs were performed for the public at these performances and recorded for posterity. 

In 2023 Humanities Montana awarded the Clark Chateau a grant for the publication of a book of essays written by participating songwriters. This publication will also include a reprinting of the original New Songs for Butte Mining Camp Songbook. This book will be available to the public in the summer of 2024. 

The first four concerts occurred between December 2021 to April 2022 and were funded by the Montana Cultural Trust under the Montana Arts Council. The Montana Cultural Trust is funded by coal severance taxes paid based upon coal mined in Montana and deposited in Montana's cultural and aesthetic projects trust fund. This first set of concerts featured musicians Aaron Parrett, Jessica Catron and her band, Missincinatti, Christy Hays, and the band Cash for Junkers.

 

Ten more musicians were funded under a new Grant for Arts Projects through the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). These Performances occurred between May 2022 to October 2023.  These musicians included Sean Eamon, Clark Grant, Aaron Jennings, John Dendy, Roy Ivy, Dublin Gulch, Zinnia, The Pettifoggers, Dylan Running Crane and Ben Larson.

“The National Endowment for the Arts is proud to support arts projects like this one from the Historic Clark Chateau that help support the community’s creative economy,” said NEA Acting Chair Ann Eilers. “The Historic Clark Chateau in Butte is among the arts organizations nationwide that are using the arts as a source of strength, a path to well-being, and providing access and opportunity for people to connect and find joy through the arts.”

We are funded in part by coal severance taxes paid based upon coal mined in Montana and deposited in Montana's cultural and aesthetic projects trust fund. 

Artists

Aaron Parrett is a writer and musician in Helena, Montana. He published many articles and stories and several books, including Literary Butte, a survey of the vast literary output of the Mining City. He also runs the Territorial Press, a letterpress studio, and is Professor of English at the University of Providence.

Christy Hays and Ben Pickett

Christy Hays is a national touring songwriter and former longtime resident of Austin, TX. Hays has released six studio albums and in 2018 was on the cover of the Austin Chronicle for her song "River Swimmer". Hays is a classic country and folk songwriter, full of imagery and depth in her writing. Permanently relocating from Austin, TX to Butte, MT in 2020, Hays started a writers in residency program called "Dear Butte'' under the non-profit Working Quiet. "Dear Butte'' hosts one writer per month in a home in Walkerville, MT. 

Sean Eamon was raised in Anaconda and has lived in Butte around twenty years. He gravitates towards traditional country with a few other kinds of music, like New Orleans jazz and bluegrass. He has released two LPs of original music and a third is on the way.

His family history with the Anaconda company is multiple generations of employment and predates the original New Songs of Butte Mining Camp book to his great-great grandfather working on the Butte, Anaconda and Pacific Railroad in the 1890s.

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Jim Schulz worked as science and history teacher at Helena Middle School from 1986 to 2015. Jim is a state and nationally-recognized educator. In the 1990s, he was the co-director of the Montana Historical Society Hands-On History Camp in Virginia City. He has worked for the National Science Foundation as a teacher researcher in the Grand Canyon and Antarctica. After retiring, Jim joined the Montana Historical Society as an outreach presenter. He conducts professional development workshops for teachers in underserved regions. For four decades, Jim has performed as a solo artist or with Dublin Gulch, a traditional Irish band from Butte.

Rachael Cardiello is a classical violist, leader of the synth-pop-art-rock band ZINNIA, and co-collaborator of TIDAL MOUTH. Raised in the mountains of Montana, Cardiello has toured extensively throughout the USA, Canada and Europe with her own projects and a variety of other bands. Her writing revolves around human complexity and emotional journeys - as can be heard in her most recent release Sensations in Two Dot which strives to find compassion within moments of doubt or her upcoming album Dollar Store Disco which is jam packed with divorce anthems and rebound ragers. 

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MISSINCINATTI cultivates songs with roots in the pre-industrial era and branches that point toward a variety of contemporary musical practices. Undiscovered wonders of the world, maritime fables, and work in the mines are brought to life through sonic re-imagining that dims the lights on old melodies, while allowing the inherent drama to emerge from the shadows. Through lo-fi sound design, improvisation, and harmonically rich instrumentals, Missincinatti creates new from old. Inspired by storytellers, the trio uses history to illuminate the present - provoking thought, often poking fun at ourselves, and reminding us of a time when there were bare spots on the map of the world and our history was cobbled together through the spoken word. Missincinatti is Jeremy Drake, guitar/vocals; Jessica Catron, cello/vocals; and Corey Fogel, percussion.

A band since 1998 Performing in the Northwest, playing original music inspired by early Honky Tonk and Western Swing colliding with Post Punk and Tom Waits. 

John Dendy is a songwriter and upright bass player from Helena.  He leads Dendy and the Delta T and accompanies Aaron Parret in The State Champions.. John moved to Montana from Alabama in 1995.  He's the Executive Director of the Helena Business Improvement District and is the founding host of The Myrna Soundstage.

Wailing Aaron Jennings is a singer and songwriter living in Missoula, Montana.

A third-generation Montanan who had the good luck or bad timing to be born in Texas. Inspired and challenged by a book of songs and poetry written by his Great-Grandfather; a singing cowboy in the 1920’s and the words “Yodel Here” a young punk unplugged his guitar and started hooting and hollering in the mountains, valleys, and tunnels.

Jennings’s songs champion the traditions of Honky Tonk and Western Swing while giving a knowing wink and a nod to the modern world. Every song is a story whether it’s a rambling waltzing exposition, a dance tune punctuated with acrobatic yodels, or a rockin boogie woogie – the ghosts of the past are jumping, shouting and dancing right along with Wailing Aaron Jennings (and YOU!).

Jennings has performed across the Northwest at Breweries, Dive Bars, Vineyards, Guest Ranches, Hot Springs, Campgrounds, Underpasses, Historic Chapels, Farm Parties, Pool Parties, Birthday Parties, Theaters, and Nudist Colonies. Memorable anecdotes, old jokes, and older songs are all part of the journey for him, and at the end of the night: if it feels like the ghosts of the past are dancing arm in arm with you and your hopes for the future? Well that’s just dandy.

His tunes will keep you thirsty for more, his guitar will keep you dancing, and his voice will keep you spellbound.

Long tall Texas troubadour turned meaty Montana minstrel Roy Ivy has been on the ropes as an artist for three decades now, but the codger still packs a wallop when the bell dings. From his explosive rise in indie rock with The Polyphonic Spree, the implosion of his Dallas punk band The Tah-Dahs, the ridiculousness of his stint in Chicago's The Blue Ribbon Glee Club (still the world's first a cappella punk rock choir), and his latest reinvention as stripped-down singer-songwriter, Roy has endured as a pugilist of pop music. His jaunty melodies, jaundiced lyrics, and blithesome live performances deliver haymakers to hearts and funny bones, and audiences often call it "magical" whenever he steps into the ring. Roy Ivy can be currently found in Butte, Montana, where he is slowly working on his final album, boning up on boxing terminology, and trying to solve his brother's murder.

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With backwoods Vermont jam band origins and an Alaskan bluegrass education, Ben Larson developed his storyteller ways over years of hitchhiking and wandering from Australia to Newfoundland and a thousand places in between. He finally settled into the small historic mining town of Philipsburg, MT, where he now alternates his days between carpentry and weaving his observations into eclectic, gruff, yet deeply poetic country songs. Going beyond the music cliches of cowboys, hippies and traveling troubadours, Ben tells the stories of his family and friends living in the modern rural west, anecdotes from a life on the road and words of wisdom compiled from years living outdoors and working with his hands.

The National Endowment for the Arts is proud to support arts projects like this one from the Historic Clark Chateau that help support the community’s creative economy,” said NEA Acting Chair Ann Eilers. “The Historic Clark Chateau in Butte is among the arts organizations nationwide that are using the arts as a source of strength, a path to well-being, and providing access and opportunity for people to connect and find joy through the arts.

Ann Eilers

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