Folklorists, Musicians, & Activists

Tom Malloy of Butte, Montana/  Reclamation Expert

Tom wouldn’t consider himself an artist. He’s an engineer who is dedicated to the reclamation of toxic sites for Butte-Silver Bow County. Married to a Butte historical archivist, he loves the history of the tough people of many ethnicities who worked the mines of Butte in the early days. He appreciates the beauty of the City through its human legacy. So when he was approached to dance in the Cool Water Hula held on the edge of Butte’s superfund site, the Berkeley Pit, he readily agreed.

The Berkeley Pit, photo by Fritz Daily

The Berkeley Pit, photo by Fritz Daily

Cool Water Hula 2000, photo by Scott Atthowe

Cool Water Hula 2000, photo by Scott Atthowe

Nicholas Vrooman of Helena, Montana/  Folklorist, Historian, and Scholar

Nicholas Vrooman came to Montana as a ranch hand in 1975. Through the 1980s and 1990s, he was intimately involved in the development of the Northern Plains Indian Art Market. He was first State Folklorist of North Dakota, the Dakota Field Representative for ArtsMidwest (a regional consortium of state arts agencies), and second State Folklorist for Montana. He currently works with the University of Ottawa, Department of Metis Studies. Additionally, Vrooman was on the planning committee for all three years of the National Folk Festival in Butte, and was the curator for the final year. He continues to work with its successor, the Montana Folk Festival. In 2010 he was contracted by the Native American Rights Fund to write the official “Request for Reconsideration” to the Department of the Interior for the Little Shell Tribe of Montana in their petition for federal recognition. Now, contracted by the Little Shell Tribe, Vrooman's current project is writing and producing their official history book, “The Whole Country was ‘One Robe’”: The Little Shell Tribe's America," funded by the State of Montana.

Richard Dillof ( Dobro Dick ) of Livingston, Montana/  Writer, Musician and Antiquarian

Dick Dillof grew up back east and began studying old-time music at an early age. He started hopping freights and playing music and writing about his experiences, ending up in Montana where he’s spent most his adult years. He is a passionate antiquarian. His house is full of instruments, art, and curiosities, all with a story full of sound and romance.

We asked Dick, “What was it like to grow up in the east and then become a westerner, a Montanan?"

Ray and Shirley Jacobs of Eureka, Montana / Musicians and Luthier

Ray and Shirley live outside Eureka on a piece of land purchased in 1974. Over the years Ray held jobs at Boeing in Seattle, picked apples, worked in the forest, in a sawmill, and, for 23 years, was a public school teacher. He’s been officially retired for 20 years. Shirley hails from California and met Ray at a Montana fiddle contest. They are both devoted to learning and playing music. Ray is dedicated to making and teaching people to build simple, inexpensive stringed instruments.

William Rossiter of Kalispell, Montana/  Musician and Humanities Scholar

Bill Rossiter spent ten years as an actor and coffeehouse entertainer during the 1960s and early 1970s. Then he taught literature and folklore for 25 years and chaired the Humanities Division at Kalispell’s Flathead Valley Community College before retiring in 1999. Since about 1980 he has traveled throughout the Northwest, presenting songs and stories from various eras of American history, as well as teaching at Elderhostels and in short courses for teachers on the use of folklore in the classroom.

Michael Beers of Missoula, Montana/  Stand-Up Comedian, Disability Activist

Michael Beers has been a stand-up comedian since 2003. He grew up in Missoula with his mother, 3 sisters, their dogs, and a disability. He uses humor to bring people to his world for a good laugh with a palatable dose of social and political commentary. Michael has reconnected with his Native American birth family in recent years, adding to the complex textures of his life. He works to help others with disabilities develop meaningful lives.

Kate Davis of Florence, Montana / Sculptor, Artist, and Raptor Activist

Kate Davis maintains a raptor center on her property in Florence, and has done over 1300 programs educating Montanans about birds of prey. She started drawing at the Cincinnati Zoo as a child, and has been creating art ever since. In 2005 She met Bill Ohrmann and from him learned to sculpt birds out of shaped and welded metal.