In pioneer Arizona, among the best places to experience the performing arts were in the mining towns. Striking it rich meant having disposable income and miners, like the well-heeled of the Gilded Age, wanted to demonstrate their sophistication with culture. From the early popular music of ragtime and minstrelsy during the forming of these communities evolved orchestras, opera and glee clubs—all in hamlets like Tombstone. Here, a miner off shift at the Bird Cage could enjoy the proceedings while gambling at a table, or listen behind drawn curtains with a companion of his choice. Perhaps the most popular form of musical entertainment was the concert band, in shells and stages.
Jay Craváth, Ph.D. is a composer, writer, and scholar in the field of music and Indigenous studies. Dr. Craváth crafts programs from these interests into interactive discussions that include stories, musical performance, and illustrations/photography. His most recent publication is: The Mohave Book for Little Ones. Dr. Craváth is the Cultural Director for the Chemehuevi Indian Tribe.