Every summer for fifteen years, Magic City Blues has attracted thousands and thousands of music fans from all across the country to Billings, the state's largest city. Magic City Blues, an urban music festival in a rural state, is a signature event for the City of Billings and the State of Montana. We are proud of our natural Montana hospitality, unique setting, fabulous lineups, and the appeal of The Last Best Place.

Downtown Billings, Montana -- Montana's Urban Music Festival: two nights of world-class entertainment in the heart of Montana's biggest city – 6 bands on 2 stages each night

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by Diane Larson

Mother’s Day, according to Wikipedia, “is a celebration honoring the mother of the family, as well as motherhood, maternal bonds, and the influence of mothers in society.”

Mother’s, typically, are the nurturer of the family, they bring unity and structure. Merriam-Webster defines nurture as “the sum of the environment factors influencing the behavior and traits expressed by an organism.”

So many moms throughout history have taken this ‘nurturer’ vocation beyond the confines of the immediate family. They take their nurturing spirit and put it to use in the community to create a better world. In turn, the world, or at least in the United States, we set a day aside to recognize these women.

Each year on Mother’s Day we celebrate these women. The roles they play in our lives vary. They are the nurturer, caregiver, chauffer, coach, tutor and much more.  As part of the classic celebration, moms are taken out to dinner and often are given flowers as a gift.

It had a much different beginning.

Mother’s Day, as we know it today, started as a day for anti-war recognition and protest.  In part, Mother’s Day rose from the bloodshed, carnage and horror of the Civil War. It also comes to us from the disease ridden Appalachian Mountains of 1858.

There are three main female players responsible for the recognition of Mother’s Day, Ann Jarvis and her daughter Anna, and Julia Ward Howe. These women took that nurturing spirit and worked tirelessly to make their world, our world a better place. They were the “sum of the environmental factors influencing the behavior and traits expressed by an organism.”

Ann and Anna Jarvis

Ann Jarvis of Appalachia is recognized, according to Zinn Education Project, as being responsible for the first Mother’s Day.  In the Appalachia mining communities of the 1800’s, infection and disease spread rapidly. Ann saw illness and death every day.  Infant mortality rate in this area was high. According to Wikipedia, Ann gave birth to possibly 13 children, and only four survived to adulthood. The measles, typhoid fever, and diphtheria epidemics that were common in the Appalachian communities took her children from her. It was these losses that inspired her to take action to help her community. Ann called “for mothers to work for better cleanliness and health.”

Ann learned from her brother, Dr. James Reaves, about how to improve the health and sanitary conditions in the home. As she learned the necessary skills she then passed them on. In 1958, Ann began Mother’s Day Work Clubs. These clubs were instrumental in improving living conditions. They raised money to buy medicine, or pay women to work in the home of other families where the mother suffered from health problems.

These clubs developed programs to inspect milk long before there were any state requirements. The club members visited households so they could educate the mothers and their families about improving sanitation conditions and being healthier. Gradually the lives and health of the community improved.  

Then the Civil War began. Jarvis’ Mothers’ Day Work Clubs had to alter their mission to meet the changing demands as Western Virginia became the location of some of the first conflicts. According to Wikipedia, “Ann Jarvis urged the clubs to declare neutrality and to provide aid to both Confederate and Union soldiers.”

Ann continued her work long after the war. She took what she had learned and began touring. She became a valued speaker and gave lectures on subjects from public health, religion and literature. Her lectures included, “Great Value of Hygiene for Women and Children” and “The Importance of Supervised Recreational Centers for Boys and Girls.”

One of Ann’s daughters, Anna, inspired by her mothers work, dedicated her life to creating a nationally recognized Mother’s Day. When her mother, died in May of 1905 Anna recalled how her mother would pray for a memorial day for mothers. On the anniversary of her mother’s death, Anna announced plans to create a memorial service to be held the next year on the day of her Mother’s death. The first service was held in 1907, it was private.  Then on May 10, 1908 the first public service was held at Andrews Methodist Church where her mother taught Sunday School for 25 years. Anna donated 500 white carnations for those who attended.

Concurrently, another service was held in Philadelphia, where Anna lived and where Ann lived out the end of her life, 15,000 people attended.

Her mother’s favorite flower was the carnation, so Anna chose the carnation to give to women. Red and pink carnations were given to persons with living mothers and white if your mother had passed away. 

From this grew the Mother’s Day as we know it today. But another character is required to make this more complete.

Julia Ward Howe

“Disarm, disarm. The sword of murder is not the balance of justice. Blood does not wipe out dishonor, nor violence vindicate possession.” Julia Ward Howe

Another woman who played a major role in the recognition of Mothers Day is Julia Ward Howe.

By the end of the Civil War in 1865, more than 620,000 American lives were lost; two-thirds of the lives lost were due to disease. The Civil War is said to be America’s bloodiest conflict. Lives lost in battles such as Gettysburg, Shiloh, and Antietam together with those who died of disease while in captivity shocked a nation.

One such person who was deeply affected by the Civil War was Julia Ward Howe. She was a woman whose nurturing spirit would, like Ann Jarvis, go beyond the walls of her home. Julia was a humanist who cared about the suffering of people. She devoted some of her time to the establishment of a day dedicated to the eradication of war.

Julia was a writer, a poet, an abolitionist, suffragette and one of the founders of Mother’s Day. Most notably Julia is known for writing the lyrics to The Battle Hymn of the Republic. The lyrics were written in 1861 on Julia’s first trip to wartime Washington. The day before she penned the famous lyrics, Julia had been meeting the Union troops at Bailey’s Crossroads.

As she passed among them she joined in with the soldiers who were singing “John Brown’s Body.” Knowing her literary capabilities, her minister suggested she write better words to the song, and according to The Washington Post, the next morning she awoke and penned the words we know as The Battle Hymn of the Republic.

Julia, affected by the devastation she saw during the Civil War and the destruction from the Franco-Prussian war. In 1870 Julia wrote, “Arise, then, women of this day! Arise, all women who have hearts, whether our baptism be of water or of tears!” These are the first lines of The Mother’s Day Proclamation. Julia was calling out to all women to take a stand.

In her ‘Proclamation,’ Julia appealed to women from all over the globe to unite for peace. Originally titled “Appeal to womanhood throughout the world” this declaration, according to Wikipedia, was tied to her, “feminist conviction that women had a responsibility to shape their societies at the political level.”  It is, also her pacifist reaction to the carnage that was the result of war.

In 1872, Julia asked for celebration to be a “Mother’s Day for Peace,” to be held on June 2 each year. Although she was unsuccessful, at the time, her work and influence would play an important part in the history of creating this day. She helped create an understanding of why one day a year be set aside to recognize and celebrate the mom’s in our lives.

Julia was married to Samuel Gridley Howe for 33 years. He was 20 years older than his young wife. He was a man who took charge of everything once they were married, to include her finances, to the displeasure of her family.

Julia said of Samuel, “I have been married twenty two years today.” she once wrote, “In the course of this time I have never known my husband to approve any act of mine. . . . Books, poems, plays, everything has been contemptible. . . .in his eyes, because it was not his way of doing things.”

Julia, while living what she referred to as ‘contemptible’ life, found the time and heart to give much to others.  Perhaps it was this life with Samuel that gave her the awareness and understanding that she writes about in her ‘proclamation’ that to her, women should be involved in the shaping their communities at a political level.

The pacifist, humanist, suffragette and poet that was Julia Ward Howe can be heard in her words she wrote in the Mother’s Day Proclamation.

Here in full text, as originally written, is Julia Ward Howe’s “Appeal to Womanhood Throughout the World” later to be known as “The Mother’s Day Proclamation” taken from the Library of Congress.


Again, in the sight of the Christian world, have the skill and power of two great nations exhausted themselves in mutual murder. Again have the sacred questions of international justice been committed to the fatal mediation of military weapons. In this day of progress, in this century of light, the ambition of rulers has been allowed to barter the dear interests of domestic life for the bloody exchanges of the battle field. Thus men have done. Thus men will do. But women need no longer be made a party to proceedings which fill the globe with grief and horror. Despite the assumptions of physical force, the mother has a sacred and commanding word to say to the sons who owe their life to her suffering. That word should now be heard, and answered to as never before.

Arise, then, Christian women of this day! Arise, all women who have hearts whether your baptism be that of water or of tears! Say firmly: We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies. Our husbands shall not come to us, reeking with carnage, for carresses and applause. Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience. We, women of one country, will be too tender of those of another country, to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs. From the bosom of the devastated earth a voice goes up with our own. It says: Disarm, disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice. Blood does not wipe out dishonor, nor violence vindicate possession. As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil at the summons of war, let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of council.

Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead. Let them then solemnly take council with each other as to the means whereby the great human family can live in peace, man as the brother of man, each bearing after his own kind the sacred impress, not of Cæsar, but of God.

In the name of womanhood and of humanity, I earnestly ask that a general congress of women, without limit of nationality, may be appointed and held at some place deemed most convenient, and at the earliest period consistent with its objects, to promote the alliance of the different nationalities, the amicable settlement of international questions, the great and general interests of peace.


Boston, September, 1870.


for MainstreetMontana.com 

by Tyler Morrison

Did you know that May is national hamburger month? May is probably more well known to include Mother’s Day and Memorial Day, but it also includes some lesser known, albeit fantastic sounding holidays. In the first week alone, May holidays encompass “Mother Goose Day,” “Lumpy Rug Day,” “International Tuba Day,” and of course, “Star Wars Day.”

Many of these holidays can prove to be pleasant distractions from the outright weather-anarchy of  Montana’s borderline personality climate disorder. I’ve been closely watching the neighborhood gardens, waiting eagerly to observe which of my neighbors will plant their tomatoes first. (The ritual of gardening in Montana demands a tomato sacrifice to prevent 10 inches of snow in the middle of May.) And while I enjoy any excuse to have a little silly fun, (Blame Someone Else Day, May 13th) Let’s talk about the noble hamburger.

Taken from Mrs. Lincoln’s Boston Cook Book, 1884:

“Hamburgh Steak. – Pound a slice of round steak enough to break the fibre. Fry two or three onions, minced fine, in butter until slightly browned. Spread the onions over the meat, fold the ends of the meat together, and pound again, to keep the onions in the middle. Broil two or three minutes. Spread with butter, salt and pepper.”

The only piece of the hamburger puzzle that seems to be unanimously agreed upon is origin of the name. The name comes from the German city of Hamburg, a person from Hamburg being a "Hamburger"; by extension inanimate objects such as ground beef patties that either originated or enjoyed early popularity there took the same name. (Unlike the city it is derived from, the word "hamburger" is spelled as a common noun, with a lowercase letter "H.")

The hamburger's history is quite disputed. In Hamburg it was common practice to put a piece of roast pork into a roll, called Rundstück, although this is missing the essence of the modern hamburger, that the meat first be ground.

Hamburg, New York, USA, also claims credit for the invention of the hamburger. This town celebrates a "Burgerfest" every summer, held to mark the anniversary of the hamburger's creation at the Erie County Fair in 1885.

Another claim is made by a small lunch counter in the town of New Haven, Connecticut, named Louis' Lunch. It is sometimes credited with having invented this quick businessman's meal for busy office workers in the late 19th Century. Their burgers are made the same way they were in the late 1800s, which means no condiments allowed; the only permitted garnishes are cheese, tomato, and onion.

Interestingly enough, due to widely prevalent anti-German sentiment in the USA during the First World War, an alternative name for hamburgers, “salisbury steaks," became more common for the duration; hamburgers' popularity even after the war was severely depressed until the fast food industry popularized a business model featuring sales of large numbers of small hamburgers (later sometimes called "sliders," "grease grenades," "gut bombs" and other dysphemisms) in the mid-1920s. The fast-food hamburger began its ascent to modern popularity when Ray Kroc opened the first McDonald's franchise in the mid-1950s.

Traditionally,  a hamburger is made primarily of ground beef, although it may also contain spices and other ingredients. This is also known as a beef hamburger or a "beefburger." A beef hamburger that contains no other ingredients besides the beef itself is referred to as an "all-beef hamburger" or "all beef patties" in many restaurants. Some prepare their patties with egg, bread crumbs, onions, parsley, or other ingredients. Today hamburgers can be found in nearly every part of the world. Over time the concept has evolved, and meat patties are decorated with an endless variety of creative, tasty toppings. The meat patties themselves have been replaced with healthier options, including black bean, turkey and salmon burgers. (though one might argue that these do not really qualify as burgers in the traditional sense).

If there should exist in the whole universe, one unifying force other than gravity, it must be the humble hamburger. Throughout the years, hamburgers have endeared themselves to a variety of food lovers. Restaurants across the country compete for who can create the biggest hamburger, and culinarians write books devoted to cross-country road trips in search of the very best burger. You can find hamburgers in tiny hole-in-the-wall diners and on the menus of Michelin-starred restaurants. In 2005, Las Vegas restaurant Fleur de Lys outdid themselves by creating a $5,000 hamburger served with champagne. Seems a bit silly to me, but it does prove the widespread appeal of this simple and tasty sandwich. Even now they continue to evolve.

I think the moral to the burger saga is this. There isn’t any official way to make a hamburger. They remain as personal and unique to each person as a fingerprint. They can fulfill a variety of styles based on your given mood at any time. The most important part to remember, is as always; eat with friends, eat with family, and it’s always better with cheese.


Big Sky Connection



Eric Tegethoff


May 4, 2017

HELENA, Mont. - More than 50 multi-millionaires have signed a letter urging President Trump and Congress to abandon their attempts to abolish the federal estate tax, the only tax on inherited wealth in the U.S.

Chuck Collins, heir to the Oscar Mayer fortune and author of the book "Born on Third Base," says the tax only applies to households with assets of more than $11 million. He adds the tax was put in place a hundred years ago to prevent the kind of inherited aristocracy the nation fought a revolutionary war over.

"In that way, the estate tax is a fundamentally American tax," he says. "It's really the way in which we protect a level playing field and ensure that too much inequality doesn't sort of upend our democratic system."

He says starting in the 1990s, a handful of wealthy families, including Mars, Walton, Gallo and others, invested millions lobbying to end the tax, a move that would save their heirs billions. Trump once called the tax a "burden on the American worker."

But Collins notes that more than 99 percent of Americans will never be subject to the tax, and is confident the estates that will take a hit can afford it.

Supporters of Trump's proposed tax plan argue lowering taxes on corporations and the wealthy will lead to a revived economy and ultimately increase tax revenues.

Collins acknowledges that cutting taxes for the middle class, along with increased wages, can boost the economy, but he says tax breaks for people with millions in the bank don't change their consumer behavior.

"Cutting taxes for multi-millionaires and billionaires actually has very little positive economic impact," he adds. "The rest of us have to pick up the slack, and "the rest of us" is the middle class."

Collins says if Trump's claim to a $10-billion net worth is true, eliminating the estate tax would effectively transfer $four billion from U.S. coffers to his heirs.


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