Giving voice to the music of the miners |

Giving voice to the music of the miners

Jarid Shipley
Appeal Staff Writer
Chris Bayer will perform Monday at the Brewery Arts Center, showcasing songs of the miners on an early 19th century fiddle and a banjo. Cathleen Allison/ Nevada Appeal

Chris Bayer hopes to show that true Western songs have nothing to do with cowboys. He contends that the songs of the miners were the songs of the West, musically telling the stories of a large piece of Nevada’s history.

Bayer is the author of “The Miner’s Farewell” and will be singing songs from the 1849-1920 era 7 p.m. Monday at the Brewery Arts Center.

“When people think about the West, the movies make us think of cowboys, but there weren’t a lot of cowboys. It was more miners and mining songs,” Bayer said.

The songs range from long ballads outlining the lives and struggles of the miners in Nevada and California, to short rhymes about everyday life. The songs provide a glimpse into the events of the time and provide a picture of the mining towns, according to Bayer.

“These songs give intricate details about what miners are doing and living with,” Bayer said. “These are rough songs, not songs for polite society.”

The performance is part of the regular series put on by the Carson Music Club. The club, of about 50 members, hosts concerts and performances throughout the year, including piano recitals, jazz concerts and a bluegrass barbecue.

“It’s not only for performers because there are a lot of people who love music and don’t play instruments,” said Jane Theiss, club president. “This gives them the opportunity to do what they do best.”

Bayer said the performance will feature three of the eight instruments he plays, including the five-string or minstrel banjo, guitar and accordion.

The presentation will also include information about what inspired the lyrics to the songs.

Bayer’s fascination with the mining towns and culture began more than a decade ago, when he learned how underappreciated and how little information there was on the songs and traditions of the miners.

“There was this great hope for a life that was wild and free, away from polite society,” Bayer said.

Bayer gave a similar presentation for the group last year and was asked to present more of the era’s songs at the upcoming meeting.

• Contact reporter Jarid Shipley at or 881-1217.

If you go

What: “Music of the Miners” performance by Chris Bayer

When: 7 p.m. Monday

Where: Brewery Arts Center Performance Hall, 511 W. King St.

Price: a $3 donation is suggested.

Call: 883-1922 or 882-9517 for more information

By Baldy Green

I’ll tell you all a story,

And I’ll tell it in a song

And I hope that it will please you,

For it won’t detain you long;

‘Tis about one of the old boys,

So gallus and so fine,

Who used to carry mails,

On the Pioneer Line.

He was the greatest favor-ite,

That ever yet was seen,

He was known about Virginny

by the name of Baldy Green.

Oh, he swung a whip so gracefully,

For he was bound to shine –

For he was a high-toned driver,

On the Pioneer Line.

Now, as he was driving out one night,

As lively as a coon,

He saw three men jump in the road,

By the pale light of the moon;

Two sprang for the leaders,

While one his shotgun cocks,

Saying, “Baldy, we hate to trouble you,

But just pass us out the box.”

When Baldy heard them say these words,

he opened wide his eyes,

he didn’t know what in the world to do

for it took him by surprise.

Then he reached into the boot, saying,

“Take it, sirs, with pleasure.”

So out into the middle of the road

went Wells and Fargo’s treasure.

Now, when they got the treasure box

they seemed quite satisfied,

for the man who held the leaders

then politely stepped aside.

Saying, “Baldy, we’ve got what we want,

so drive along your team,”

and he made the quickest time

to Silver City ever seen.

Don’t say “greenbacks” to Baldy now,

It makes him feel so sore,

He’d traveled the road many a time,

but was never stopped before.

Oh, the chances they were three to one,

and shotguns were the game,

and if you’d a been in Baldy’s place,

you’d a shelled her out the same.

By Casey Jones

Come all you muckers and gather here

A story I’ll tell you of a miner dear

Casey Jones was the miner’s name

On Burleigh machine he won his fame

Casey Jones was a 10-day miner

Casey Jones was a 10-day man

Casey Jones took a chance too many

And now he’s mining in the promised land

The story I am about to tell

Happened at a mine called the Liberty Bell

They went into the crosscut and mucked her out

And Casey said, “We’d better step about.”

Casey said, “We’d better dig in

Before that damned old shift boss comes in;

If he finds out we’ve been taking five

He’ll send us to the office to get our time.”

They went into the crosscut, put up the bar

Placed the machine up on the arm

Put in a starting drill with its bit toward the ground,

Turned on the air, and she began to pound

Casey said, “If I haven’t lied,

There is a missed hole on the right-hand side.”

His partner said, “Oh gracious me,

If it ever went off, where would we be?”

They went into the crosscut to drill some more

The powder exploded with a hell of a roar;

It scorched poor Casey just as flat as a pan,

And now he’s a mining in the promised land.

Casey said just before he died,

“There’s one more machine I would like to have tried.”

His partner said, “What can it be?”

“An Ingersoll jackhammer, now don’t you see?”