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Mike Masterson inaugurates new Cody Center Interdisciplinary Cafe

Posted February 25, 2009

POWELL, Wyo. - The Northwest College Cody Center's Interdisciplinary Café is back with a new date, time and place. Mike Masterson of the Buffalo Bill Cowboy Band will lead off the new venue at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 10, in the Grizzly Room of the Park County Library in the Park County Complex.

Masterson's topic is Buffalo Bill Cody's Wild West Band and its music. He'll take his audience back in time with images from the Wild West show and sound clips from a CD by the Americus Brass Band.

"My goal is for people to recognize the Wild West Show for the cultural event it was," Masterson said. "We'll cover the history of the music and the role of the band in the show. And I'll ask the audience to listen for values of the time. In the late 19th century, America was a diverse population of rural, urban, immigrants and natives. They're all represented in the music of Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show. It's a much more complicated cultural message than what you'd expect from a so-called western performance."

Like in today's movies, Masterson says the soundtrack from the old show is "just as representative and informing as the meaning of the show. It's understated because it doesn't use words, but it communicates much more about the culture. It goes beyond words."

Masterson's fascination with the Buffalo Bill music began with his doctoral dissertation and has led to several other unexpected opportunities to keep the sound alive in contemporary culture. Several years ago, the Americus Brass Band contacted Masterson for his expertise when they recorded a CD of the music. Later, that recording became part of the soundtrack for "Hidalgo," a Disney movie. More recently, the Chicago Symphony called on Masterson for guidance in understanding the role of the music as it prepared for a "New World Symphony" performance.

On a local level, Masterson has kept the sometimes raucous, but always engaging Wild West Show soundtrack alive through performances by a new Buffalo Bill Cowboy Band, made up of musicians from Wyoming, Montana and a few other states.

The public is invited to enjoy appetizers along with the music and cultural exploration in this interdisciplinary cafe. Admission is free.