A Proud Mining Town Welcomes the Henhouse Prowlers

The Prowlers were able to stop into the small mining town of Hanna, Wyoming, this week and do two full days of Bluegrass Ambassadors programming, culminating in a collaborative performance in front of the students, their parents and members of the community. 

We'd like to extend a huge thanks to the HES principal Mark Shipp, the IBMA Foundation, Deering Banjo's and the Platte Valley Arts Council for making it all possible! See below for pictures and video of how it all unfolded.


 Hanna Elementary 4th graders rehearsing "Boil Them Cabbage Down" for the big show! We rehearsed just like we would be playing later that night on stage, of course.

Hanna Elementary 4th graders rehearsing "Boil Them Cabbage Down" for the big show! We rehearsed just like we would be playing later that night on stage, of course.


Hanna is proud of its heritage, and it showed when we arrived at the elementary school the first day. 

The front of the building is made to look like the entrance to a mine shaft and there's a museum exhibit right inside the door that chronicles the discovery of coal in 1843, two major mine disasters in the late 19th century, and many other events in the town's history.


 While it's designed to look like a mine, the wood is actually from snow fences along Route 80.

While it's designed to look like a mine, the wood is actually from snow fences along Route 80.

 Coal, a helmet, and yearbooks from the school.  Naturally, the school mascot is the "Hanna Miners".

Coal, a helmet, and yearbooks from the school.  Naturally, the school mascot is the "Hanna Miners".


Our first day consisted of working with all of the elementary students in Hanna along with some students that were bussed in from the neighboring villages of Elk Mountain and Medicine Bow. The fact that they included even smaller schools into the program shows how dedicated the staff and teachers are to their students' education.


This above video is a little bit of our teaching the kids to sing Guy Clark's "Home Grown Tomatoes" and then some of the performance in front of their parents.  The kids worked on concepts of LOUD and soft, and fast and slow.


  Deering Banjos  has a wonderful  Music in the Schools  program that allowed us to have 5  Goodtime  Special banjos waiting for us when we arrived in Hanna. Word is, the day after we left, four students asked to sign them out.

Deering Banjos has a wonderful Music in the Schools program that allowed us to have 5 Goodtime Special banjos waiting for us when we arrived in Hanna. Word is, the day after we left, four students asked to sign them out.

 A rare appearance of the "Case Monster" occurred with the kindergarten and first graders. 

A rare appearance of the "Case Monster" occurred with the kindergarten and first graders. 


  The fifth and sixth graders wrote songs with us and we were able to perform both of them in front of thier parents and the community. The kids were so bright and took to the process really quickly.  This song took less than 45 minutes to write. These are the lyrics to "Pizza and Potatoes", and below you can see the video of the final performance.

The fifth and sixth graders wrote songs with us and we were able to perform both of them in front of thier parents and the community. The kids were so bright and took to the process really quickly.  This song took less than 45 minutes to write. These are the lyrics to "Pizza and Potatoes", and below you can see the video of the final performance.


Alongside bluegrass and American folk music, we were able to share stories and music from our travels abroad. We played the video of Sitya Loss (Eddy Kenzo, Uganda) for the kids and it inspired great questions about Africa, dancing and other parts of the world.  Then we played it back to them on our instruments, alongside showing the translation from Luganda to English.

 Sitya Loss on the big screen right before we played our version.

Sitya Loss on the big screen right before we played our version.


There was so much more to these two incredible days of work with Hanna and the surrounding schools. Had we just been driving on Route 80 across Wyoming, we so easily could have missed this warm and welcoming town. Please stay tuned for a comprehensive video we're putting together that will chronicle the whole project. Thanks once again to all the sponsors and, most importantly, the students, families and staff of the Hanna school district. 

It was an honor to visit, play and get to know you all.