Writers in the Round: Philipsburg, Montana

One of the things about Philipsburg, Montana that I find so fascinating is the stellar entertainment found in its few short blocks. Thursday night’s was a gem. Helen Darling is a songwriter who has made it. Reba McEntire, Sir Cliff Richard and Mindy McCready are some of the singers who have recorded her works. The song, “Bring On the Rain” she co-wrote with Billy Montana made it to #1 on the Country Music charts when it was recorded by Tim McGraw and Jo Dee Messina.

Anyway, Helen Darling is a part-time resident of Philipsburg and throws a concert every year called Writers in the Round. It’s not just her, though. She pulls in other songwriters from Nashville who perform with her. Each takes turns singing the songs they wrote or co-wrote and in between jaw with each other and the audience. The show is a major fundraiser for the Granite County Historical Society-no one but the society makes a dime. As far as I’m concerned, the historical society is worth all the proceeds. It’s museum, for one, is terrific and I’m a huge fan of historical society museums.

Last year was the first time I was able to go to Writers in the Round and thought it was one of the best $20 I spent all summer. Last night was the second time I’ve gone. That’s the best $20 I spent this summer. (The Opera House performance was the best $16 and the Mining Museum in Butte was the best $10.) I enticed my friend who lives in Butte to drive over and he was happy that I talked him into it.

This year, as a celebration of the 10th year Helen’s been doing Writers in the Round, there are five performances. Read down this special events section for the schedule. There are four more that are rotating between venues. Two are at the Opera House and two are at the courthouse. (The courthouse is the oldest in Montana, by the way.) Last night’s was in the Episcopal church-a sweet looking white church building that sits up in a hill. If you’re ever in Philipsburg, here’s some info I just found out. The pews are from the church that used to be in Granite, the ghost town four miles from Philipsburg.