By Tim Leeds
Montana native Mitchell John will kick off the tour for his fifth album, Pieces of My Life," with a benefit concert in Havre on June 21 in the Bigger, Better Barn at the Great Northern Fairgrounds.
Tickets to the concert are free, and a portion of the proceeds from album sales will go to benefit Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA,) an organization which helps children and people under age get proper representation and make sure they understand the situation and their rights.
"We've kind of joined up to work with these people," said John in a phone interview. "It kind of makes you feel like your music's worth something extra."
Mitchell said this is a new chapter of CASA in Havre, and "we're part of starting this " He said he has strongly supported the organization since he first heard of it a few years ago.
"They are angels in what they do," he said; "volunteers that give up their time to help these kids get through a tough time. A reason I like this so much is it's about kids; I feel like we're helping every kid that's in this program every time we step out."
John said he hopes people will come to the concert, see what they're saying, hear the music and maybe buy an album.
"Get a feel for this great new thing that's happening in Havre. Maybe like the music, too," he said. "Just get a ticket and come down and support this thing. I think it's going to be a fun time- we'll make it fun. We know how to do that."
John, a fifth generation Montanan, is originally from Red Lodge. He said he hasn't been doing much in Montana for a while, and is ready to come back. He said he is touring the state a lot this year, and plans to move his family back to Montana in 12 to 18 months.
He said a song on his next album, scheduled to be released this fall, includes "Montana on my mind," a song which pretty well describes his feelings. A four-volume boxed set has also recently been released for the fifth anniversary of his career, he said.
John said he's ready to get back to his roots. He said he'd like to get back to ranching when he's not on the road. His music is described as coming from these rural Montana roots; songs from his past, about the people he has known and the land he came from.
John said a major influence when he was growing up was his grandfather, the late Carl "Papa" Hansen. Hansen was a lineman for the Montana Power Company, and John said he spent a lot of time traveling the "highline" around Red Lodge with Hansen, who rode the lines on his horse, Kilowatt. John said he was building electrical substations while he was in kindergarten.
John also has connections with the Hi-Line in northern Montana. He said his grandmother, Bea Hansen, now of Billings, told him that his great-grandfather, Robert Lynos, was an engineer on the first Great Northern Railway train to cross through the state.
John said he tries to stay true to his heritage in his music.
"I believe in what I sing about," said John. "They say things that a lot of people want to hear, and they tell about the kind of life I love."
Tickets for the show are available, free of charge at Norman's Ranch and Sportswear at 114 Third Ave. in downtown Havre.