My Music. My Story. Hilary Buttrick.
Words by Elliot Shelton
What is it about music that makes something buried deep in the roots of your soul begin to churn? Admit it, all of our hearts flutter when we hear a piece that has some kind of extraordinary connection to a special someone, a transitional life stage, or a bad breakup. When thinking about a community member who might have some insight as to why we encounter music so intimately, Hilary Buttrick was the first person in my mind. Hilary is the Interim Dean at Butler University’s Lacy School of Business. Above all however, she is a music fanatic.
I met Professor Buttrick during my Freshman Year at Butler University, where I took a narrow flight of stairs to the basement of an old building, hung a sharp left towards a musky classroom and enjoyed my first law-based learning experience. One of the first things she made obvious was her love for music. Hilary has an affinity for a genre called “Shoegaze”. Popularized in the late 1980s- early 1990s, Shoegaze originated in the UK with bands like “My Bloody Valentine” and “Ride”. Hilary described the music to me as an, “Expansive kind of discordant sound that fills everything up. It’s not super challenging lyrically but it’s more about the music itself. Something about the discord in the music and the melody that my ear just loves. I’m not sure why that is.” Hilary also loves offshoots of this genre including anything related to the alternative rock sound. We bonded during our conversation of Seattle based grunge bands like Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, and of course Nirvana.
For Hilary, music has always been a personal soundtrack to every single moment or era in her life. As for us all, music takes her back to a particular place and time. “Music becomes a fabric of that time period in my life. For high school it was all about Grunge. College was always the Dave Matthews Band. Throughout all those years music was the one place I could go to in order to turn my brain off for a little bit”. Within the first week of that freshman Law class, Hilary had made it clear that she was an avid music festival enthusiast. She loves the crazy shenanigans that accompany a huge crowd of people all discovering new music at the same time. In her mind, this is a place where she can stop thinking about all the things she has to do and instead think about all the old things she’s done, and all the new things she wants to do.
Hilary doesn’t just listen to music, she experiences it. Hilary has attended some of the country’s largest and most popular music festivals. One that she mentioned in particular is the famous “Shaky Knees” festival in Atlanta, GA. Hilary has also had the pleasure of attending music festivals in Indianapolis like “Holler on the Hill”. I ventured to respectfully ask what my Law professor wore to glitter bombed and neon lit events (as I had only ever seen business casual out of my extremely professional Professor). She brought a smile to my face in saying, “I leave the pearls and heels at home. No business suit or anything. I try to get into the spirit of it all with a Boho sundress and some Birkenstocks. No glitter for me… it never comes off.” She reluctantly admitted to me with a genuine smile, “Maybe a little extra eyeliner if I’m really feeling it”.
Hilary graduated college with a degree in English. She was a self-proclaimed “Nerd” for every single aspect of the academic experience in college. She always had an underlying desire to get a PHD and teach but for a variety of reasons went on to get her Law degree. At the time, the Legal market was hot, and she felt she had a perfect skillset for the environment. As much as she enjoyed the fast paced and challenging environment, the dream job was always teaching at a University. The mystical powers that be coincidentally posted a job opening seeking a lawyer to teach a Legal Environment of Business course at Butler University. The rest was history. Hilary described the experience as a, “Serendipitous accident”.
In regard to music’s impact on the Indianapolis community, Hilary put it simply by saying, “Everyone has a desire to see good live music. Whatever venue you feel comfortable with, everybody likes the experience of connecting with other people over live music. When you think about taking that desire and having the complement of other things going on like, bars, restaurants, and ride shares thrive from the combination of entertainment and the desire for it. Without live music many things suffer”. The pandemic strained all kinds of local venues and it is undeniable that the community misses it terribly. We all know that live music is at the heart of a community’s ability to thrive. I agree with Hilary on this one, music is intimately connected to the heart of some of life’s most worthwhile experiences.