August 25
Ariel Downing, PhD
Ariel Downing, PhD

This summer The Brinton Museum presents Canyons & Crescendos: Music of the American West, an evening exploring the fascinating history of popular cowboy songs. From the open range era through the classic Westerns of the 1950s and 60s to the present day, guests will learn what made these songs so important to the life of a cowboy, and the American people. Dr. Ariel Downing will present this entertaining lecture alongside guitarist Dave Munsick, who will play a selection of the most iconic cowboy songs, including The Girl I Left Behind Me, The Strawberry Roan and Cowboy’s Lament, Little Joe The Wrangler and Don’t Fence Me In.

“The American cowboy is recognized and admired around the world, and cowboy songs are among the most important genres of American folk music. These are the melodies and lyrics that assured cattle of the cowboy’s night-time presence, and movie audiences of the 1930s and 40s that all really was right with the world. ”

Dr. Ariel Downing

Bill Gollings, Pack Outfit at Sunset, Museum Collection
Bill Gollings, Pack Outfit at Sunset, The Brinton Museum Collection

Canyons & Crescendos takes place on Thursday, August 25 at 6:30 p.m. and includes an authentic chuck wagon dinner in the Brinton Pavilion with a front row seat to the Bighorn Mountains under a full moon.


Ariel Downing

A Wyoming native, Ariel Downing completed her Ph.D. in musicology at the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1997. Downing’s doctoral dissertation is entitled Music In Cowboy Culture of the Powder River Basin, Wyoming and focuses on perceptions of the cowboy-western music and images, the changing musical traditions among ranch folk in the Powder River Basin, and the impact of mass culture on their lives.

Downing has played tuba, euphonium and bass trombone in numerous symphony orchestras, wind bands and jazz ensembles in northeast Wyoming and north-central Colorado, and currently participates in chamber ensembles, concert and jazz bands in the Sheridan area. She also serves as the coordinator for the annual Tuba Christmas performances in Sheridan, Wyoming, is also a member of the adjunct faculty at Sheridan College, teaching courses in music history and music education, and is the curator of museum education at The Brinton Museum.

Dave Munsick

Dave Munsick has played music for most of his life. Beginning with piano as a boy, he later taught himself to play fiddle and guitar, and has learned to use these instruments along with his voice in order to express himself in the realm of song. Instrumentally he tends to draw on elements of jazz as a way of adding dimensions to folk, rock, and country compositions. He continues to write, record, and perform music in venues ranging from intimate house parties to concert halls and has recorded five albums of his original songs as well as two albums with his three sons that showcase the individual songwriting and musicianship talents of each member of the family band. Munsick also composes music for the private sector.