Ariel Downing, PhD

A Lecture, Music and Dinner Program on the Quarter Circle A Ranch


BIG HORN, Wyo. (July 11, 2016) – 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 1960s 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.

“Canyons and Crescendos will recreate the nostalgic mood of lonesome cowboys, cow camps and old-time songs sung under starlit skies,” said Brinton Museum curator, Ken Schuster. “It’s a playful and informative history lesson about music and life in the West, and a celebration of our American roots.”

Canyons & Crescendos is 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. Tickets cost $25 for adults, $15 for children ages 6-12 and free for children under 5. They are available at the front desk of the museum or online at

“The American cowboy is recognized and admired around the world, and cowboy songs are among the most important genres of American folk music,” said Downing. “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.”

About 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.

About 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.

About The Brinton Museum
Founded in 1960, The Brinton Museum is a fine arts institution devoted to preserving the art and history of the West. Located on the historic Quarter Circle A Ranch in the foothills of the majestic Bighorn Mountains, it features 19th, 20th and 21st century American and Indian Art in a setting that is art unto itself. The new Forrest E. Mars, Jr. Building opened in June 2015, propelling The Brinton to its highest-ever annual visitation when the museum welcomed more than 20,000 guests from all 50 states and 30 different countries. Regular admission to The Brinton Museum is $10 for adults, $8 for students and seniors, and free for American Indians with tribal ID; active military, veterans and their families with military ID; and children 12 and under. The Brinton Museum offers individual, family and corporate memberships, featuring a number of benefits, including free reciprocal admission to hundreds of museums throughout the U.S. Museum hours are 9:30-5 p.m., 7 days a week. The Brinton Museum is located at 239 Brinton Rd., in Big Horn, WY.