Washtub music? Why, that’s just old-time, down home music made with washtubs, washboards, pots, pans, hands, feet and whatever else could be found to make music around the typical Montana homestead 100 years ago.

Crail Ranch is bringing back to Big Sky folk humorist, historian and musician Bill Rossiter to teach two classes for kids on Tuesday, July 12.

Bill Rossiter has been playing traditional homestead music for what he characterizes as “a reeeeeally long time.” He is a practitioner of finger-style guitar, autoharp and old-time “clawhammer” banjo music, and he is especially interested in music and songs associated with “long-haul” homesteading in Montana.

“After the settlers, pioneers, homesteaders and boomers finally put down roots,” says Bill, “the long haul began. Carving a home out of the “wilderness” or out of the “Great American Desert” was tough enough, but sticking it out, year after year, added flint to the soul. Drought, fluctuating markets, grasshoppers, dust storms, taxes—and of course, the mortgage — all show up in the ranch and farm songbook…”

Bill was the featured performer at the Historic Crail Ranch Community Appreciation Concert last August, where he entertained the crowd with songs and stories of the old West. Of his class for children, he says, “I show them how to make music with some pretty funny stuff. I make sure that they know, though, that the best thing they’ve got to make music with is their own voices. We’ll do plenty of singing along with the music-making.”

Two classes will be offered for free at Crail Ranch on Tuesday, July 12. The 10 a.m. – 11:30 am class is for younger kids ages 6-10; the 1 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. class is for kids ages 10-14. Kids can take both sessions. Please sign up by calling 406-993-2112.

Historic Crail Ranch is an authentic homestead museum located off Spotted Elk Road in the Big Sky Meadow Village area. It is a project of the Big Sky Community Corporation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization supporting parks, trails and other community programs in Big Sky.

–Al Lockwood