In my four weeks at the ranch, I’ve been blown away by the incredible entertainment that takes place in the saloon each week. First up we were treated to the soulful sounds of Kristin Ford and Anna Rae from Boston; while cowboy troubadour Jim Niner hits the mike every week before Gourmet Night.
And then there’s Dave Munsick... What can I say? - the man is a musical genius, a brilliant songwriter, an awesome fiddler, and a great entertainer with boundless energy, keeping the saloon crowd on their feet for hours on end most Thursday evenings, and creating a very weary (and hungover) crew the following morning.
(Dave and Sam playing in the saloon)
Dave and his sons - Tris, Sam and Ian - have been playing at Paradise for around five years, an arrangement which started after collaborating on the ranch’s 100th anniversary. And considering the Munsick Boys' reputation and profile, we’re incredibly lucky to have them.
Dave and his sons have performed with household names such as Chris LeDoux, Hank Thompson, Red Steagall and Ian Tyson. They also do a big Christmas concert (“which is nothing to do with Christmas”) in Sheridan each year, performing at the Wyo Theatre; while on the 18th of this month, Dave and Tris will be opening for Lyle Lovett in Casper, a 10,000-people venue.
Originally from back east, Dave moved to Sheridan in 1982 before the boys were born, managing a ranch out of Big Horn called Little Goose (which is actually the name of his record label). He now has his own place near Dayton, where they have their own recording studio and produce both solo and combined CDs.
Meanwhile the boys are scattered around the country; Tris is based in Austin, Texas, (where he works for Lyle Lovett, breaking his colts and helping him on the road), Sam is in Oregon and Ian in New Hampshire, but they still get together to perform whenever they can, with Dave calling his sons his “favourite people to play with”.
The family has always combined ranching and music, the two seemingly going hand in hand. “That’s how we grew up,” Tris says. “A lot of it is seasonal so you can have the freedom to play music too. It’s tough to make a living just with music. Or ranching, for that matter.”
“Besides the money part, for me it’s a sanity part,” Dave says. “If I just wanted to play music I’d be doing that a long time ago. If I just wanted to ranch, I’d be doing that a long time ago. It’s great to be doing both, you don’t get burned out and it makes your life pretty full.”
(Dave and eldest son Tris)
To date, Dave has released five CDs (including the Paradise CD, available in the office); Tris and Sam have solo albums, Ian is in the process of recording one, and as a quartet they are in the process of making a new album, each with three songs on it. As Aussie music guru Molly Meldrum says, "do yourself a favour" and take a listen - it's pretty contagious stuff!