Friday, May 3, 2013
"Yikes,” “Hmmmm,” “What the....?”
Great storytelling at Camas Festival May 24-25
This year’s Camas Festival, held May 24-25, features Bill Rossiter from Kalispell, MT, who has been singing and telling tall tales from ranch life to fur trade era scandals for many years. Bill is scheduled at 12:30 p.m. at the Weippe Community Hall on Saturday, May 25. Bill has been playing traditional finger-style guitar, autoharp and old-time “clawhammer” banjo music in bars, concert halls and back rooms for a really longtime. About his singing, reviewers have raved,
“Yikes!” as well as “Hmmmm,” and “What the…?” Sharon, Bill’s wife, often joins him in his performances. She sings, sometimes plays bass, and helps keep Bill on subject (he tends to ramble). Bill has been a farm laborer, railroad brakeman, Capuchin friar, factory worker, carpenter, newspaper columnist, editor, public relations flack, disk jockey, ghost writer and bartender. He was a professor of literature and illiterature (folklore) for 25 years, retiring in 1999. He currently travels the Northwest, singing about railroads, heroes and outlaws, the Irish immigration, the Civil War, mines and miners, cowboys, ranch life, the Great Depression and other eras of American history.
With his wife, Sharon, he sings songs of courtship, love, wedlock and deadlock from four centuries. He says he learned most of his songs at his mother’s knee and other low joints. He holds the world record for the most songs written about Spotted Knapweed: one.
Before going on the road as a soloist, he played with a Milwaukee Dixieland band, “The Beer City Six,” which sank without a trace; he then toured the U.S. with a Denver bluegrass band, “Bear Creek Canyon,” which was beamed up to the mother ship during a lunar eclipse. His jug band, “The Merrie Order of St. Bridget High-Steppers,” was run out of Greendale, WI, for refusing to play “Feelings.”
He currently plays with “The Grin and Bear it String Clan,” the “Rocky Mountain Rhythm Kings” Dixieland band and with “Note Worthy,” all of which have thus far survived his presence.
Recently he’s given concerts for western and heritage museums, ski and summer resorts, and art centers in Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and Nevada, town festivals and heritage celebrations, concert series, cowboy poetry and storytellers’ festivals, various clubs and organizations, reputable and otherwise, and exactly one zillion grade and high schools. He is in demand as an after-dinner speaker-entertainer throughout the Northwest.
Bill dislikes beets, has all his teeth, and likes old, weird songs. When asked his age he claims to be 69.99 plus shipping and handling; and although he does children’s programs and will fight for the right to sing children’s songs, he refuses to sing songs about froggies and duckies.
This program is made possible in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, the state based affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.