Bluegrass comes to the sandhills

By Michael Harrell: Freedom Newspapers

Friends of Bluegrass, a local club of musicians with a mission to keep bluegrass music alive, will come together in performance this Saturday for the Old Tyme Music Concert at Oasis State Park.

The members, a majority of them older men and women, will play a myriad of traditional bluegrass and country songs. The concert lasts from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. in front of the park administration building, according to Hershel Parker, the event organizer.

“Four hours is a lot of music,” Parker said. The club’s 25 members will be taking turns playing music with each other.

“It will be laid back. We will just start playing, mainly by ear and memory. If the audience requests something, we will try and do it,” Parker said.

The concert itself is free, but a $5 park entrance fee still applies. It is sponsored by the Friends of Oasis State Park as a way to raise some funds for the park, according to Parker.

“We’re hoping that this event will attract both new and frequent visitors looking for a good time amidst the backdrop of a beautiful park,” said Park Manager Jim Whary.

Whary advises spectators to bring lawn chairs. Beverages will be available for purchase, though no alcoholic drinks will be allowed, according to an Oasis State Park press release.

“This is its first year. If it works great, we will try to do it annually,” Parker said.

Not every Friends of Bluegrass member will be performing, but a few from as far away as Amarillo and Roswell will be driving the distance to play the music they love, said Dale Henson, the Friends of Bluegrass president.

Guitar, banjo, fiddle, bass and mandolin are a few of the basic instruments used, Parker said.

The club, which consists of members from around the area, meets every Thursday at the old Farwell community center to sit around and play old bluegrass music together, according to Henson. Friends of Bluegrass was established in 1980, he said.

“It’s fun; we enjoy doing it. We want to keep bluegrass music going,” Henson said.

The club includes people from all different kinds of trades, according to Henson. Some of the players who attend the meetings are very good, he said. There are about 15 families who come.

“We play music for about two hours each week, mainly traditional bluegrass,” Parker said. “We just like playing the older stuff.”