GUTHRIE, OKLAHOMA — At around the time most people in Guthrie were getting to work, the Cottonwood Campground was just stirring to life.
Musicians sometimes keep late hours, but some of them like waking up with a song too.
At the Oklahoma International Bluegrass Festival, a day before the official festival even started, a group of musicians were gathered and already playing at about 9 o’clock on Wednesday morning.
They like to call these morning sessions ‘coffee jams’.
Joe Baxter plays guitar and sings vocals.
Joe Hill plays a Dobro guitar.
T.Z Wright plays the accordion.
These friends might not see each other except for a few festivals each year.
This is the festival they all attend just about every year.
For three days they play bluegrass almost non-stop.
Joe HIll qualifies, “You could play 24 hours if you want to. Many of us have wised up over the years.”
During the festival there are lots of acts to see on stage.
Then there are the impromptu jam sessions like these where musicians share songs and new abilities they’ve gained on their instruments.
Joe Baxter says, “Everybody always works on a few new ones so we can spring them on each other.”
T.Z. Wright agrees. “The more you play the better it gets.”
Fellow campers wander through to stop and listen or to join in with their own instruments.
Former Guthrie mayor Chuck Burtcher runs camp security during the festival but he admits it’s an easy job.
“What kind of a collection of people is this,” asks a visitor?
Burtcher replies, “Well, I’m going to tell you. These are the greatest people in the world. I’ve been doing security here since the inception of this festival.”
“So it’s an easy job?” “It really is,” he says.
Bluegrass music has a way of smoothing out rough edges.
Where else can you find Birkenstocks and cowboy boots in the same pasture?
Coffee jam or coffee, toast, and jam.
It all sounds sweet beneath the big trees every year.
The 17th Oklahoma International Bluegrass Festival runs from October 3-5.
Kathy Mattea is this year’s headline act.
For more information on schedule or tickets got to http://www.oibf.com