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Great State: Bluegrass Music from Japan and Sweden Travels Well in Guthrie

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GUTHRIE, OKLAHOMA -- If the music you listen to hits just right, and if you listen often enough, part of it stays with you.

Who knows if any of these grade school kids who came to Guthrie on a Friday morning field trip might someday pick up an instrument to play Bluegrass, but that's how it happens.

Totte Bergstrom was a kid in Sweden when his brother brought home a Flatt and Scruggs record.

"Worried Man Blues," he recalls. "I remember it."

His current band is called 'The Bluegrass Vikings'.

Ozark mountain music is in his blood now.

"It stuck huh," asks a festival visitor?

"Well," he chuckles. "Here I am 45 years later."

Masuo Sasabe followed the folk music boon in the early '60's too without really knowing what he was listening to.

In broken English he says, "We didn't know name of that music, like with banjo, guitar, and mandolin."

The Guthrie International Bluegrass Festival got its start when fiddler Byron Berline brought his own brand of musical diplomacy home and invited campers to Cottonwood Creek to listen.

That was almost 20 years ago, and more flags are flying all the time.

"The are my roots," insists Bergstrom. "This is why I started playing guitar."

Bergstrom and Sasabe shared the big, outdoor stage for a workshop on Friday.

Japan, Sweden, and Oklahoma linked by six strings on a guitar and the kind of music that's proven to travel anywhere.

The Oklahoma International Bluegrass Festival runs 1-3 at the Cottonwood Creek Campground in Guthrie, Oklahoma.

For more schedule and ticket prices go to oibf.com