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Bluegrass music draws Oklahomans of all ages

The Greater Oklahoma Bluegrass Society has about 400 members across the state.
by Matt Patterson Published: January 19, 2013

Whenever Brad Bennett hears bluegrass, he finds himself swept up in the sweet, calming sounds of the music.

Bennett began playing the banjo in the 1970s when he was in his 20s. Eventually he traded that in for a wife and kids. He took up fishing and other pursuits, but after more than 30 years, he's hooked all over again.

“The sound is so unique,” Bennett said. “I like the lyrics of the songs. They're usually about some true event. Bluegrass just takes you to a place that you can see a little log cabin in the pines or a river in your mind's eye.”

Bennett is a member of the Greater Oklahoma Bluegrass Society, members of which have been getting together to pick and grin since 1978. There is a monthly concert and jam session at the Oklahoma Country Western Museum and Hall of Fame in Del City and other activities scattered throughout the state.

Society President Nathan Sanders said bluegrass remains popular in Oklahoma. The society has about 400 members in central Oklahoma and other parts of the state.

“There's a big interest in it overall,” Sanders said. “Most bluegrassers stick with it for a lifetime. People grow up with it, and it becomes a part of who they are. And other than that, it's a lot of fun.”

Sanders started playing guitar when he was 10 or 11. He has played in a string band for about 20 years, learning to play mandolin, bass and banjo.

“You'll find that a lot of bluegrass musicians play a lot of different instruments,” he said. “It's fun to try different instruments to see if you can pick them up. There's a curiosity there to see what it's like and if you can master it.”

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by Matt Patterson
Matt Patterson has been with The Oklahoman since 2006. Prior to joining the news staff in 2010, Patterson worked in The Oklahoman's sports department for five years. He previously worked at The Lawton Constitution and The Edmond Sun....
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