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Ozark Folk Center - Thumbpicking

18 May 04 - 09:20 PM (#1188147)
Subject: Ozark Folk Center - Thumbpicking
From: Mark Clark

Jan and I made our first pilgrimage to the Ozark Folk Center in Mountain View, Arkansas this past weekend and thoroughly enjoyed everything about the trip. It was the occasion of their Tribute to Merle Travis: National Thumbpicking Guitar Contest including concert performances by Thom Bresh, Tommy Flint, Comer “Moon” Mullins, Steve Rector and Jerry Greer.

One of the best aspects of the trip was getting to meet two Mudcatters. Dale is working to help catalog recordings of all the great performances that have been recorded at the Ozark Folk Center over the years and Arkie is Assistant Director of the Center. It was a real treat meeting these guys and getting an inside look at the Center and its work.

I kept hoping Justa Picker would show up and enter the contest but, alas, my hopes were dashed. He certainly would have been in the money. Maybe he'll get down next year. The weekend included concerts and the contest as well as formal jam sessions and workshops. It was a terrific opportunity to ask questions, pick up ideas and get the thumbpicking batteries recharged. I'd recommend this event to anyone even remotely interested in country fingerstyle guitar.

I'd also recommend the Ozark Folk Center to anyone interested in traditional string music of the southeastern U.S. You won't be disappointed if you make the trip. The Center's lodge is really a neighborhood of hexagon-shaped duplexes nestled in the woods. They've just been refurbished and make a very nice place to stay. Mountain View also has some bread and breakfast places though we didn't go through any of them.

Central Mountain View becomes the site for impromptu jam sessions of all sorts so you should definately bring an instrument if you play.

      - Mark

19 May 04 - 10:00 AM (#1188459)
Subject: RE: Ozark Folk Center - Thumbpicking
From: GUEST,Arkie

Mark, it was nice meeting you and having you in town over the weekend. Still wish you had entered the contest. You could have gone home with a little money in your pocket and possibly a brand new guitar. Thanks for the kind words about our park and town.

21 May 04 - 12:33 PM (#1190865)
Subject: RE: Ozark Folk Center - Thumbpicking
From: Mark Clark

I should add that one of the highlights of our visit to the Ozark Folk Center was an impromptu jam session behind the theater. Jeanne Cahill and Jerome Campbell of the group Call of the West—Jerome was one of the thumbpicking contestants—and fiddler Steve Mitchell who works at the Center played some of the most beautiful Bob Wills and Sons Of The Pioneers selections I've heard in a long time. Steve Mitchell has appeared on A Prairie Home Companion in the televised edition and told us he's been back in St. Paul filming another edition to be aired later. At the Center, Steve operates the donkey-driven merry-go-round and has a band that plays up the road in Calico Rock. We had to choose between the Thom Bresh, et al. concert for which we had tickets and driving up to Calico Rock to hear Steve Mitchell's band. It was a tough choice.

      - Mark