As Red Dirt founders and new musicians started hanging around the Farm, the property became more musically focused. A drummer who worked with LaFave before playing with Robert Earl Keen helped guide Keen's tour bus onto the Farm's lawn. Texas songwriter Guy Clark paid a visit, and Cooper remembers a young Garth Brooks watching older guys ply their craft at the Farm.

"I stopped even going into town," Pierce says. "Everybody would be out there, warming up and playing songs, and they'd be like 'Oh shit, it's 8 o'clock, we gotta go play our gig. We'll be back out here at 2 o'clock.'"

Pierce remembers near constant music. He'd go to bed while three or four guys were swapping songs around the fire and wake up to find a different two or three still going. Co-writes became standard. If you weren't sure about a verse, you could take it to the fire circle and get offered a line from someone there. Elder musicians advised those starting out how to tour, where to play, how to deal with money and, most important, how to write a song. As new musicians got on their feet, they were expected to return the favor to those who came after them.

Put simply, the Farm provided a space to create through a simple way of life. In the winter, Cooper says, they would pick 20 to 50 pounds of pecans from a grove to give away as Christmas gifts. Fresh garlic and vegetables grew in a garden that kept the kitchen stocked. They exchanged cherries from their orchard for homemade pies from an older woman who lived down the road.

"It was just about living life at a really basic level. Not trying to get anything over on anyone or be ahead of anyone," Cooper says. "It was communal living. It was a modern Okie commune."

That spirit drew not only musicians but artists of all kinds. Poets, writers and painters started to intermingle with guitar pickers. Artists would set up easels and either paint or sketch musicians in charcoal. Almost anyone was welcome, and in two decades the farmhouse that had no locks never had one theft, Cooper says.

"Living together in a mindful manner, long before 'mindfulness' became hip," he says. "This was teaching us how to live our lives with integrity ... in ways that made sense."


A curious thing happens when Red Dirt musicians talk. Their stories are laced with praise for others in their scene and deference to the ones who came before them. No name comes up more often than Bob Childers, considered the godfather of the scene in Oklahoma. He made his home at the Farm.

Across a three-decade career, Childers wrote more than 1,500 songs. The Tulsa World reported that at least 200 artists had covered his catalog. He died at age 61 of lung-related illness in 2008.

Childers was a West Virginia native who grew up about an hour north of Stillwater in Ponca City. He studied music at University of California-Berkeley and made stops in Austin and Nashville, but he always gravitated back to Stillwater and the Farm. After returning to Stillwater one more time in the '90s, Childers started living at the Farm, in a modest trailer filled with mementos inside and two pink lawn flamingos outside.

"That was definitely a turning point in the musical scene out at the Farm when Bob moved out there," Pierce says. "We'd been having parties, been having music, now Bob's there. So the songwriters are coming out more to pick songs and swap ideas."

"Cross-pollination" was one of Childers' favorite phrases, a reference to both types of music made and how the musicians collaborated.

"'It's all just one big damn band. It's like 50 guys all in the same band,'" Pierce says, quoting Childers. "Who's got the gig tonight? We'll show up, maybe we'll get on stage with ya, maybe we won't. That was just the community and the philosophy of it. I think people still feel that way. It's still one big fucking band."

Singer Monica Taylor remembers her first encounter with the prolific songwriter. A native of nearby Perkins, Taylor moved to Stillwater at age 19 or 20 for school and joined a bluegrass group. The band was practicing for a show one night and Childers came by to listen. When asked to play something, Childers sang a song called "Restless Spirits."

"It blew me away that such simple words like 'blue eyes crying in the rain' — a simple song, very few words — can spark so much emotion, picture (and) story in my mind," Taylor says.

After leaving Oklahoma for a while, Taylor moved back to Stillwater, where she lived next to Childers' trailer in a tent she'd cover with a tarp when temperatures dropped. She remembers musicians knocking on Childers' trailer door at all hours, wanting to get his blessing or guidance on a new song.

"He'd pull out a cigarette and sit down and cross his legs, and he'd say 'All right, whatcha got?'" she remembers. "And then he'd listen, and he'd lean back. I could always tell when he really liked a song. He'd lean back and his eyes would get kind of squinty and there'd be that smile, that toothy smile, and there'd be a glint in his eye, and he'd lean forward after the song."

« Previous Page
 |
 
1
 
2
 
3
 
All
 
Next Page »
 
My Voice Nation Help
1 comments
cajunscouse9
cajunscouse9

I was able to be a part of an interview with members of Ragweed a few years back. Cody was there, but talking to others a few feet away. I asked Randy Ragsdale who was the bands inspiration and he pointed at Cody. Shows the passion and influence that Cody has in not only inspiring musicians in other bands, but his as well. Top notch.

 
Dallas Concert Tickets

Concert Calendar

  • October
  • Thu
    30
  • Fri
    31
  • Sat
    1
  • Sun
    2
  • Mon
    3
  • Tue
    4
  • Wed
    5
Loading...