Sunday, August 12, 2007

Guthrie Park - the Oregon's Bluegrass Field of Dreams

Where in Oregon can you go to play bluegrass music and come back years later only to remembered?

It's Guthrie Park. Fourteen years ago it was suggested by several friends, including my mother, that I attend the weekly jam session. It seemed a mystery from the start. Everybody, when asked about its location, said the same thing; "From Salem, go to Dallas and take a right." With such a short direction it had to be easy to find. Six miles outside of Dallas towards Fall City lies the one-room school house where, for 20 years now, folks from surrounding counties meet every Friday at 6 p.m. to play their favorite songs.

Pull up a chair, everybody gets a chance to play their song. People dance to waltzes, polkas, and bring their tambourines. The variety of musicians vary quite a bit. This last time I attended there were the standard fiddlers, mandolin and banjo players. But to the color is added washtub bass players, spoons, bones, bodran and even a saw player.

The sole owner of the former one-room school house is Sally Clark. A mandolin player like myself, I have known her to be earnest in her commitment to Polk and Marion counties' acoustic musicians: a place to play your instrument every Friday. Both youths and seniors often come in droves to see the best-valued entertainment in the area. It doesn't cost a dime, (donations are, however, taken next to the free cookies and punch offered to help defray facility operation costs.)

So if you live in Oregon... you owe it to yourself to go back to the country. A place where old-timey tunes, Irish and folk tunes can be heard from the lone school house on the hill, Guthrie Park.

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