Jul 24, 2011
If you follow the silky sweet sounds of music floating from Moore’s Old School Building on Thursday nights, you just might find yourself transported back in time to an era of history that doesn’t find its way onto many iPods these days.
Gathered on the auditorium stage are an aging, but energetic, group of the area’s best musicians. They describe themselves as being “sixties-ish”…with an emphasis on the “ish,” but don’t let their age fool you. For about four hours each Thursday, their energy level rises as they play their way through a wide repertoire of old-school country songs, gospel favorites, early rock and roll and even a little bluegrass.
Moore resident Tom Gray is one of the minds behind this gathering of somewhat overlooked talent. Gray has played bass for most of his life, even playing gigs with Oklahoma great, Wanda Jackson. Gray says he and good friend Larry Craft, another Moore resident, had been traveling to places like Tuttle, Newcastle and Del City to play in jam sessions. They began to talk about finding something closer to home.
“We were talking about finding someplace in Moore to do this and not have to drive 40 miles to play,” said Gray.
So they started looking around Moore for a place to gather and quickly ran across Charlie Cotton, co-owner of the Old School Building on North Broadway back in November of 2010.
Gray said, “He just opened the doors and said, ‘Come on in.’ And so basically that’s how we started.”
One of the “early invitees” to the group was yet another Moore resident, Wade Anderson. Gray gave Anderson a call to see if he’d be interested in joining the sessions.
“We had played together all over,” said Anderson. “So when they got organized, he called me and said, ‘How ’bout it?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, let me think a second…I’ll be there.’”
The crew quickly blossomed to a weekly gathering of 15 to 18 players featuring acoustic and electric guitars, bass players, electric pianos, vocalists and just about anything else you could imagine. On any given Thursday night, visitors are liable to hear everything from George Strait and Merle Haggard to The Kingston Trio and Sonny James.
Other regular members of the “Thursday Jammers” include acoustic guitarist Mel Autrey and lead guitarist Bobby Cotner. Gray and Anderson say the group is open to anyone with an interest in playing along, no matter their skill level. The atmosphere is very relaxed with little attention paid to mistakes.”
“We just go ‘round robin’ and take turns going around the circle,’ Anderson says. “Those who just like to sing will have plenty of backup. We have some really good musicians.”
As for the future of the group, the founding members say they have no plans to take their show on the road.
Gray said, “We just love to play. Most of us worked all of our lives and we kind of put music on the back burner while we took care of our families and raised our kids. Now it seems all of us have the time to go back to something we really enjoy doing.”
As the notes of classic country and gospel songs wind their way through the halls of the Old School Building, they pull in the occasional curious visitor who has heard rumors about the Thursday Jammers. Both Gray and Anderson say they would welcome anyone who’d like to come in and relax with the music of years gone by.
“It’s something we enjoy doing, and it’s good to have a place where people of like mind to come and get together, fellowship, talk to each other and grow closer as friends through music,” Gray said.