MINERAL WELLS - Despite a morning downpour with thunder and lightning, the fifth annual Gathering at Sweet Creek continued as planned Saturday in Mineral Wells.
The three-day festival celebrating old-time and Appalachian music kicked off Friday and concludes today on Sugar Camp Road in Mineral Wells.
Steve Parker, one of the organizers and host of the event in his backyard, said the storm did not stop the old-time music or the musicians.
Photo by Jeffrey Saulton
Members of the Samples Brothers Band get together for a jam session Saturday during the fifth annual Gathering at Sweet Creek. From left are John Preston, Max Samples, David O’Dell and Grayson Samples.
"We all kept dry under the tent and we kept playing," he said Saturday afternoon. "We played right through it."
Five years ago the Gathering began as a showcase for old-time music after the Stonewall Jackson Heritage Jubilee at Jackson's Mill changed formats and moved away from traditional arts and craft.
Parker's father, Kenney Parker, who passed away this past year, was on the board of directors at the heritage festival, so when the festival changed and dropped the music after 35 years, he decided to keep that part going elsewhere.
Parker said the musicians continue to perform at the Gathering, which is growing in reputation across the state. Friday night's crowd was the best first night he has seen.
"Friday was, I think, the biggest crowd we've had for a Friday night," he said. "I don't how to estimate a crowd but it was full under the tent. This year we have 61 musicians who are invited to come."
Parker said this year's program featured one the youngest performers at the Gathering.
"Margaret Graham, a 17-year-old high school junior from Richmond, Va., came with Jack Abdeel," he said. "She is a fine fiddler. She was classically trained for 12 years and now she is playing this old-time music."
Parker said getting younger people like Graham involved in the music is one reason to keep the Gathering going.
"It's good to get the young people involved," he said. "We've got to get them involved to keep these traditions alive."
Graham learned to play at a young age through the Suzuki method, an approach to musical education created by Shin'ichi Suzuki, a Japanese violinist. Graham said she started to play music with Abdeel, a long-time friend of the family.
"I've been friends with Jack since forever, he's known me since I was born," she said. "I started out with classical music, but I've been playing the old-time music. I found it is fun and I like it more than classical."
Graham said the Suzuki method teaches music by ear, and the switch from classical to old-time music was not a challenge. Graham has not decided on what she wants to do after high school but she said she has ruled out studying music.
"I would like to keep it up to play with friends and go to festivals," she said. "I want to have fun with it."