Stillwater News Press

Arts & Entertainment

May 8, 2014

Songwriters Showcase blows into Cimarron Valley

STILLWATER, Okla. — “Flapping My Wings” by Wil Maring tells the story of starting a new adventure in life and speaks to the heart of the Williams family as their children grow up and graduate from college.

Jeff and Debbie Williams are bringing the songwriter to Stillwater for some private family celebrations this weekend but the community can hear Maring, along with mandolin champion Forrest O’Connor, play Thursday night at the Cimarron Valley Songwriters Showcase in the Oklahoma Territorial Plaza in Perkins.

“Bring a dish or just come hungry for the potluck dinner at 6:30 p.m. The show starts at 7 p.m,” said host Monica Taylor Johnson. “Admission is $10 at the door.”

Held in a renovated Methodist church house in which the worshipping began in the late 1800s, the Songwriter Showcase is intimate with an up-close musical experience where the personalities of the artists fill the Old Church Center.  

Taylor takes the time to interview the featured songsters before the show starts, giving the audience a rare peek behind the musical curtain and setting up a night during which everyone gets a heaping helping of some amazing words and tones after communal dining.

Debbie Williams, Oklahoma WONDERtorium programs coordinator, said  Maring’s songs “just speak to us in a lot of different ways.”  

Williams said she identifies with the lyrics because they tell wonderful stories. She and her husband, Jeff, a professor in Oklahoma State University’s School of Architecture, first heard Wil Maring at the Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield, Kan., about five years ago. They have been fans ever since and are excited she has teamed up with O’Connor for this tour through Oklahoma and Missouri.

“He’s a young guy starting out and has won mandolin championships,” Jeff Williams said. “His father is one of the top fiddle players in the country.”

O’Connor studied music at Harvard and was involved in the Boston music scene after graduating. He returned to Nashville to continue recording and performing.

Maring has won the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest at Merlefest and appeared on the Grand Ole Opry with her original music. With a clear, airy, vocal style, she straddles the fence between folk, bluegrass and country music. Based out of southern Illinois, as a painter she is fond of Oklahoma’s colorful landscape of red dirt and wide open skies which is very different from her home. She is looking forward to coming back to Oklahoma and encourages people to not put her music “in a drawer classifying us as blue grass or folk.”

“We have a little bit of all musical genres.” she said. “Be prepared to hear good acoustic music with mandolin and guitar.”

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