Stillwater News Press

Arts & Entertainment

April 13, 2012

The Farm at Stillwater brings back memories for Red Dirt musicians

STILLWATER, Okla. — Sometimes the right setting can evoke memories. Such was the case for musicians who visited The Farm west of Stillwater Thursday evening.

John Cooper of The Red Dirt Rangers recalled first moving out to the property in 1979 with friend Danny Pierce.

"For two college kids to rent a five-bedroom farmhouse with 149 acres and outbuildings was kind of a dream come true," Cooper said.

Over the next 20 years, The Farm became a gathering spot for Red Dirt musicians. Musicians would visit and sometimes pay rent to stay in the home. Among those musicians was legendary songwriter Bob Childers.

"Memories of Bob just overwhelm this place," said artist Chuck Dunlap.

The 58-year-old Dunlap said he was introduced to The Farm before he left Oklahoma in 1979. He said all the pickers went there. Dunlap recalled memories of songs played beside a fire at three in the morning by people whose talents were unknown at the time. Many songs were constructed on this site, he said.

While the farmhouse burned in 2003, a vital part of the property still remains - the Gypsy Cafe. Childers was responsible for remodeling the garage and rebranding it.

"I'm glad something survived and if anything was going to survive I'd probably rather it be the cafe than the house because that's where everybody gathered," said Dunlap.

Artist Mike McClure remembered how he became acquainted with The Farm. McClure had become a member of The Great Divide when he moved to Stillwater. One day, he came home to discover Childers on his front porch. The two struck up a conversation and Childers invited him to The Farm. One of McClure's memories of the historic site was arriving on the property after seeing smoke. He saw Childers going through what was left of his belongings. The trailer he lived in had caught fire, destroying everything. McClure asked him what had happened.

"And he said, 'Oh, God said it's time to move,'" McClure recalled. "Just his attitude about life was really cool for a younger person."

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