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One of a Kind Musician, One of a Kind Venue: Randy Crouch Goes to Church for Birthday Party


All-STAR BAND: From left, Jesse Aycock, David Teegarden Jr., Monica Taylor, Dustin Pittsley, Randy Crouch, Donnie Wood and Mark Lyon close the show with “Peace on Earth,” from Crouch’s 2014 album, No Good Reason.



There’s only one Randy Crouch, and he’s ours.
You hear that, Texas? He came here of his own free will, and we’re not giving him back.

I recently attended Crouch’s birthday celebration thinking that the occasion would be a good springboard to launch into some of the legendary folklore surrounding the man Brad Piccolo of the Red Dirt Rangers dubbed “the original psychedelic grunge hillbilly fiddle player from outer space.”

However, after the hour and 20 minute drive to the party/concert in Perkins, Oklahoma, I arrived to find that Crouch was just one of the musical treasures in store for the evening. The venue hosting the party, a 126-year-old church building, is, like the evening’s guest of honor, deeply rooted in Red Dirt music.

Known simply as the Old Church Center, the former Methodist Episcopal church that held services for nearly 100 years is now the home of the Cimarron Breeze Concerts.

Started in 2015, the Cimarron Breeze Concerts are small, intimate affairs that showcase music and foster community. All shows are BYOB and most start with a potluck dinner. After dinner, an audience of roughly 50 people fill the pews to enjoy some of the best musicians around. There’s no drunken chatter, no one in front of you scrolling through their phone; this is all about music.

Maybe it’s that focus on music that brings such good acts to Perkins. Maybe it’s the potluck dinner, the country air, the fact that Tom Skinner’s family Bible resides there, but something is drawing a steady stream of top-notch musicians to the Old Church.

My guess is that it’s a combination of many factors, not the least of which is Monica Taylor. Also known as the Cimarron Songbird – a nickname given to her by Jimmy LaFave and Bob Childers – Taylor serves as host for all the Cimarron Breeze Concerts.

A Perkins native and a Red Dirt veteran from the days at the Farm outside Stillwater, Taylor is part of a very large and tightly-knit community of musicians.

“Everybody who comes to play these shows, and we’ve had about 145 artists and musicians come here,” explains Taylor, “I know them. Almost all of them are friends.”

Fortunately for us, Taylor, a wonderful musician in her own right, has some very talented friends whom she often joins on stage.

For example, let’s get back to Crouch’s birthday. On stage, playing to roughly 50 people, was an all-star band made up of Randy Crouch, Dustin Pittsley, Jesse Aycock, Mark Lyon, Donnie Wood, David Teegarden Jr., and, occasionally Taylor. You will not find a better audience-musician ratio anywhere.

That intimate setting is what makes the Cimarron Breeze Concerts special. The line separating musician from fan becomes faint, blurred as we break bread together, sing happy birthday to a friend together, go to church together.

“This church has been filled with the spirit of good people and amazing music,” says Taylor. “Not just the musicians but the people who come to listen.”

Or, to put it in Randy Crouch’s words, “We’re all in the same band. The rest is bull––.”

There are some great shows coming to the Old Church this spring, including Parker Millsap, Chuck Dunlap (more on him shortly) and Don White. For a complete list of upcoming shows, visit cimarronbreeze.com.

As for Randy Crouch, the world’s greatest Rock & Roll fiddler has some shows coming up as well, including April 29 at Hunt Club and May 12 at Soul City. For all upcoming gigs, check out randycrouch.com.

As for the legendary folklore surrounding Crouch, that will have to wait for another column. I’ve been working on one called, “Tales from Randyland,” but I’ve encountered a paradox in which remembering enough to write about Randyland means never truly being in Randyland. The legend continues…

Speaking of legends, let’s talk about the May 9 Cimmaron Breeze Concert featuring Randy’s good friend Chuck Dunlap. I’ve tried to explain Red Dirt music as a combination of Country, Rock, Bluegrass, Gospel, Folk, etc., but the best way to understand Red Dirt music is to listen to Chuck Dunlap for five minutes. I don’t have enough space left in this column to get into just how influential Dunlap is, but let’s just say if Bob Childers is Godfather of Red Dirt music, Chuck Dunlap might be the actual father. Or at least the cool uncle.

If not for Dunlap, Bob Childers may have never settled in Stillwater, Tom Skinner may have pursued baseball, and Randy Crouch may have never flown his space ship here. The May 9 show is the last of several that he’s playing in the area to promote his new album Full Circle, which is outstanding. Visit chuckdunlapmusic.com for the album and a full list of shows.

I hope you can make it to the Old Church Center to experience one of the Cimarron Breeze Concerts in the near future. But, whether you find yourself in Perkins or closer to home, remember: keep searching, keep listening.

Updated 04-23-2018

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