RED VALLEY BARNSTORMERS REUNITE AFTER 31 YEARS, OMHOF to host warmup to reunion at International Festival

While the Red Dirt music genre gained significant exposure in the 1990’s, one of the early Stillwater groups to use the word “Red” became a staple on the Stillwater music scene in the early 1980’s. The progressive bluegrass band’s last performance was at the legendary Stillwater venue, “Willy’s Saloon”, in 1986. After more than 31 years, the band will reunite at Oklahoma’s International Bluegrass Festival in Guthrie on October 7. However, a “warm-up” to the reunion will occur at the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame’s Frisco Depot on Thursday, September 21, sharing the bill with Harley Hamm Jimmy Jamm.
The Red Valley Barnstormers began in Stillwater, Oklahoma circa 1982 with original members Gary Sampson, Tim Terral, Kevin Richmond, Kurt Nielsen, and Buddy Watson. In 1983 they were joined by Jim Blair on banjo. Mark Stephens joined the group in 1984 on mandolin. For the next four years, they worked the Stillwater music scene with appearances in Tulsa and OKC on occasion. During this time, many “honorary” barnstormers performed with the group including Jim Harris, Kenny Cornell, Shelby Eicher, Rick Morton, Cliff Parrett, Dale Pierce, Brett Franzman, Johnny Wright, Tom Skinner, Mike Skinner and even Garth Brooks for a special gig opening for New Grass Revival at Horse Thief Canyon near Stillwater.
“We played a lot of ‘Old and In the Way (a bluegrass group featuring Jerry Garcia, David Grisman, Peter Rowan and John Kahn),’” said band member Jim Paul Blair. “We also did a lot of Hot Rize, New Grass Revival, Leon Russel, Jimmy Hendrix, the Beatles, and Van Morrison.”
The group was popular in Stillwater, playing Willy’s, Stonewall Tavern and other venues regularly, and an occasional festival. They were regulars at the Broken Spoke Ranch near Stillwater, where they occasionally encountered everyone naked while participating in a retreat.
The Red Valley Barnstormers haven’t performed together since 1986, Blair said. Terral, Sampson, and Nielsen are back, and will complete the “Skinner Trifecta” adding Craig Skinner on bass for the reunion. They will join Harley Hamm Jimmy Jamm this Thursday, September 21 at OMHOF for a warmup, but their official reunion will be at 4 p.m. Saturday at the Cottonwood Creek Stage at Guthrie’s Oklahoma’s International Bluegrass Festival on October 7. Admission to the show at OMHOF is $5 at the door. Tickets to the bluegrass festival can be obtained at www.oibf.com.
A pair of three-day tickets to the festival (value $172) will be given away at the OMHOF performance on Thursday!

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