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Sitting right in the middle of the country, with music from the rest of the USA swirling through it from all sides, Oklahoma has understandably been the source of several influential pop-music movements. Invariably, those styles can be traced not just to a city, but to a specific place within that city – as well as to an act that sums up what it’s all about.
You can begin in the 1920s with the Oklahoma City Blue Devils, who’d become a huge force in the creation of Kansas City jazz, coming out of the downtown OKC area known as Deep Deuce. Not long afterwards, Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys popularized the music now known as western swing from the Cain’s Ballroom in Tulsa; several decades later that same town’s Leon Russell turned a church into a studio, introducing the Tulsa Sound to the whole doggone rock ‘n’ roll world.
Like the others, Red Dirt music grew up in a specific place in a specific town. The town is Stillwater, home of Oklahoma State University. The place was a two-story, five-bedroom, funky old place called the Farm -- for two decades the epicenter of what would come to be called the Red Dirt scene.
The act that represents Red Dirt? You couldn’t do any better than the Red Dirt Rangers, who’ve been carrying the banner for Red Dirt music since the late 1980s. And years before the band existed, Ben Han, John Cooper, and Brad Piccolo became an integral part of the Farm’s musical brotherhood, trading songs and licks with the likes of Jimmy LaFave, Tom Skinner, and Bob Childers – and, later, with such now white-hot acts as Cross Canadian Ragweed, Jason Boland and the Stragglers and Stoney LaRue.