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Monday, May 2, 2016

45 years of making music

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Ozark Mountain Music Makers will celebrate its 45th Anniversary of producing live and local music in Fulton County, starting at 7 p.m. on Oct. 24 and invites music lovers everywhere to join in and make this celebration a great event.

Always a variety of local talent and musical tastes, the majority of the musicians at the Music Makers Barn center around bluegrass music mixed in with a little country.

True Country Band, based out of Fulton and the surrounding area will be featured for two hours during the anniversary celebration, said Johnny Marler, chairman of the board for the Ozark Mountain Music Makers and resident fiddle player.

From the road the Music Makers building is distinguishable by an old red, arrowed flashing sign. The Music Makers Barn is tawny yellow, simple and understated. Once inside the barn, the history and charm of an Ozark experience 45 years in the making can be seen on the walls of the building. The Music Makers Barn is located on Highway 62/412, about a quarter of a mile east of Salem city limits.

Started May 9, 1964, and called the Fulton County Musical, locals with the taste to play and to listen gathered on the lawn surrounding the Courthouse as a weekend recreation. The musical was renamed in September 1964 as Ozark Mountain Music Makers and moved into the courthouse, where the music carried on for nine years, according to a News article from May 1994.

The Music Makers moved to the Fulton County Civic Center on the fairgrounds in 1973. Incorporated as a non-profit in 1975, the permanent home of the Music Makers was established in 1980, about the time that Marler became a board member, he said.

"We've managed to stay at it all these years," Marler said. The Music Makers got going before Mountain View began its traditions of public folk music events.

"It's not just one person that made this work, you know what I mean?" Marler said. "We've always tried to treat people fair. We don't play favorites, and it doesn't matter if you are good or bad. You know what I mean? It's all right. If you are the best in the country... well then that's even better."

After the 9 p.m. drawing, the Music Maker's jam session begins.

"Some of the rock and rollers really like that," Marler said. "They stay out here 'til later. A lot of times there are so many up there it can be crowded, but they just get up there and do whatever their thing is," he said.

Some of the "rock and rollers," as Marler calls them, don't show up until 9 p.m. when the stage is opened up for the jam session. "It's hard to say (what will happen). They do some country, They just do what they want to do. That's when the really good musicians end up on the stage sometimes, when it's the jam session," he said.

"To be around for as long as we have, we've had to be doing something right," said Othela Marler, Johnny Marler's wife and long time devotee of the Music Maker concession stand.

"There have been so many people that try to do what we've done and not many have been successful," Johnny Marler said. Yet despite the change in the times and changes in local music tastes, the Music Makers remain strong, always leaving the door open for whoever walks in it.

"We've been doing better here lately," Marler said. "I'd say we've anywhere from 75 to 100 each Saturday on the average. If we get a guest band in we'll let them play an hour." Now that local blue grass/country jam sessions have popped up all across the area -- Mammoth Spring, Hardy, Horseshoe Bend to name a few -- there are more choices for locals.

But for the Marlers and the Music Makers, nothing has changed. They always have been and always will be in it for the music.

"I'm the only fiddle player out here; I'm a fixture of this place. I sit up there for most bands. They ask me to," Marler said.

The community is welcomed to attend the 45th anniversary of the Music Makers.



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