NSU's Downtown Country welcomes two new musicians

Tahlequah, Okla. — Downtown Country, part of Northeastern State University’s Stars in the Summer series, is renowned in the region for its talented performers and musicians.

This season Douglas Thompson and Terry Day join veterans Kelli Doolen Farmer, Shannon Farmer, Hank Nichols and Blake Turner in the Downtown Country band.

Though new to the DC stage, Thompson and Day bring impressive musical pedigrees. Thompson is a three-time Oklahoma state fiddle champion and Day has played steel guitar for more than 30 years. Both say joining the DC band happened much by chance.

“I just saw a flyer on a show window in downtown Tahlequah asking musicians to try out for Downtown Country,” Thompson said. “I hadn’t played in a band for a while and it sounded like fun. I figured at the very least I could have fun trying out.”

A friend recommended to Day that he audition, but he wasn’t sure what to expect.

“I thought, like a lot of bands, there would be players who were talented and mediocre,” he said. “But everyone in the Downtown Country band is really good. Shannon worked out of Nashville for several years, Hank is a longtime music and band teacher and Blake and Douglas are two young people just full of talent.”

From Rose, Thompson was Oklahoma fiddle champion in 2007, 2009 and 2010; Arkansas champion in 2010 and Kansas champion in 2009. At 13, he was the youngest winner of the Branson Fiddle Festival and a finalist in the Grandmasters Fiddle Championship in 2005 in Nashville. He has performed with Asleep at the Wheel, the Oak Ridge Boys and the Texas Playboys and at venues such as the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., and at Cain’s Ballroom’s annual Boots and Bowties event benefiting families of cancer victims. Now 18 and having taken several dual credit courses, Thompson will be a sophomore at NSU this fall. He is a member of the Pre-Professional Health Club and wants to be an anesthesiologist.

Asked whether playing fiddle came naturally or required rigorous study, Thompson said it was “a bit of both.”

“I started on the piano, but I saw a Branson show, my piano teacher quit and my brother got me started on the fiddle,” he said. “I have worked really hard at the fiddle over the last nine years, but it definitely makes a lot of sense in my head. It’s about the only thing that makes so much sense – that and chemistry.”

Day, from Inola, is a graduate of the University of Tulsa and the Hank Thompson School of Country Music, where he taught for four years. Day is the owner of Day Sound Studio in Inola. He is known as the ‘Steelman’ to friends and fans. He has performed with musicians such as Hank Thompson, Reba McEntire, Leon McAuliff, Billy Parker and Carrie Underwood.

In March, Day traveled on a mission trip to the Republic of Malawi in southeast Africa.

“In my mind Malawi sounded like a tropical Pacific island, but I was educated quickly,” he said. “We traveled to villages and shared the gospel with anyone who wished to visit with us. Fortunately I brought my guitar. The people sang beautifully and played drums, but other instruments were rare. They were interested in my playing the guitar. Eventually I was able to pick up some of the melodies they were singing and accompany. I really had a wonderful time.”

Thompson said the talent of the band makes participating in Downtown Country performances a joy.

“I’ve played in a lot of bands, and this is one of the best I’ve played for,” he said. “I enjoy getting to be part of such a talented group, and we get to back up such a great bunch of singers.”

Day said the DC production gives young talent a venue in which to flourish.

“What I love most about Downtown Country is working with the students,” he said. “I played a lot of beer joints when I was younger. This is a great place for these young people to learn their craft and showcase their talents.”

The Sequoyah Institute and the College of Liberal Arts at NSU present the Stars in the Summer series. Performances run through August 6 with shows every Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and a Saturday matinee at 2 p.m.

A Grande Ole Celebration is performed Fridays and as the Saturday matinee. This is Country Music! is presented on Thursday and Saturday evenings. Shows are at the University Playhouse at 300 N. Muskogee Ave. in Tahlequah.

Also included in the Stars in the Summer series are shows by The River City Players. The RCP venue is the Shawnee Street Theatre at 124 W. Shawnee St. in Tahlequah. River City Classic: Hits of the ’50s and ’60s is put on Fridays and Saturday afternoons. River City Retro: Hits of the ’70s and ’80s is performed Thursday and Saturday evenings.

Tickets are on sale for Stars in the Summer. Prices are adults $12, NSU alumni and employees $10, seniors 60-over and groups of 12 or more $8, students and children $6. To reserve tickets call (918) 458-2075. For more information visit the Sequoyah Institute.

Published: 7/6/2011 10:38:34 AM

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