NMF 2018
Longtime sideman Terry "Buffalo" Ware, right, joins John Cooper and Brad Piccolo of the Red Dirt Rangers. (Michael Duncan)

The downtown streets and alleys of Norman were filled with music until late Saturday night, when the outdoor-stage performances came to a close and audiences crowded local bars to soak up the afterglow of the 2018 Norman Music Festival.

NMF 2018 included more than 300 bands – mostly Oklahoma artists – playing during the three-day festival. The festival contributes to making Norman what city business leaders and cultural groups have billed it as: Oklahoma’s “Festival City.”

The annual event provides a special opportunity for local musicians to show their work. It also allows some long-time guitar players to sit in with multiple bands as a “sideman.”

Ware: ‘I get to play with a lot of bands’

Terry Ware was busy backing up musicians during Norman Music Festival. (Michael Duncan)

Terry “Buffalo” Ware, once a rock-and-roll but now Americana/folk guitar picker (and an icon among Oklahoma musicians), said the Norman Music Festival provides an opportunity for him and others who provide backup guitar to have a full day of playing.


Female-fronted acts represented well at NMF 2018 by Michael Duncan

“I get to play with a lot of bands,” Ware said, on his way Saturday afternoon to jam with the Red Dirt Rangers, his fourth appearance during the festival (and a fifth set late Saturday night with fellow Norman singer-songwriter Gregg Standridge).

Ware is an old hand as a sideman. He is the principal back-up guitarist on Grammy-nominated John Fullbright’s albums. Ware’s history also includes playing with Jimmy LaFave and Ray Wylie Hubbard.

Although the Norman Music Festival is nice for Ware – who doesn’t have to leave his hometown to perform – he said it is a bigger plus for those new to the music scene.

“Most of all the festival provides a venue to let people (with less experience) get their first chance out and play to the public,” he said.