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 “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.