Claremore Daily Progress

Community News

February 28, 2013

A Bar Bunkhouse featured at fundraiser

CLAREMORE — Four young northeastern Oklahoma men have found a niche performing live western swing music throughout the state and surrounding areas. 

Known as the A Bar Bunkhouse Band, the group will entertain the audience during “A Celebration of Helping Others: Dancing with the Stars of Rogers County.”  
Scheduled for 7 p.m. on March 9 at the Robson Performing Arts Center in Claremore, the lively music performed by A Bar Bunkhouse Band will have the audience wanting to jump up and dance to the classic western swing tunes. All four band members are accomplished fiddle players but each has his own way on the stage with Merrit Armitage playing the guitar and singing vocals. Brother Turner Armitage joins him in singing the rousing tunes made popular by bands like Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys. Joining the two brothers on stage are cousin Landon Morgan, whose upright bass, and Jake Duncan, fiddle player, round out the musical group’s foot-stomping sound.
Although Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys have had the biggest influence on the band’s style, Merrit also cites Django Reinhardt, a pioneering European jazz guitarist and composer, as another strong impact on their style of music. 
“Django’s music has been described as a gypsy style swing,” Merrit says. “We try to draw from the style of the Big Band era but we don’t have a full orchestra. We have what people around here call a ranch band, playing in a smaller setting. It’s feel good music,” he adds.
“We play a wide variety of songs, from show tunes that feature the fiddle to crowd pleasers like Folsom Prison Blues with a breakdown of the Orange Blossom Special,” he says. “We also play everything from Ida Red to House of the Rising Sun.”
Three of the band members-Merrit, Turner and Landon-took fiddle lessons from local teacher, Cindy Jenkins. The three crossed paths with Jake while performing with the group Oklahoma Stomp, a Western Swing youth group organized by Shelby Eicher in 2005. Eventually, the youth group, which had played as part of the “Music across America” celebration at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., broke off into smaller bands.

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