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Keying in On Country Craftsmen/Musicians

Small towns in Arkansas contain a wealth of uncovered talent in the visual arts and the performing Arts. The way most of this talent is discovered and recognized is through the old timey form of ‘musicales’ which is merely when and wherever a group of musicians gather and combine their skills, giving the artists a chance to perform and guests an opportunity to be entertained musically. Traditionally, these Friday/or Saturday night gatherings attract locals and other folks from far and near who yearn for “the good old days”.

A couple of excellent examples artists are Raymond Forst and David Street who live in Magazine, Arkansas.

On Saturday night, Raymond and David are constants who perform at the “Magazine Opry” which is held in the Perry Community Center. This showplace has offered many musicians their opportunity to sing and play country and Gospel styles of music with a smidgen of “Country Rock” thrown in.

Raymond and David both are also very good woodcrafters and each has built several instruments.

Raymond has built steel guitars and standard and electric guitars. He said those were mostly built from broken or incomplete instrument found for sale in some cases in yard sales and auctions. Raymond has re-constructed and repaired several violins (fiddles) and he has gathered a number of “store-bought” instruments over the years as well. He started playing music around home as a child along with several other family members who played music. Many of his extended family play music together still today. One of Raymond’s early band members was Will Schmitz. Will was first learning music also and had even built his own first fiddle from very original material; namely a tree. There are a lot of good stories lingering around from that period of time.

At his age of 79 years, playing and singing music remains an important part of Raymond’s life.

David Street’s musical formation was initiated with his introduction to friends through an association with one of his cousins. As none of his immediate family folk were musicians, David relied primarily on listening to music on his radio and ultimately taught himself to find and play the sounds he heard played there David and Raymond both had bought their first new guitar at Wiggins ‘Hardware in Paris although at different times and they can both recall the magic of that fine store where one might also buy new guitar strings. David’s ensuing years led him to play in many kinds of venues and as he and Raymond recalled, they both had played in a few less desirable places, but not for very long after they learned to avoid the places they did not enjoy being associated with. Nowadays, David treasures the time he spends playing and singing in his church.

David Street is a master woodcraftsman and has many things to prove that He has several regular guitars a banjo and a bass guitar all designed to fit his “left-handed” picking style. The laminate work on these instruments are true works of art and they are played very well by David himself. He has made a few furniture items and several new or reworked gunstocks. David has carved a number of decorative pieces on his instrument and he created by his carving talent a real-sized Indian Chief’s head out of one of the “exotic” wood materials he uses so well in his crafts. Instruments handmade by David include three pedal steel guitars, two lap steel guitars and several electric guitars. Each one is unique, pretty and useful.

The Magazine Opry is held each Saturday night 6:00 to 9:30 and an open invitation is offered to everyone interested in the “good old days’ type of entertainment. Admission is free with a bucket available to catch donations.

Emcee and hostess is a lady with lovely singing voice, Dorothy Baker. The youngest regular performer is 4-year-old Zachary Terry

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