Cedar Ridge, recognized as one of Oklahoma’s top bluegrass bands, is an all acoustic ensemble that has been playing together since March, 1999. From that time the band has made quite a reputation in the local and state Bluegrass scene for its “hard drivin’, head turnin’” sound. The group takes pride in its close vocal harmonies, tight instrumentation and purism of the genre.
Audiences are rapidly caught up in the fun when Cedar Ridge puts forth the smooth sounds of traditional, gospel and original material. A growing number of hard-core bluegrassers and mainstream listeners are placing this band high on their list of favorite artists. The group’s reputation for excellent execution, refreshing good humor and love of the music has spread over a four state area. Cedar Ridge has performed at several festivals in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Colorado and Texas. In addition to the festivals, they have made several appearances at local churches and special events and private gatherings.
The leader of Oklahoma’s own Cedar Ridge is Gary Wilson. Born in California, Gary moved to McAlister, OK in 1970. He took up the banjo in 1971, and by 1975 he had won the Oklahoma State Banjo Picking Championship. He has been a member of several different bands over the years, but until Cedar Ridge, had never formed a band of his own. Gary plays banjo and guitar, sings tenor and lead vocals and has written several songs for the band. He now makes Shawnee, OK his home.
Carla Cooper became interested in bluegrass in 1974 and began taking mandolin lesions Jody Adams who was the Oklahoma State Mandolin Champion. Carla also displays her vocal skills by singing lead and providing tenor vocals on several of “Cedar Ridges” arrangements. Carla is a native Oklahoman and has lived in the Choctaw, Newalla area all her life.
Jimmy Bryson began taking banjo lesions from his cousin Don Thomas when he was a child. He returned to bluegrass music a few years ago and played bass for Thomas’s band the “Arbuckles.” Jimmy plays guitar for “Cedar Ridge” and sings lead and tenor vocals. Like the other band members Jimmy loves the music and has been known to continue jammin’ all night long. Jimmy grew up in Stroud, Oklahoma and now lives in the Stillwater, Oklahoma area.
A unique aspect of Cedar Ridge is that it also has two brothers in the band: dobro player Mike Reeves and bass player Jeff Reeves. Mike was raised in Meeker, OK and continues to live in the Meeker area. He became interested in bluegrass in 1984 and liked the sound of the dobro and the contribution the instrument made to the overall sound of the bluegrass band. In 1991, he purchased his first “hounddog” and taught himself to play. Mike sharpened his skills by jamming at local club shows and festivals, and it was there he met Gary Wilson. Mike writes some songs for the group and sings lead and baritone vocals. Jeff Reeves first became interested in bluegrass music only to appease his brother. Jeff would play rhythm guitar for Mike as he learned to play the dobro. As time went on, Jeff truly began to love the style. In early 1999, he picked up a bass and decided that was his instrument. Like his brother, he met Gary at local jam sessions and was also asked to be apart of Cedar Ridge. Jeff is the emcee for the group and when not telling really bad jokes, he is often ribbing the other band members as well as the audience. He sings lead and baritone vocals. He is originally from Meeker but now calls Guthrie, OK home.