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Images: Randy Buckner on Studio Live

For Randy Buckner, the sounds of Merle Travis’ guitar picking would fill his grandparents’ home on North Grant Avenue, where he spent the week from time to time when he was a young child. These records were a pivotal point for Buckner’s music. At 9, he picked up his first guitar. By the time he was 15, he had the opportunity to join Travis onstage.

Buckner has taken the art of thumbpicking the guitar and mastered several different styles. In the KSMU studio, he showed hosts Randy Stewart and Jess Balisle the difference between Merle Travis and Chet Atkins styles. Buckner is a natural educator, teaching music lessons on just about anything with strings at Hoover Music six days a week. He also participates in workshops and contests at the Merle Travis Thumbpicking Weekend in Mountain View, Arkansas.  

In 2017, Buckner released this album Thumbin’ The Strings. He played several songs from it during the radio show. For Studio Live Social Hour, Buckner was joined by the other two members of his band 83 Skidoo, Donnie Kraft and Kristi Merideth. They strayed from their usual jazz-swing takes on 80s classics and focused on old Western swing and other classics.

Jessica Gray Balisle, a Springfield native, grew up listening to KSMU. When she's not wrangling operations and compliance issues, she co-hosts live music show Studio Live and produces arts and culture stories. Jessica plays bass in local band the Hook Knives. She and her husband Todd live with their two cats, Ellie and Jean-Ralphio, and way too many house plants.
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