Big ´True Grit' finale on April 11 includes Western music, stories and more

les gilliam(STILLWATER, OKLA. / March 30, 2015) –– “One Book, One Community: Stillwater Reads “True Grit” slowly winds its way to a close with its big finale Saturday, April 11, from 7-9 p.m. at the Stillwater Community Center. “An Evening with the Oklahoma Balladeer” features Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame singer/songwriter Les Gilliam and his Silver Lake Band. The free concert features Western music and the fascinating stories behind the songs and their writers.

“We wanted to end this year’s reading event with a popular act that could evoke the feel of riding along the Western trails taken by Rooster and Mattie,” said Lynda Reynolds, Stillwater Public Library director. “Les has not only won numerous awards for his Western music, but he is also a consummate showman who can keep his audiences enthralled and amused with the stories he tells throughout his show.”

Much of Gilliam’s Western inspiration came from knowing one of Western music’s legends. The musician grew up in Gene Autry, Oklahoma, next door to the famous singer and actor of the same name.

“Gene Autry owned a ranch next to our place,” said Gilliam. “Meeting Mr. Autry and enjoying his movies and radio show certainly created my love for Western music.”

Gilliam’s musical aptitude and love of the Western genre led to his release of 18 albums, as well as appearances across the globe. Some of his touring standouts include playing at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., The International Country Music Festival in Vienna, Austria and numerous returns to Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri.

Along the way, Gilliam picked up award after award for his music. In 1998, the Oklahoma legislature named him the official “Balladeer” of the state. In 2005, he received the most prestigious award in Western Music, the “Wrangler Award” from the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City.  The following year, Gilliam received the Oklahoma Governor’s Arts Award for his many years of entertaining Oklahomans and keeping western music alive. Then, in 2010, Gilliam won the Academy of Western Artists award for Western Swing Song of the Year for his composition and recording of “Oklahoma 1955.”

Gilliam has also lent his Western music expertise to several tomes on the subject. Gilliam was a contributor to the recent book on cowboy music “Singing in the Saddle,” written by his friend, Ranger Doug of Riders in the Sky. He was also a contributor to the newly published official biography of Gene Autry, “Public Cowboy # 1.”

But Gilliam is not the only big name in his act. Gilliam’s Silver Lake Band includes Kansas Steel Guitar Hall of Famer Curt Shoemaker, Ponca City native and longtime Kay Country favorite Don Long on drums, country fiddler and vocalist Jerald Ritter, and the “Pride of Winfield,” Kenny Glasgow on bass.  

The “True Grit” finale is open to everyone, including surrounding towns, and a ticket is not required. Refreshments will be served at the intermission, courtesy of the Friends of the Stillwater Public Library. An ASL interpreter will be present.

A few days before the Gilliam concert, on Tuesday, April 7, Ryan Spring from the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma Historic Preservation Department will present “Choctaw Light Horsemen and Culture.” Spring will discuss the hard fighting horsemen who were charged with protecting their people and lands in Indian Territory. The program takes place at 4 p.m. at the OSU Library, and then repeats at 7 p.m. at Stillwater Public Library. The program is co-sponsored by the OSU Native American Student Association.

Before the “True Grit” series officially closes, the library will hold one more event on Monday, April 13 at 7 p.m. Leslie Higgins of the U.S. Marshal Museum in Ft. Smith presents “We Were There: U.S. Marshals Past and Present.” Higgins will discuss the history behind the major events of the U.S. Marshals Service in the late 19th century in Indian Territory and Fort Smith.

Both historic presentations are free and open to the public. An ASL interpreter will be available at the Stillwater Public Library programs.

For more info about the True Grit series or the Les Gilliam concert, visit the library’s webpage at or call (405) 372-3633.

“One Book, One Community: Stillwater Reads True Grit” is a community reading series sponsored by the Library, OSU Library and the Sheerar Museum. It is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. 

The Stillwater Public Library is located at 1107 S. Duck St. (the corner of Duck and 12th Ave.) and the Stillwater Community Center is located at 315 W 8th Ave (the corner of 8th and Duck).