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Pickers keep up with passion for music

FLOYD — David Nash insists that there’s a different story behind every member of the Floyd Backporch Pickers.

The evidence supports him. There’s the former business owner that admits he’s still a little too shy to talk to everyone, the 60-year-old man who just took up an instrument in December and the people who would gladly travel 80 miles each way for a few hours of music.

There’s a story for each of them, the other members and for Nash himself. Most of all, the fourth-generation Floyd resident just refers to the group as people who love music.

“It’s just pickers,” Nash said. “We love music and we love playing and it’s a chance for all of us to get together. It just gives us a place to do what we love.”

The group meets in varying numbers on the first and third Sundays of each month, with the exception of holidays, at the Floyd Community Center. Sunday’s gathering had about eight members, but Nash said the turnout has been as high as 27 on some nights during the group’s two-plus years of existence.

The only requirements of the club, Nash said, are to show up and have a love for music. The group arranges itself in a semicircle and members take turns on picking a song to play, mostly consisting of country, gospel and bluegrass.

The official meeting time is 2 p.m. And by 2 p.m., some mean 2:15 p.m. And by 2:15 p.m., some mean 3 p.m.

The later you arrive, Nash explains, the further behind you fall on songs. When Don Pruitt of Tucumcari showed up at about 3 p.m., the members joked that he would have to pick the next 11 songs to catch up with the rest of the group.

On that note, Nash told a story of a younger player who one arrived late and was told to pick 11 songs in a row. The man’s response, Nash said with a laugh, was to drop his head and admit that he only knew three songs.

The joking nature and a laissez-faire attitude make the hours fly be even faster.

“We mess up and pick up and go again,” Nash said. “Who cares? We’re just having fun.”

Some members bring more than one instrument, some bring their children and some come just to listen.

Ray Cochrain said he had been to about three of the gatherings, as he tried to finish a cigarette outside before a light rain arrived at Floyd. Cochrain said he has generally kept to himself after selling Ray’s Lube Center seven years ago, but the Back Porch Pickers do offer a small outlet.

“By nature, I’m a really shy guy,” Cochrain said. “I’m still very shy in front of these people. I just do it for the fun of it. I love music.”

He’s not the only one. Several of the members also make appearances at the Floyd Country Jamboree in late March, but the organizations are not affiliated with each other.

Eastern New Mexico bluegrass association

“These things are a little more fun,” said Pruitt, who is a member of the Eastern New Mexico Bluegrass Association. “You have to work hard to get ready for the jamboree. Here, you just have fun.”

Nash said he wants the organization to be a learning tool for younger musicians, who could quickly lose interest in an instrument without a group of people to help them along the way. He pointed to Don Essary, a man in his early 60s who just started playing the violin in December. Essary was playing with the group, and any mistakes he was making were covered up by the rest of the group.

“He doesn’t know (how), but he’s playing that song,” Nash said, “and that’s how we make it work.”