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Curtain closes on monthly country, bluegrass pickings, but organizers say ‘thank you’


MARBLE FALLS — For almost a decade, Jane Markley and her friends gathered at different locations across the Highland Lakes to celebrate bluegrass and country music with a live “pickin’.”

For the past five years, Markley hosted the event at the Boys & Girls Club of the Highland Lakes, but at 84, she decided it’s not longer feasible to keep producing the monthly event.”It’s been a wonderful time,” she said. “But, I just can’t do it anymore. I really hope somebody else will step in and keep it going. I just really want to thank all the musicians who came and the people who came and listened.”

Pickin’ typically refers to the musicians performing bluegrass or country music live with guitars, banjoes, mandolins, dulcimers and fiddles. It’s an informal performance, in many cases, with folks often gathering on friends’ porches and restaurant patios or at any place they can find.

Markley said the event started in a very informal manner.

“We all started playing together at somebody’s house,” she said. “It would move around here and there. We would gather up in Oatmeal many times, but, at one point, it grew to a point it just became hard to hold in a somebody’s home.”

So, Markley began scouting out places that musicians could gather on a regular basis.

“I said, ‘If I find you a place in Marble Falls, would y’all come?’ And they all said, ‘Yes’,” she said.

The pickin’ eventually landed at the Boys & Girls Club of the Highland Lakes in 2008. It remained there until the last monthly performance in January. With the connection to the club, Markley also parlayed her husband’s association with Exxon into some fundraising for the youth facility.

An Exxon foundation, she said, makes donations to nonprofits with which retired employees are associated.

“So, along with the wonderful music, we helped out the Boys & Girls Club,” she said.

Along with the musicians who took the stage, Markley said she wanted to thank Betty Boring and Millie Watkins, who co-hosted the monthly programs with her and helped in the kitchen.

“We will miss all the loyal fans who came to listen and, especially, Exxon for all the many grants which bought sound equipment and 12 guitars for the (Boys & Girls Club),” Markley said.