Eddie Sanders - XTREME
By Kara Martinez Bachman
Singer, musician, songwriter, and event promoter Eddie Sanders has always had bluegrass festivals as a big part of his life. He was born and raised in southeastern Oklahoma, where his family started hosting the notable Sanders Family Bluegrass Festival in 1976.
“Bluegrass music has always been a part of my life,” Sanders said. “We ran that festival for over 30 years. Being a part of such a large festival gave me the opportunity for a front row seat and a backstage pass to hang out around the legends of our music.”
“As a child, I had the opportunity to perform on stage with greats like Bill Monroe himself,” Sanders said. “The list of performers we had at the festival is long and includes so many great artists and musicians. Having been so involved with bluegrass music, I have always felt like the music, the songs, and the performers were a part of me and my family, so to speak.”
Now, he’s parlayed all that experience into new events, one of which is now about to happen for its second year: Xtreme Bluegrass.
“When I had the opportunity to start another festival here in Oklahoma, it was an easy decision for me to go all in,” he said. “We need more bluegrass festivals, especially here in this part of the U.S. Hopefully, we can take our Xtreme Bluegrass to ‘xtreme’ new heights.”
The second annual Xtreme Bluegrass Music Festival will take place in Eufaula, Oklahoma, on September 22, 23, and 24. It will feature over a dozen well-known acts, including Sideline, Appalachian Road Show, and Tina Adair.
“This year, we have added an additional day, making it a three-day event,” Sanders said. “Holding true to our name Xtreme Bluegrass, we have included bands ranging from those with the most traditional sounds around to those with beats and melodies of what some may call a more progressive style. We will also have gospel and old-time country music performed with a bluegrass flair. The list of performers we have scheduled for this year includes some top acts in the business today.”
Sanders is also busy lately recording and releasing his new music. In addition to his solo work, his history includes a lengthy stint as guitarist and lead vocalist for Signal Mountain. His songs – or tunes he has co-written – have been recorded by artists such as The Del McCoury Band and Kix Brooks.
“I have a new single coming out on the EMG label,” Sanders said. “The single will be a part of an all-new, all-gospel project that we will be releasing soon.”
Sanders said the first single, titled “From Here to Hallelujah,” deals with problems people face in today’s world.
“A friend of mine named Rodney Powell gave me the title and idea for this song,” Sanders explained. “Rodney and I collaborated via text message, sharing ideas he had for the song. I was confined and isolated with Covid when the song was written. It was the first round of Covid. Fellow Oklahoman and bluegrass friend Joe Diffie had just passed away. The song simply talks about the fear and problems that the world faces daily. Hopefully, the song communicates the fact that you don’t have to fear and you don’t have to worry if you …get your ticket now, ‘From Here to Hallelujah.’”
It seems Sanders has been particularly touched by bluegrass.
“I can and do listen to all types of music,” he said. “I enjoy hearing the differences in the way each genre is communicated with words and with music.”
“I’m a Merle Haggard, Bob Wills fan,” He continued. “That said, I recently promoted a couple of large modern country music shows. The bands were great. The songs and performances were top shelf. I left those country shows yearning to hear some bluegrass.”
“I renewed my vows for my love of bluegrass,” he explained. “I think it’s the simplicity of bluegrass that makes it special. Bluegrass music is real; it’s heartfelt. The players and singers in today’s bluegrass world are among the best musicians in the world.”