January 27, 2023
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GAIL M. WILLIAMS 

What happens when four guys in a small town know each other and know that they all play musical instruments? 

They get together and form a band. 

Muleshoe Pickers came together in exactly that way about six years ago. The group consists of Dave Sudduth, Joe Gear, Terry Kemp and Tyler Black. 

“Everybody plays guitar,” said Sudduth, who also plays mandolin. “Terry plays lead, Tyler and I play rhythm, and Joe plays rhythm and sings.” 

The Pickers are frequently featured at the Muleshoe Senior Citizens Center. They’ve also played for the Heritage Center, the Chamber of Commerce and at various family reunions. 

Favorite song choices are by George Strait, John Denver and Merle Haggard. 

“Just about anything by Merle Haggard is popular, like ‘Silver Wings’ and ‘Mama Tried’” Sudduth said. “‘Wagon Wheels’ by black musician Darius Rucker is a favorite thing that we do with the audience.” 

Sudduth’s personal favorites are gospel songs like “Amazing Grace,” “A Change Is Gonna Come,” “Because He Lives” and “Just a Closer Walk with Thee.” 

All four of the Muleshoe Pickers are longtime Muleshoe residents. Kemp and Tyler are Muleshoe natives. Joe Gear, who was born in Amarillo, has lived in Muleshoe for more than 40 years. 

“I’ve lived here for 57 years,” said Sudduth, a Crosbyton native. “I was a CPA with my own accounting business in Muleshoe for 45 years. Joe Gear worked for Xcel at Tolk plant for many years. He retired just a few months ago. Terry Kemp was in the irrigation pump business for a long time, and Tyler Black farms.” 

The 86-year-old Sudduth grew up in a musical family. His dad played the guitar, and his mom played the piano. Sudduth’s brother Rick played the fiddle. 

“I started as a teenager,” Sudduth said. “My brother, he and I and couple of the guys had a little band in high school. We played for parties, things like that, so I’ve been somewhat involved since I was in my teens.” 

Rick Suddoth, who lived in Canyon, frequently joined in with the Muleshoe Pickers when the band first started. 

“He passed away about a year ago,” Suddoth said. 

Whether or not there’s an audience, the Pickers keep the music going. 

“We try to get together once a week and just have a jam session. We get together in Terry Kemp’s garage and jam for three or four hours,” Sudduth said. “We do it for fun.” 

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