It all Started with Forrest Delk

Forrest Delk

Forrest Delk learned to play fiddle beginning at age seven. His mother, Annie, played mandolin and was instrumental in developing his interest in music. While a high school student in Silver City, New Mexico, he played in the orchestra for a while but never developed a taste for that "long-hair music." He also played trombone in the school band.

It was summer 1934 when Forrest, at 17 years, was asked to play for an outdoor dance at Apache Grove, Arizona. He and some musician friends loaded up in a Model A Ford and drove to Apache Grove on a Saturday afternoon. About the time they arrived, it started raining and it rained so hard that all the creeks came up and nobody could get to the dance. When they returned home the next day, they had to cross all the creeks that had washed out the night before and Forrest called his band the "Gully Jumpers" from that time on.

Forrest and his Gully Jumpers played for dances throughout southwest New Mexico for over sixty years. Robbie Arnspiger started playing mandolin with Forrest in late 1934 and they were together for nearly fifty years. Robbie hung it up sometime in the early 1980s. He and his wife of 62 years, Grace Ola, live in Silver City.

During the late 1930s and '40s, Forrest played for many a dance at the Lion's Club building in Bayard, New Mexico. During that era, some of the others who played with him were his sister Aloha on piano, Tex Little on guitar, Julian McSherry on drums, Roberta Ramsey on piano and Junior Hedges on saxophone.

In the late '40s, folks in the Mimbres Valley got together and built a community hall that became known as the Roundup Lodge Hall. Forrest played for dances here for over 35 years. It was during the early years of this era, that Judge Rickburg on rhythm guitar and Ed Werner on bull fiddle played with him.Gully Jumpers

The next era, during the late '50s and '60s, Forrest and Robbie Arnspiger were still together but new additions to the bank were Mutt Johnson on steel guitar, Buzz Wetzel on rhythm guitar, Bob Kasten on drums and Dean Lee on bass guitar. Forrest's daughter Lynda and sons Joe and Jimmy also played through the '60s and into the '70s.

Forrest and his band played for many square dance festivals through the late '40s and '50s. Square dancing was extremely popular during this time. In addition to the regular monthly dances at the Mimbres Roundup Lodge Hall, he frequently played at the White Signal Community Hall near Tyrone, New Mexico and quite often at the Legion Hall in Animas, New Mexico and many times at Cliff, New Mexico.

He also played for the annual Old Timers' Reunion in Deming, New Mexico for close to 26 years, the New Mexico Cattle Growers' Convention in Albuquerque for many years and the infamous "Aggie Brawl" at New Mexico State University several times.

Forrest Delk's unique style of dance music is legendary in New Mexico and his legacy continues on. Today, several of his grandchildren are musicians and will cary the tradition to the next generation.

Forrest Delk died April 15, 1996 following a brief illness. His wife, Gertrude, lives at the family ranch east of Silver City.


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