Oklahoma’s Largest Roots Songwriter Fest will stream for free May 12 at 7pm

April 20, 2021—Bob Childers’ Gypsy Café, Oklahoma’s largest homegrown songwriter festival now in its tenth year, will be filmed live in the Gypsy Café at the birthplace of Red Dirt Music, The Farm in Stillwater, Okla. The show will stream for free at ocollytv.comon May 12 at 7:00pm. The event benefits Oklahoma artists in need through the Red Dirt Relief Fund.

The festival lineup that usually includes more than 60 Oklahoma songwriters has been condensed for time to include performances by Mike McClure, Kaitlin Butts, John Fullbright, Red Dirt Rangers, Mike Hosty, Ken Pomeroy, Bo Phillips, Monica Taylor, Chuck Dunlap, Jacob Tovar, Buffalo Rogers, Greg Jacobs as well as a special performance from the Byron Berline Band to honor this year’s Restless Spirit Award honoree, the late Jim Paul Blair. The broadcast will also include the winning song from the Jimmy LaFave Songwriting Contest, “Hope & Gasoline” by Ahna Jennings.

“We really hoped we could host our tenth year of this festival with a full audience, but the health and safety of our artists and fans is always top priority,” said Red Dirt Relief Fund Executive Director Katie Dale. “On the bright side, we were able to restore the Gypsy Café, a small outbuilding where picking circles and musician gatherings have taken place since the beginning at the Farm. So we’re bringing this event back to its roots and filming a live show that people can watch around the world.”

The show will premiere for free thanks to support from sponsors including Grand Casino, The Collaborative Tulsa, Tito’s Handmande Vodka, Oklahoma Film + Music Office, White Claw and Coors Light. Red Dirt Relief Fund will be accepting donations for their financial assistance fund at reddirtrelieffund.org/donatePayPal.me/RDRF and by selling festival merchandise through Ida Red General Store starting May 1st. Since the pandemic began, the nonprofit has granted $272,000 in emergency grants to Oklahoma music people affected by COVID-19 cancellations and closures. Since 2012, the organization has granted more than $450,000 in emergency aid to music people across industry geographies and genres.

Tuning In

Direct any device to ocollytv.com on May 12 at 7:00pm to watch the show premiere and follow Red Dirt Relief Fund social media for additional content captured at the Farm starting May 1. 

Restless Spirit Award Presentation

This annual award will be presented to Katey Sherrick Blair on behalf of her late husband, Jim Paul Blair, a beloved Oklahoma musician, performer, business leader, philanthropist, storyteller and former Red Dirt Relief Fund Board member. Blair’s musical journey started at birth—his mother, Ramona Reed, was a performer with the Grand Ole Opry and member of the Texas Playboys. He attended Oklahoma State University and joined his first bluegrass band in Stillwater. He played in bands around Oklahoma before moving to Nashville in the 1990’s where he was a member of the Neverly Brothers and Neverly Hillbillies. He returned to Oklahoma in 1998, toured Europe with the country band City Moon, and continued to perform in bands and tribute character roles like Hankerin’ 4 Hank (Williams) and Buddy Holly. He also served music organizations and festivals including as the Executive Director of Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame in Muskogee, his hometown, Oklahoma International Bluegrass Festival, GFest and Bob Childers’ Gypsy Cafe. Blair passed away February 11, 2020, after a sudden respiratory illness.

The Restless Spirit Award is given by the Red Dirt Relief Fund in recognition of a musician who has impacted the Oklahoma music community in a spirit akin to Bob Childers, a prolific songwriter and the so-called godfather of red dirt music. Previous honorees include Jimmy LaFave (2017), Brandon Jenkins (2018), Randy Crouch (2019) and Steve Ripley (2020). 

Jimmy LaFave Songwriting Contest Finalist  

The show will also feature Ahna Jennings performing her song “Hope & Gasoline” that won the 2021 Jimmy LaFave Songwriting Contest held earlier this year. Out of more than 60 entries, judges including Tim Easton, Radoslav Lorkovic, Brad Piccolo and Roger Ray selected three finalists: “Hope & Gasoline” by Ahna Jennings, “Little Boy Blue & Little Boy Wonder” by Travis Kidd (2nd place) and “The Songwriter” by Adam Miller (3rd place).

In addition to performing during the show, Jennings will also receive a $500 prize. The runners-up will receive a class in songwriting theory from ACM@UCO in Oklahoma City. Previous winners of the contest include Ken Pomeroy (2018), Dallas Parker aka Faux Draco (2019) and Joe Baxter (2020). 

For more information visit reddirtrelieffund.org/gypsycafe or contact Katie Dale at 918-407-4599 or reddirtrelieffund@gmail.com