Our Mission: The Red Dirt Relief Fund provides a safety net of critical assistance for Oklahoma music people in times of need.
The Red Dirt Relief Fund, Inc., is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that has provided more than $60,000 to 37 music people in 17 Oklahoma cities and towns since its inception in 2012. Recipients’ situations range from loss of property due to wildfire and tornado to loss of work after accidents or medical emergencies.
It’s been said musicians don’t have insurance—they host benefits. It was the tough truth in this quip that led Red Dirt musicians and fans to begin an organization to serve music people in times of need.
Financial backing to begin the Fund grew out of one very special event in Stillwater, Oklahoma—the birthplace of Red Dirt music. The event, called Red Bull Gypsy Café, brought over 30 of the scene’s most talented and successful singer/songwriters together in April 2011 to perform in pairs at intimate live music venues around Stillwater. All ticket proceeds were used to begin the Fund.
But the story doesn’t start, or end, there…Keep reading to learn more about the music and its history.
Critics say that Red Dirt can best be likened to the indie genre of rock ‘n’ roll as there is no definitive sound that can be attributed to all the bands in the movement. It has been described as a mix of folk, rock, country, bluegrass, blues, Western swing, and honky tonk, with even a few Mexican influences. Some say it’s a state of mind as much as it is a sound –a sound that successfully closes the gap between rock and country.
- While the structure no longer stands, the spirit remains.
The genre was born in Stillwater, Oklahoma at a place called “The Farm”, a 2-story farmhouse on the outskirts of town where beginning in 1979, Red Dirt Music evolved. For over 20 years a myriad of singers and songwriters, instrumentalists, bands, students, poets, painters, free-thinkers, farmers, and fuzz heads came to the Farm to “get their freak on”. They jammed in the living room, on the front porch, in the garage, known as the Gypsy Cafe, and around campfires in the yard where “the sheer joy of creating music with friends transcended everything else.” John Cooper of the Red Dirt Rangers said, “The Farm was as much an attitude as a physical structure. It allowed a setting where freedom rang and all things were possible. Out of this setting came the music.”
And come it did—artists from Bob Childers to Jason Boland, Tom Skinner to Stony LaRue, Randy Crouch to Cody Canada, Monica Taylor to Mike McClure, and so many more—spent time at The Farm over the years. And they launched their musical careers from Stillwater’s live music joints like Wormy Dog, Willies and Eskimo Joe’s.
The physical farm house structure burned down in 2003, but the property remains hallowed ground to musicians who have played there over the years.
- The Godfather of Red Dirt Music
Bob Childers, known as the “Dylan of dust” and the “Godfather” of Red Dirt music, was a muse to many artists at the Farm. Five years prior to his death on April 22, 2008, Childers was inducted into the Oklahoma Music Awards Red Dirt Hall of Fame along with Steve Ripley and Tom Skinner. The three awardees performed at the ceremony for the First Annual Red Dirt Music Awards held on Sunday, November 9, 2003 at Cain’s Ballroom in Tulsa.