Jimmy LaFave Songwriting Contest Finalists Announced!

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On May 2, 2018, Bob Childers’ Gypsy Café returns to Stillwater for its seventh year! In an effort to include undiscovered talent at the state’s largest songwriter festival, organizers announced the Jimmy LaFave Songwriting Contest in early March. 

Judges recently narrowed a field of more than 40 songs down to 4 finalists: 

Jason Scott’s “She Good to Me:” From Oklahoma City, Jason is a multi faceted Oklahoma-born singer-songwriter, producer and owner of ON studios.

Sophia Babb’s “If I Were a Ghost:” From Oklahoma City, Sophia is a folk-singer, wayfarer, and writer from the heart of Oklahoma.

Emily Faith’s “Silver Bullets:” From Kingfisher, Okla., Emily is a rising talent with credits including opening shows for President George W. Bush and Marty Stuart, as well as being a featured artist on Radio Disney.

Ken Pomeroy’s “The Sidewalk Song:” From Moore, Okla., Ken is a 15-year-old singer/songwriter with a Folk Americana sound who received the Rising Star award from the Songwriters Association of Norman in 2016.

Finalists will play their songs before a live audience on May 1st from 6:00-9:00pm at Willie’s Saloon, 323 S. Washington in Stillwater, for a chance to be selected as the overall winner.  The event at Willie’s is free and open to the public. 

The winner will receive a $500 cash prize, a spot in the lineup at 2018 Gypsy Cafe and a $500 donation will be made in his/her name to the Red Dirt Relief Fund.

Finalists were selected by a panel of judges representing Red Dirt Relief Fund and the Jimmy LaFave Trust, including:

 Eliza Gilkeyson is a 2-time Grammy-nominated singer, songwriter and Austin-based activist who has become one of the most respected musicians in Folk, Roots and  Americana circles.

 Brad Piccolo is Vocalist/Guitar/Songwriter for Red Dirt Rangers and a current member of the Red Dirt Relief Fund Board of Directors.

 Deana McCloud is Executive Director of the Woody Guthrie Center in Tulsa, Okla.

 Carter Sampson is an Okie-born singer/songwriter with a big voice—the self-proclaimed “Queen of Oklahoma.”

 The contest was open to Oklahoma songwriters who are unsigned without a current publishing deal.  

According to Red Dirt Relief Fund Executive Director Katie Dale, “You can’t tell the story of Red Dirt music without Bob Childers, and you can’t tell the story of Bob Childers without Jimmy LaFave. The two were dear friends who wrote songs together while Jimmy began his career. It all began in Stillwater for Jimmy. Our hope is this contest could be the start to another’s musical journey, too.”

The addition of the Jimmy LaFave Songwriting Contest comes after what many describe as the most moving moment in Gypsy Café history—when LaFave accepted the inaugural Restless Spirit award at last year’s festival “in recognition of a musician who has impacted the Oklahoma music community in a spirit akin to Bob Childers.” This contest highlights the spirit of mentorship and musical discovery that have become hallmarks of a festival that brings more than 60 Oklahoma songwriters together to perform for fans from around the region.   The contest was created and underwritten by old friends honoring LaFave, with cooperation of the Jimmy LaFave Trust, in the way he most wanted to be remembered—for songwriting.

Bob Childers’ Gypsy Café festival tickets that allow access to all venues start at $20 and are on sale now at https://amplitix.com/gypsycafe. A limited number of Reserved Seating VIP tickets are available for $50. Tickets are nonrefundable as the show is rain or shine.

The festival format remains the same as previous years with small songwriter groupings playing 45-minute sets across three venues: Eskimo Joe’s, George’s Stables and Stonewall Tavern. The evening will culminate with the presentation of the 2018 Restless Spirit Award and an all-musician finale on the main stage.

Red Dirt Relief Fund took over management of the festival in the fall of 2013 after Red Bull hosted the event in spring of 2011 and 2012. In 2017, the festival raised almost $20,000 for Oklahoma musicians in need. Since the Red Dirt Relief Fund was founded in 2012, it has provided over $70,000 to musicians across the state.

Visit reddirtrelieffund.org, friend Red Dirt Relief Fund on Facebook or follow @reddirtrelief for festival updates.

For more information, visit www.reddirtrelieffund.org/gypsycafe. For media or sponsorship inquiries, please contact Katie Dale at reddirtrelieffund@gmail.com or 918-407-4599.

Jimmy LaFave receiving the Inaugural Restless Spirit Award Credit: Clay Billman