Now in its third year, the Jimmy LaFave Songwriting Contest is open to unsigned and emerging Oklahoma songwriters. The contest is free with a grand prize of $500 and the chance to join the lineup of Bob Childers Gypsy Café, Oklahoma’s largest songwriter festival, on April 29, 2020.
Each artist may submit one lyric-driven song online at https://forms.gle/tqN2b7oFMrmmyQ6k6 by March 1st.
The songwriting contest and festival are organized by the nonprofit Red Dirt Relief Fund that provides assistance to Oklahoma music people. According to Red Dirt Relief Fund Executive Director Katie Dale, “Entering the third year of this contest, we are inspired by the depth and diversity of song submissions. Last year’s winning song “Abilities” by Dallas Parker was rap, and his performance at our traditionally Red Dirt festival got a standing ovation. It shows a good song has the power to connect with people universally. Our hope is this contest will become a platform for emerging talent to begin a musical journey—the same way Jimmy LaFave did, with the help of Bob Childers, in Stillwater more than 20 years ago.”
Three contest finalists will be selected by a panel of judges consisting of representatives from the Red Dirt Relief Fund, Jimmy LaFave Trust and other respected members of the music industry. Finalists will travel to Stillwater on April 28th to perform an acoustic version of their song for the judges before a live audience at The Salty Bronc, a new live music venue that honors the legacy of the Red Dirt music scene. One winner will be selected to perform the next day as part of the lineup at Bob Childers’ Gypsy Café and will also receive a $500 cash prize and a donation for $500 in his/her name to the Red Dirt Relief Fund. A People’s Choice winner will also be awarded a $100 cash prize. Contest rules, judging criteria and entry form can be found at https://forms.gle/tqN2b7oFMrmmyQ6k6.
The Jimmy LaFave Songwriting Contest highlights the spirit of mentorship and musical discovery that have become hallmarks of the Gypsy Café festival. Previous winners include Ken Pomeroy’s “Sidewalk Song” (2018) and Dallas Parker aka Faux Draco’s “Abilities” (2019).
Bob Childers’ Gypsy Café early bird tickets are $20 through January 31st at https://amplitix.com/gypsycafe. Starting February 1st, tickets go up to $25. Tickets are $30 at the gate, or $20 for students with ID. A limited number of Reserved Seating VIP tickets are available for $60. 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 2020 Restless Spirit Award and an all-musician finale on the main stage.
Red Dirt Relief Fund, a non-profit organization that provides a safety net of critical assistance to Oklahoma musicians, took over management of the festival in the fall of 2013 after Red Bull hosted the event in spring of 2011 and 2012. In 2019, the festival raised more than $22,000 for Oklahoma musicians in need. Since the Red Dirt Relief Fund was founded in 2012, it has provided over $175,000 to musicians across the state.