Bob Childers’ Gypsy Café, Oklahoma’s largest homegrown songwriter festival now in its tenth year, was filmed live in the Gypsy Café at the birthplace of Red Dirt Music, The Farm in Stillwater, Okla. The event benefits Oklahoma artists in need through the Red Dirt Relief Fund.
The festival lineup that usually includes more than 60 Oklahoma songwriters was 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, Thomas Trapp & Tequila Kim Reynolds 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 was free thanks to support from sponsors, but to raise funds for their financial assistance grants, Red Dirt Relief Fund is taking donations and selling festival merchandise through Ida Red General Store.
Since the pandemic began, Red Dirt Relief Fund has granted $272,000 in emergency grants to more than 700 Oklahoma music people across 38 counties. Every little bit helps these struggling music professionals provide for themselves and their families as they struggle to find work. Since 2012, the organization has granted more than $450,000 in emergency aid to music people across industry genres and geographies.
Restless Spirit Award Presentation
This annual award was 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).