It’s happening — and a full year sooner than anticipated.
OKC Fest is ambitious would draw a knowing chuckle from longtime
Oklahoma resident Fred Hall, who helped plan this year’s inaugural gala.
For starters, he projected a launch date of 2015.
“Things took on a momentum that surprised everyone,” Hall said.
Mick Cornett, Greater Oklahoma City Chamber, Downtown OKC Inc. and
others came together to kick it off a year sooner. Hall formed his own
company, Rokfest, LLC, to help make it happen.
said if it wasn’t for a massive tragedy, he wouldn’t have believed it
was possible to create, in just a handful of months, a festival that
expects at least 10,000 people a day.
However, after he saw the community response to the 2013 tornado damage throughout Oklahoma, he knew it could be done. He just had to find the right partner to make things click — and do it quickly.
“All these Oklahoma artists came home and came together after the storms,” he said.
events at Chesapeake were planned with mere weeks’ notice, but they
also had major help. Meanwhile, Hall realized something else.
struck me is that we should build a music community where our biggest
talent doesn’t have to leave Oklahoma in order to become successful,” he
So Hall joined
with Victor Sansone, former chairman of the Country Music Association,
to conceptualize an event that celebrated his city.
“I’ve produced country fairs since the ’80s,” Hall said. “But I’ve never done anything like this before.”
where Sansone used his roster of contacts. Soon, headliners including
Merle Haggard, Dierks Bentley, Lady Antebellum and Scotty McCreery were
What was developed was a weekend-long festival that’s free during the day and paid at night with a chart-topping roster of country music acts.
Nighttime festival tickets start at $35 for the Friday and Saturday night headliners.
couldn’t see one of these headliners for $35 anywhere,” Sansone said.
“But thanks to the support from the city, ticket prices have been kept
the day on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, free, family friendly events
will fill downtown and the Myriad Botanical Gardens. There also will be
food vendors, face painting, youth activities and several stages of
music with dozens of local bands, including everything from gospel to
jazz; Spanish-language acts; and even The First Lady of Rockabilly,
Wanda Jackson, at 7 p.m. Saturday. Nighttime concerts are ticketed and
will take place at an outdoor stage on the corner of Harvey and Reno
from this event will benefit local youth music scholarships, school
music programs, instruments and other music-related needs.
that happens here, that’s spent here, stays here,” Hall said. “That’s
not a small statement. This is all about the betterment of our city.”
Get Randy at OKC Fest
Randy Rogers says he writes songs about
real-life, blue-collar people. He spent years earning a buck by working
at McDonald’s, refereeing intramural sports and cleaning pools.
“But this is the craziest job I’ve ever had,” he said. “It’s still the biggest rush in the world.”
band is often labeled as Texas Country. (It was formed in Cleburne,
Texas, after all.) But he fully embraces Oklahoma’s Red Dirt scene — a
combination of Southern rock, country rock, blues, bluegrass, honkytonk
and Western swing music that originated in Stillwater’s rich music scene
in the late 20th century.
“I came up under the wings
of Jason Boland & the Stragglers, Stoney LaRue and Mike McClure and
those guys, so I thank them a lot,” he said. “All musicians sound
different, but it’s all Red Dirt and it’s all Texas music. The music is
about a lifestyle, not a sound.”
The lifestyle often
includes familystyle jams with members from any other group at any time
during any show, long road tours together and a unity with fans and
audiences that is often unique. The lifestyle comes with a “flag-waving”
pride of the music, state, region and community — and of each other.
“There are no limits,” he said. “We’re all family, and we live, work and play hard together.”
But Rogers credits the music — and the lifestyle — to true outlaw country.
of this is our fault,” he said. “It goes back to people like Waylon
(Jennings) and Willie (Nelson) and Merle (Haggard) and those guys who
made their own rules ... and wrote their own music.”