DAVIS — If you look closely, you can still see the holes in the walls of Arbuckle Ballroom from the fire code-busting concert the late, great George Jones put on there in the 1970s.
“They literally cut holes in the walls for fire safety because of the fire marshal that night ... and you can see where they came back in and patched it. The more doors you have, the more people you can get in. So they were like exit holes,” said Rachel Jones, who with her husband John has owned the 40-year-old venue for the past four years.
She thinks Sunday's show might be even bigger than The Possum's performance back in the day.
The venerable Davis venue will play host Sunday to “Red Dirt Rising: An Oklahoma Tornado Relief Benefit Concert,” which will bring together more than 100 musicians on four stages. The one-day festival will feature top red dirt and Texas country talents like The Great Divide, The Damn Quails, No Justice, JB and the Moonshine Band, Curtis Grimes and the Red Dirt Rangers.
“We're expecting the biggest crowd that the Arbuckle has ever had,” said Stillwater red dirt musician Bo Phillips, who is organizing the event.
He hopes “Red Dirt Rising” will attract 2,500 to 3,000 fans and raise more than $100,000. The proceeds will be donated to the National Christian Foundation's Oklahoma Tornado Relief Fund. The charity has a donor that pledged to match each donation dollar for dollar up to $1 million.
“That may be a lofty goal, but I think if you state your goal ... you're a lot more apt to work towards it,” Phillips said.
“I want all the money that we collect to stay in Oklahoma, and I wanted to pick somebody or some organization that has as minimal overhead costs as possible.”
He began organizing “Red Dirt Rising” on May 21, the day after a devastating EF5 tornado tore through Moore and the surrounding area. Since his band was already set to play a Saturday show at the ballroom, he called up the Joneses, who readily agreed to host the benefit.
“As soon as it happened, we knew that they were going to need some crazy funding to even make a dent in what's needed over there. And I'm not even talking about just Moore. ... It's not just for Moore, it's for Carney and Shawnee and El Reno this last week. Whoever is affected, we'll try to help,” Phillips said.