Vince Gill and Larry Gatlin to play benefit concert in honor of Oklahoma fiddler Byron Berline
GUTHRIE - Oklahoma native and Country Music Hall of Famer Vince Gill and fellow country music star Larry Gatlin will perform a benefit concert in honor of renowned Oklahoma fiddler and businessman Byron Berline May 7 at Guthrie's historic Scottish Rite Masonic Temple, 900 E Oklahoma Ave.
As previously reported, Berline’s Double Stop Fiddle Shop & Music Hall, home to Oklahoma's largest collection of violins and bows, was destroyed in a Feb. 23 fire in downtown Guthrie.
The Byron Berline Band also will appear at the concert. Dubbed "The Music Never Dies," the event will be hosted by the Oklahoma International Bluegrass Festival, which Berline founded and organizes each year in Guthrie.
Gatlin headlined the Oklahoma International Bluegrass Festival in 2010 and returned in 2011 to perform as the Gatlin Brothers with his siblings Steve and Rudy Gatlin.
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Gill, who was born in Norman and grew up in Oklahoma City, headlined the Guthrie fest in 2012, when he talked to me in an interview about Berline's critical role in getting his hall of fame career started.
“I owe Byron a lot. You know, he gave me a great opportunity when I was a kid. Nineteen years old, he got me out to the West Coast and Southern California and it was a life-changing experience for me,” Gill said in our 2012 interview.
Gill and Berline first met at a bluegrass festival in Kentucky back in 1976. Once Berline heard the then-teenager perform and found out he was from Oklahoma, too, he never forgot him.
“I remembered his name, of course, and remembered his talent, his singing and his musical abilities,” Berline said back in 2012. “Our lead singer of the band I had at the time bailed out shortly after that. I kept thinking about Vince, but I didn't really have any more information on him other than I knew he was from Oklahoma City.”
When he and his wife made a return trip to Oklahoma a few months later, Berline called every Gill in the Oklahoma City phone book until he finally reached the future superstar's father, Stan. The three-time National Fiddle Champion invited Gill out to California to audition for his band Sundance, and “he sang about two songs, and I said, ‘That's enough for me. He's got the job as far as I'm concerned.' We'd been trying out a lot of different singers and players, but he fit the bill really well.
“He played with us for almost three years, I guess, and I introduced him to a lot of different folks out in California,” Berline added. “It was an opportunity for him to really kind of set his style."
As previously reported, the city of Guthrie and the Oklahoma International Bluegrass Festival partnered with OKC's Tower Theatre for a Berline benefit concert that took place Sunday featuring Jana Jae, The Bonhams, Steelwind, Red Dirt Rangers, K.C. Clifford, Alan Munde, Barry Patton, Cowboy Jim Darling, Joel T. Mosman, Byron Berline Band and more. At the end of the night, Tower Theatre operator Stephen Tyler presented Berline with an oversized check for more than $22,000.
For updates on the efforts to help Berline and his family, go to www.facebook.com/doublestopsupport.