Friends help man rebuild fiddle shop in Guthrie following fire

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GUTHRIE, Okla. - The empty windows, the sooty ash - the Double Stop Fiddle Shop will never breathe with the musical life it once contained.

"You never get over it," said owner Byron Berline.

Berline, a legendary fiddle player, is still compiling a painful list of items that suddenly spring to mind - then suddenly burn all over again.

"So many things, I collected all my life," he said.

A little more than a month after a fire that burned his business and the flower shop next door, Berline has a clearer picture of his post-fire future.

"It changes your whole life, your whole perspective on things," he said. "So, what are we gonna do now?"

Berline already misses those impromptu jam sessions that used to walk through his front door. Friends all went back to help when they heard what happened.

"What can I do?" is the question Berline recalls his friends asking. "What can we do?"

The Berlines lost more than 400 fiddles, dozens of guitars and thousands of pictures but not their resolve to rebuild and keep the music alive.

"You know you can't just curl up in a ball and pull the covers over your head," he said.

The losses still outweigh the victories, but those wins were important ones.

Berline's son-in-law risked his life to run into the store and retrieve a favorite fiddle.

A safe and an extra strong instrument case saved permanent damage to another prize possession, Berline's 1923 Lloyd Loar Gibson Mandolin.

"I figured, when I opened that case ,I'd find just a piece of charcoal," he said.

It needs to strings but will play again.

"I was so fortunate and so happy this survived," he said.

The Double Stop will fill with music again as well, Berline insists, someday soon in another location.

It's not time to retire yet.

"People ask me when I'm going to retire. I say what do you want me to give up? Fiddling or golf?" Berline said.

Several benefit concerts were planned in the weeks following the fire in Guthrie.

On March 29, a show is scheduled for the 51st Street Speakeasy in Oklahoma City.

Another benefit is scheduled for March 31 at the Tower Theater in Oklahoma City.

The largest benefit is tentatively scheduled for May 7 at the Masonic Temple in Guthrie. Vince Gill will headline with Larry Gatlin and the Turnpike Troubadors.

All proceeds will go to help the Double Stop rebuild.

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