Benefit concert to return 100% of donations to renowned Oklahoma fiddler

OKLAHOMA CITY - After a month of planning, a benefit concert for renowned musicion Byron Berline is coming together Sunday night. The concert was  planned after Berline's store, The Double Stop Fiddle Shop, in Guthrie, burned down last month.

In American music circles, Berline's name is synonymous with anything fiddle-related, and he is renowned for his contribution to bluegrass music.

"He's literally everywhere," said Stephen Tyler, a managing partner at the Tower Theatre. "Everybody knew what the Double Stop was, everybody knew who Byron was."

So when his shop burned down alongside a Guthrie flower shop at the end of February, the devastation was felt deeply. Many of the instruments lost were priceless in their historical significance.

"Masterpieces," said Theatre Tower venue manager Lucas Gillette. "You wouldn’t even want to sell them. Just works of art that play music."

Tyler said that as soon as they learned about the tragedy, they knew they had to do something to help someone with such an integral part of the local music community. However, they knew they wouldn't be able to come close to replacing the millions of dollars lost.

"We knew that was his livelihood, so we just kind of thought if we can do anything raise some money to bridge a gap in insurance claims or whatever," Tyler said. "Whatever he and his family were going to need."

The Tower Theatre teamed up with Eventbrite, Citizen's Bank, and the Red Dirt Relief Fund to make sure all fees went to the Berline family. Even liquor was donated for the bar.

"Literally every dollar that is coming in is going to go right back to him and his family," Tyler said.

Local artists and businesses also donated items for a silent auction. Some of the featured pieces include a guitar signed by Toby Keith, Mumford and Sons signed vinyl, and a fiddle that was signed by Berline was won in a silent auction years ago.

Fans and friends are hoping to help Berline and his family get back on their feet. In the long run, they're hoping to see the treasured Oklahoma institution reopened.

"People have a personal investment in these historic places," Gillette said.

The doors to the benefit open at 5 p.m. for drinks and the silent auction. The concert is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. By Sunday afternoon, there were about 60 seats left as well as standing room. Tickets can be purchased online and at the door.

The Tower Theatre is located at 425 NW 23rd St. in Oklahoma City.

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