Dubbed "Okies Love Louisianans," the fundraiser hosted live music in a casual backyard setting complete with a grill, red beer-filled plastic cups, and a welcoming hodge-podge of blankets and chairs. Music acts ranged from the indie rock stylings of Haniwa to Gentry Counce's acoustic country rock to one of DJ Tom Hudson's trademark soul sets.
"So many musicians were eager to participate that I couldn't even include everyone that volunteered to play," said Elecktra Stanislava, music coordinator and fellow performer for the fundraiser. The lineup filled within 4 hours of its announcement, she said.
Other musical performers included Christina Kimbrell, Jane Mays, SafeWord, Rachel Lynch, and Brad Fielder. Impromptu banter from comedy outfit Wooden Elbow helped fill space when needed. Additionally, Anthem Brewing Company and El Rancho Salsa contributed to the cookout with beer and salsa, and a portion of the cash donations came from a brunch fundraiser held by OKC's HiLo Club.
The event took place at Roundabout, an OKC house venue and community center on SW 14th St., from 5 pm to around midnight on the last Sunday of August. This date put the event just one day before the 11th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.
As Roundabout founder BC Summers explained throughout the evening, the cause literally hit close to home. She was one of hundreds of thousands displaced by that disaster when she lived in New Orleans. This deep attachment to Louisiana makes her an ideal caretaker for when she delivers the donations personally next week.
Born and bred Oklahomans are not unfamiliar with such tragedy, though, as many of the musicians were quick to point out.
"Since we live in tornado alley, we are very empathetic to how a sudden natural disaster can change your entire life," said Stanislava. "You cannot replace the lives lost or family photos, but in times of tragedy, a stranger reaching out and offering you support can ease the burdens and feelings of hopelessness."
For Dylan Walling, member of Haniwa, participating in Okies Love Louisianans was a no-brainer. "Lives have been lost, homes have been destroyed, and I think it's our desire as a band to, if nothing else, help to shed some light on this disaster," he said.
Like Stanislava, Walling also noted "a real sense of empathy" at the fundraiser, but he pointed out that when disasters like the Louisiana floods happen with great frequency, that empathy can grow numb. "I think it's extremely important that we don't grow a thick skin to national tragedies," he said.