Down Home in Oklahoma
You have to wonder, why a music festival in a town with a population of 128 and no post office or even an expressway exit? (We had to get off in Checotah and drive back.) Well, that turned out to be an interesting story — a love story.
Rentiesville and 40-some other towns were founded by former slaves after the Civil War as part of what they hoped would become a freed black state. That dream, of course, didn’t work out. Many of those towns fell back into dust, but the community of Rentiesville survived.
In 1935 D.C. Minner was born in Rentiesville in a house where his grandmother ran a bar called the Cozy Corner, selling corn whiskey and home-brewed beer. Minner grew up to play in bands with Freddie King, Chuck Berry, Eddie Floyd and Bo Diddley. In 1988 he and his wife Selby Minner, a singer and bassist who came to the blues by way of the Rhode Island School of Design, moved back to Rentiesville to fix up his grandmother’s house and reopen the bar under the name Down Home Blues Club. In 1991 they organized the first “Dusk Till Dawn” festival. It has run every Labor Day weekend since. After D.C. passed away, Selby took it as her mission to keep the club and festival going. That’s the tradition we walked into, and we are honored to be a part of it.
There was no homebrew at the festival, at least that we saw. The beer choices were Bud, Bud Light and Michelob Ultra. The food choices were brisket, hot link, fried fish, Indian taco and ribs.
MARK: What kind of meat is that?
MARK: I mean, is it pork or beef?
FRANHER: I don’t know. Some animal with ribs.
As far as the “Dusk Till Dawn” aspect, they told us Guitar Shorty’s Saturday night set ended at 7:00 Sunday morning. We played outdoors Sunday evening and several hours later closed the festival with a set in the house. By the time we loaded out at 4:00 in the morning, everybody looked happy but ready for bed.