Cambry Shields, Tulsa World
Cain’s Ballroom will be celebrating its centennial with Robert Plant and Allison Krauss.
A news conference was staged Tuesday at Cain’s Ballroom to launch the iconic venue’s 100th year.
Three centennial concerts were announced, including a Plant and Krauss show. They will launch a summer tour June 2 at Cain’s.
Hanson, a homegrown pop-rock trio, will perform in December. Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit will return to Cain’s Ballroom for May 5 and May 6 shows.
Cain’s debuted in 1924 as an auto garage before becoming a dance academy, the Bob Wills-fueled birthplace of western swing music and, ultimately, a 100-year honky tonk with a rich history.
“I got this to say,” former Cain’s Ballroom owner Larry Shaeffer said when he took his turn at the microphone on the stage. “At last, at last, thank god at last, Cain’s made it to 100.”
Shaeffer called Cain’s Ballroom one of the most revered venues in the U.S. and reminded attendees that few places like Cain’s exist nowadays.
The Tulsa Office of Film, Music, Arts & Culture — or Tulsa FMAC — partnered with Cain’s to kick off the centennial year celebration with an event that included the show announcements and attendees sampling Cain’s Centennial Beer, courtesy of Marshall Brewing Co.
“We are going to celebrate all year long, but this is the beginning,” said Renee McKenney, president of Tulsa Regional Tourism.
Meg Gould, executive director of Tulsa FMAC, said it’s because of Cain’s Ballroom that Tulsa is known as a music city. She talked about working with the city to make sure Cain’s is “acknowledged and recognized for everything they have done.”
Mayor G.T. Bynum called it a great day and issued a proclamation in Cain’s Ballroom’s honor. He said Cain’s is a special place for Tulsans.
“Just having grown up here, I have so many special memories at Cain’s,” he said, sharing specifics with the crowd.
Bynum said attending a show at Cain’s is like hanging out in a small club with the world’s greatest artists. Shaeffer mentioned Van Halen, Annie Lennox, the Pretenders, the Police, Bon Jovi and U2 among acts who have played Cain’s.
Shaeffer said he “was lucky enough to bring guys in here — and girls — and watched them grow.”
Shaeffer, who owned Cain’s Ballroom for about 25 years, said the shows at Cain’s are unforgettable and that that’s due in part to the “other” stars of the building — the people who showed up to support the shows.
Bynum said it’s important that, as the centennial of Cain’s is celebrated, people know they are not celebrating the centennial of just a building. There are other old buildings in Tulsa.
“What makes this special is it’s an institution,” he said, pointing out that an institution is an institution because of people — “not because of brick and mortar, but because of the dedication people have to that institution.”
Bynum credited Shaeffer and the current owners — the Rodgers family — with preserving Cain’s Ballroom. Shaeffer also praised the Rodgers family.
Co-owner Chad Rodgers, speaking on behalf of the family, said his parents recognized the importance of Cain’s, both for Tulsa and for music history, and took a big leap of faith in purchasing the building in 2002. He thanked his brother, Hunter, who has worked alongside him in shepherding Cain’s to its centennial, and a Cain’s Ballroom staff that he considers family.
To show appreciation for the support that Cain’s has received over the years, Chad Rodgers said some free concerts are being planned. Details will be announced later, and new merchandise will arrive soon.
Rodgers made the Isbell concert announcement before turning over the microphone to music artist J.D. McPherson, who recently returned to Tulsa from Nashville. McPherson, who has shared stages with Krauss and Plant, handled the announcement about their Cain’s show.
Rodgers returned to the microphone to announce the Hanson show and told the audience that Taylor Hanson was in the crowd.
“The Hansons have been friends of Cain’s for many years, and it is always a pleasure working with them,” Rodgers said.
Wes Alexander, Marshall Brewing Co.’s director of sales and marketing, said a release party for the Cain’s Centennial Beer will be held at Marshall Brewing Co. at a later date.