Just north of the state capital in Oklahoma City is the community of Guthrie, a town that played a significant part in the history of Oklahoma. It had served the original state capital, with an interesting story over the past 135 years.
During the land run of 1889, Guthrie was established on April 22, and by nightfall, it was a tent city with over 10,000 people. With only four months of the “run” behind them, the small community had six banks, 16 barbers – guess with 10,000 people a shave and a haircut were important – 16 blacksmiths, 17 carpenters, two cigar manufacturers, five newspapers, seven hardware stores, and an astounding 81 lawyers!
It was in November 1907 that Oklahoma was declared a state, and President Theodore Roosevelt made Guthrie the state capital. It remained so until a majority vote of the legislature moved it to Oklahoma City.
Growing up in Oklahoma, I had always heard talk of the capital being stolen. Still known for its Victorian elegance, Guthrie also has a top bluegrass connection as the former home of Byron Berline, and in 1996, Lisa Sorrell sewed herself the title of bespoke boot maker. Just a mere two doors from the new Fiddle Shop, Byron’s old shop, is a quaint little storefront. Upon entering you will think you are in a movie, seeing shoe forms, lasts, vintage sewing machines, a plethora of leathers, and a small red headed woman, bookmaker Lisa Sorrell, who is always eager to greet visitors with a smile and share the story of how she became an elite custom cobbler.
It was almost exactly a year ago, January 31, 2023, that Lisa was in the spotlight in Bluegrass Today, for a profile about how her internationally known made-to-measure boots have been inspired by her love for bluegrass and traditional country music.
Last spring a pair of her boots patterned after the epic cover of The Louvin Brothers classic album, Satan Is Real, were included in the IBMA Foundation’s Strings For Dreams raffle.
Then Lisa posted on social media something that instantly grabbed my interest.
“Hey everyone! The lady who won this raffle generously donated the boots back to the IBMA Foundation so they could be raffled again. You get one more opportunity for a chance to win a pair of Satan Is Real/Ira and Charlie Louvin boots custom-made just for you!”
Ira and Charlie Louvin were a brother duet team who started out singing gospel music, and eventually moved into also performing secular music. Their beautiful harmony singing influenced everyone from Elvis to EmmyLou Harris. The Louvin Brothers’ most iconic gospel album, Satan Is Real, was released in 1959; the cover features Ira and Charlie in a rock quarry surrounded by flames, and overshadowed by a large Satan made of plywood, created by Ira.
Ira was a drinker who felt he had been called to preach instead of play music. His conflicted feelings led him to swing wildly between heaven and hell, which inspired many heartfelt songs about sin, alcohol, hell, and the devil. The title track of the album tells the story of a sweet and comforting church service derailed by an old man’s admonition to warn of Satan and the harm he does to society and families. I spent much of my childhood in outdoor camp meetings listening to many similar exhortations and sermons, and the recitation by Ira instantly transports me back in time. I rarely heard secular music in my childhood, but I remember growing up listening to our three Louvin Brothers gospel albums (including Satan Is Real), deeply feeling the passion, guilt, regret, and joy of which they sang, and learning harmony as I sang along.
Tickets can be purchased online for $20, or six for $100, and the raffle closes on February 29 at 11:59 p.m.
These boots are valued at over $10,000, and each stitch and design was cut by hand by Lisa in her downtown Guthrie shop.
There is so much more to Guthrie, OK than the little town that used to be the state capital. Bluegrass loving visitors can go from the legendary Byron Berline and his Double Stop Fiddle Shop, to seeing Lisa Sorrell stitching up a storm two doors down.