Oklahoma singer-songwriter Jake Flint and his bride, Brenda, didn't seem to let the wet weather dampen their spirits as they exchanged vows on Saturday at a remote homestead between Claremore and Owasso.
"It was rainy, but he'd rented a 40-by-60 circus tent. ... They put up a bunch of carpets over the mud and then got two pieces of three-and-a-quarter-inch plywood and set it on the ground — and that was my stage. Jake goes, 'Is that gonna be all right for you?' And I go, 'Jake, that's perfect.' A piece of plywood or a flatbed trailer is where I shine," said Norman-based one-man band Mike Hosty, who played the wedding.
"I still have the mud in my old van ... but it was just a fun wedding. And it's just a tragedy what happened."
On Sunday morning, Hosty got word that Flint had died in his sleep, just hours after exchanging vows with his bride.
"He was a singer-songwriter, through and through, and just a big personality, a big heart, and (he'd) bend over backwards to do anything for you. When any musician asks you to play at their wedding, it's one of those most important days ... and it's always an honor," Hosty said.
"I really just like remembering that happy moment of seeing them being married ... but I really feel for Brenda."
The shock and grief were apparent in the Oklahoma music community Monday as word spread of Flint's sudden death at the age of 37. His longtime publicist, Clif Doyal, confirmed to The Oklahoman that the Red Dirt singer-songwriter had died in his sleep after his wedding on Saturday.
The cause of death has not yet been determined.
"He was not only a client, he was a dear friend and just a super nice guy. As you can see from the outpouring on social media, he was loved by everybody. I think a lot of it was just that he was a people person, and he had an amazing sense of humor. He made everybody laugh, and he made everybody feel welcome," Doyal said.
"He was an ambassador for Oklahoma Red Dirt music."
Up-and-coming Red Dirt musician released four albums
Based in Tulsa, Flint grew up in Holdenville, the son of a wildcat oilman and a hard-working mother of two.
He started playing music after his father, an avid music lover, was diagnosed with ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). Since he wouldn't be able to participate in sports with his son, Flint's father commissioned a couple of friends to teach the future Red Dirt up-and-comer to play guitar and take him to regional bluegrass festivals.
Along with his affection for bluegrass, Flint's musical influences ranged from 1990s rockers like Nirvana and Pearl Jam and Texas singer-songwriters like Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt to jam bands like Phish and String Cheese Incident to Red Dirt standouts like Tom Skinner and The Great Divide.
"He really loved to do it — and you could tell. ... He brought in this kind of an Irish band — I mean, (they were) bluegrass, but they had some old Irish instruments — and they did some really cool stuff with Jake. His original songs started catching my ear, and he decided to do his album in my place. He also did an album for some other songwriters," McClure told The Oklahoman.
"That was pretty indicative of Jake's spirit: Man, if you needed something, he was there. ... He was just a straight-up good dude and not only worked on his own music but tried to help pave the way for some other artists that hadn't really recorded yet."
Flint recorded and released three more albums — 2018's "Live and Not OK at Cain’s Ballroom," 2020's "Jake Flint" and 2021's "Live and Socially Distanced at Mercury Lounge" — and was a featured performer on the Future Faces Show at the 2018 Texas Regional Radio Music Awards.
He charted three singles on the Texas Regional Radio Report with 2017's "Cowtown," 2018's "Long Road Back Home" and 2020's "What's Your Name" and was named Breakout Artist of the Year at the We Are Tulsa Music Awards in 2019.
He played with his band and as a solo acoustic act at venues all over Oklahoma, Texas and surrounding states and was included on the lineup of Sooner State festivals like the Woody Guthrie Folk Festival, Bob Childers' Gypsy Cafe and Tom Skinner's Skyline Fest. The latter two events are fundraisers for the nonprofit Red Dirt Relief Fund, which counted Flint as a loyal supporter.
"When the pandemic started, he had started to dig into video production and got very knowledgeable real quick about streaming. And he did a ton of streaming projects for all kinds of artists and organizations throughout the pandemic, including us. When we did our virtual Skinnerfest in 2020, he videoed and produced the whole thing," recalled Red Dirt Relief Fund Executive Director Katie Dale.
At this year's Gypsy Cafe songwriters festival, she said Flint managed the streaming for the same stage he played.
"He was a real go-getter. He was always drumming up a side project, and his background was in petroleum field work. So, he was just a really hard worker," Dale said. "He was also larger than life. He easily lit up a room and made tons of friends really easily. ... He would go out of his way for people, just small kindnesses. I think that's why this is such a devastating blow."
Dale said she has been in contact with Flint's family to offer condolences and financial assistance, if needed. No benefit or tribute concert has been planned at this time, but she anticipated there would be no trouble filling out the lineup if one is scheduled.
Oklahoma musicians pay homage to Red Dirt singer-songwriter
Numerous Oklahoma musicians have taken to Facebook to pay homage to Flint in the past two days.
Blake Lankford, who is part of the VIIDR - Seventh Day Rebellion songwriter group that counted Flint among its members, wrote, "If there's a heaven and they let me in, I know it'll be because you went to bat for me, Jake." Buffalo Rogers posted that "The world has a dimmer sparkle without you in it," while Travis Kidd deemed Flint "a true legend that will never be forgotten."
"I have never met a new artist that was so loved and had so many fans. It takes you years to build that — and that's what Jake had. Oh my gosh, he was adored and loved by everybody. Jake didn't have an enemy in the world. He was willing to do anything for anybody ... and he had a very good business mind. There's only one Jake Flint," said Brenda Cline, Flint's business adviser, former manager and partner on a planned business venture.
"It's a loss ... to many — and we're still just reeling in the shock and disbelief of this. We've all lost friends, we've all lost family members, it's life. But I don't think I've ever experienced such a shocking set of circumstances with losing someone and how cruel this for Brenda, his wife. To become a bride and a widow in just a few hours is unfathomable. I just can't imagine what she's going through."
Flint's wife, Brenda Wilson Flint, posted to Facebook a video clip from their wedding with the heart-rending message "I don't understand."
Hosty posted Monday his own video snippet from the wedding that captures Flint as he hopes to remember him: happily serenading his new bride.
"When I got done, we all just went out to the barn, and someone had an acoustic guitar and people were passing it around. People were just singing around the campfire ... and Jake sang to Brenda. And as he was singing, I go, 'I better record this,'" Hosty said.
"He was a great lyricist, he had a distinctive voice ... and I think he'd just want his music to be heard and his legacy to be remembered that way. And I think it will be."
This article originally appeared on Oklahoman: Oklahoma singer-songwriter Jake Flint dies just hours after wedding