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100 years of Cain's with co-owner Chad Rodgers

Tulsa Historical Society and Museum

You can’t have a conversation about music in Tulsa without Cain’s Ballroom, now in its one hundredth year of operation. This historic venue speaks for itself: its maple floors beg to be danced upon and its warm red lights invite you to settle in.

The Home of Bob Wills and the nurturing ground of western swing, Cain’s has seen its fair share of preeminent and boisterous talent — including Texas Playboys, Sex Pistols and Hank Williams. Still today, a show at Cain's holds great promise from rising artists to Tulsa favorites.

Public Radio Tulsa's Julianne Tran interviewed Chad Rodgers, General Manager and co-owner of Cain’s Ballroom, about the venue's centennial. His family has owned and managed the historic venue since 2002. 

JT: One hundred years means it has taken a lot of love, resources, and care to keep this venue open. What projects and improvements were necessary throughout the years? 

CR: When we bought Cain's in September of 2002, we knew we had a huge project in front of us. So we shut down operations in May 2003 and began working — adding central heat/air, new sound & lighting, a fire sprinkler system and a small mezzanine area; replacing the roof and pulling out the drop down ceiling; replacing all the building’s electrical and plumbing; installing all new bathrooms in the side room and redoing the bar/concession area. It was a huge project that we knocked out by October 1, 2003, when we held our first show back with Dwight Yoakam, which sold out. 

JT: I imagine there are many spots and markings in Cain’s that have some history. Can you tell me about some of them? 

CR: In our office we have the framed hole in the wall that Sid Vicious punched when Sex Pistols played Cain's Ballroom back on January 11, 1978. We also found many 10 cent tickets [during our 2003 restoration] from when Cain's was a dime-a-dance joint back in the late 30s and 40s. In our office, we had a guitar made out of the original Cain's Ballroom wood floor, which we had to replace back in 2007. The guitar works and we've even had a few artists play the guitar on stage during their Cain's show. 

JT: What are some memorable moments from your time managing Cain’s? 

CR: In no particular order...

  • Zach Bryan's headlining shows here on 11/18/21 and 11/19/21
  • Green Day performing here on 7/20/21
  • Turnpike Troubadours playing Cain's Ballroom as their first public performance back on 4/8/22 and 4/9/22 after the band's hiatus
  • J.J. Cale returning to Tulsa and performing at the Cain's Ballroom on his last tour on 7/5/04
  • Jack White's first show at Cain's Ballroom with The Dead Weather on 4/22/10
  • Bob Dylan headlining the Cain's Ballroom on 2/28/04
This story was originally shared in PRT's arts-and-culture newsletter Our Town. Beloved establishments, exciting events, and all the places and things that make this city ours — right in your inbox. SUBSCRIBE HERE.

Julianne joined Public Radio Tulsa in June 2022 as Development Associate. She wear many hats at the station — connecting with listeners, writing PRT's newsletters, planning events and doing digital behind-the-scenes.