It's no secret to anyone why The Edge (Z104.5 FM) is one of the most popular rock stations in Tulsa. Although KMOD has more history, when The Edge appeared in 1995, it was the first to bring a completely alt-rock format to Tulsa airwaves, and although the station has been through its ups and downs, it's back on the upswing, connecting well with its listeners and striking a balance between new music and older alt-rock standards that are now earning near-classic status.
The station has also won over the loyalty of many local music fans by continuing to be a staunch supporter of local music, primarily with its "Homegroan" show. It's always gone beyond that, however, as the station continued to support the music scene with its presence at local shows, booking local bands as opening acts for bigger radio shows when possible, and, in the past few years, even resurrecting the annual Homegroan compilation CD.
In recent months, however, The Edge has gone one step further to both support the local music scene and continue to grow its "Homegroan" brand by establishing a monthly Homegroan concert at The Vanguard to showcase local talent. This weekend, the showcase returns for its third installment with a bill that stacks up four acts that have all been building a solid following and should promise to be one of the most popular of the series to date.
This will be an interesting mixture as the show strikes a balance between pop/rock acts and more acoustic and roots-based rock. On the more folk-based side of the equation, The Edge has tapped Desi & Cody, along with the lesser known, but no less impressive, Mikey Ohlin to get the evening started. The night is then rounded out with the more straight-forward rock of FM Pilots and All About A Bubble, making for a full night of music and a well balanced bill.
DESI & CODY
I won't lie: Mikey Ohlin is the wildcard on this bill, if only because I haven't had the chance to see him live yet. Based on word on the street and a preview of the songs he's posted online, however, he could steal the show. Tracks like "Reclaimed by the Sea" and "Empty Hearts" reveal the heart of his songs revolving around straightforward acoustic arrangements, with "Empty Hearts" revealing he as a gift for melody that some of his other songs may hide between heavier arrangements. If Ohlin performs solo, I'm sure he leans more in the troubadour direction. If you catch him with a full band, however, you can expect him to be more explosive. While "The Letter Carrier" has a more expansive sound built around Ohlin's melodic sense, the grittier "Wrapped Around Her Finger" starts out in Black Keys mode before running right past it and jumping into Zeppelin territory.
Although Ohlin has been hiding out in rooms like Ole Memorial Lounge and Gypsy Coffeehouse, I expect we'll see him making the rounds and branching out into more clubs as the year progresses.
Desi & Cody should need no introduction. As staple artists on the Horton Records roster, there's an undeniable chemistry between these two. And although Cody Clinton is a great songwriter and guitarist, his songs are only made stronger by Desirae Roses, who has truly come into her own over the past two years. The only thing I'm waiting on now is a new release from this pair. I know Clinton is continually writing, so there's plenty of material out there. At this point it should just be a matter of deciding on a direction and selecting which songs fit, then hitting the studio.
If you want to hear some great songs and one of Tulsa's finest female singers, you'll want to arrive early and not miss these guys. This is a great placement for Desi & Cody, if only because it will put them in front of a different audience. Even if you're more of a rock fan, you can't deny the Desi's charisma and the strength of these songs, so make sure not to miss their set.
As the evening wears on, the tide will turn to a louder, more rock-oriented show, all while keeping the pop sensibilities intact. All About A Bubble has been playing steadily on the local scene over the past year and I finally got to catch them for the first time a few weeks ago. Guitarist/singer Dustin Storm is the primary songwriter and impetus behind this band and a couple of the tracks on the group's debut disc have followed him from his tenure in The Televised. After catching a couple of performances by this band, however, it appears that Storm has finally found the chemistry he's been looking for and his songwriting has started to grow even more.
The real secret behind this band, however, is guitarist Luke Chronister. Not only is his guitar tone the glue that holds this band together and helps define its sound, but Chronister proves to be the sounding board and songwriting partner that has helped solidify Storm's compositions. Of course, he's had a big hand in the band's sound as the group's debut disc was recorded in Chronister's home studio. It's still a little raw, but a solid debut that shows a ton of potential and if the few live shows I've seen so far are any indication, this band is still in its early stages and continuing to get better with each show, so there are high hopes for this band to much more in the future.
Finally, the bill is rounded out by a staple of the past three Homegroan compilations, FM Pilots. Last year's We Belong EP built upon the base that the band's debut EP had layed and showed a marked growth in both lead singer Nick Whitaker's songwriting and the chemistry of his partnership with bassist Blake Jarman. The group has been steadily building a following and picking up regional gigs on its way to building a buzz outside of Tulsa.
It's been a while since I've had the opportunity to catch these guys live, but another year's worth of shows have undoubtedly added to their live performances and solidified their chops. The only question now is when will we hear some more songs and what direction will the band go? Although Whitaker's rock tunes are solid and play well towards what stations like The Edge put on the air, he's got a strong pop sense and the best of the songs off of We Belong revealed an affinity for material that has more in common with songwriters like Matt Nathanson, which could give the band a distinct edge with the college and female audience. Here's to hoping this weekend's show will give a preview of a couple new songs and an indication of what's next for the band.
If you're looking for a great indicator of what's going on locally right now, The Edge has a good grasp on it with the Homegroan showcase this Saturday night, Feb. 9. Doors open at The Vanguard at 7pm and the show starts at 8pm, with a $5 cover at the door.
Bring the Buzz
Although The Edge has been good about supporting local music, that's not its primary focus. Fortunately, the station has continued to try and expose Tulsa to new music and break new bands, even outside of standard playlists. Every once in a while, the station even pulls a little magic out its hip pocket with a band that has bottled lightning.
This Thursday night, Feb. 7, The Edge celebrates its 18th Birthday with a special show at The Vanguard with a pair of acts that are just starting to break nationally. Churchill just dropped its new EP, Change, in October, but the buzz has been growing quickly. Once you dig in, it's something of a mixed bag, but lead single and title track "Change" is blowing up, thanks to placement as the iTunes free single of the week at the end of last year, a new video that's picking up traction online, and a heavy touring schedule.
It just so happens that The Edge was able to snag a club date on this tour and put the band in The Vanguard for a special, intimate show. Adding to the buzz, the station also managed to capture Willy Moon. No, I'll admit I don't know him either, but I couldn't escape his single either. As if Apple really needs an advertising campaign for the iPod anymore, the commercials always seem to capture a certain lightning and this time it's Willy Moon's infectious "Yeah Yeah" providing the inescapable hook for the latest iPod commercial.
Yeah, that's right: two hot buzz bands of the moment on one bill -- and just to keep things interesting and the local theme alive, The Edge has added local act The Lonelys to the bill to open the show. It's a free show and doors open at 7pm, but there's one catch: You have to have a ticket and The Edge has been giving them away on air over the past week and a half. If you don't have yours yet, make sure to listen to The Edge to try and win in the last couple days before the show. Rumor has it the station has just a few left and will add a couple more lucky winners on the day of the show.
Congratulations and fond farewells
In last minute news, word has it that Edge Promotions Director Ryan Giles will be leaving us shortly as he recently accepted a position in the Twin Cities to return to his native home. We'll certainly miss him as he's been key in putting together shows like the Ugly Christmas Sweater Concert and Brady Block Party. That makes this Churchill/Willy Moon show even more apropos as he says farewell to T-Town, but you can rest assured he'll be doing even bigger things in his new home. Good luck, sir!
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