It seems that every year the South by Southwest music festival and conference grows ever larger. More bands, more people, more to see, more to hear -- whatever you can think of, it's growing. After missing a couple of years for personal reasons, I found myself wondering if I had lost perspective when I returned in 2011 as I was nearly overwhelmed by the size and scope of it all. By Saturday afternoon, I knew it wasn't just me as I picked up a copy of the daily newspaper and saw a report that stated attendance had increased by roughly fifty percent year over year for the past three years and was projected to keep growing at a rate nearly as rapid.
With a growth in audience, there's also a growth in the events and activities. Any city with a healthy and active music community is growing its presence in Austin as well. It should come as no surprise, then, that Oklahoma (and Tulsa) is represented better than ever this year with the vast majority of our talent encapsulated in a pair of showcases. Together, the two groups involved are giving Oklahoma a huge push in Austin this year, which will hopefully benefit our bands with some new opportunities and continue to feed and already growing music scene.
Get Your Jive On
The relative newcomer in the Oklahoma fold is Jivewired America. The organization has been around for a few years, running an online radio station and website dedicated to maintaining online press kits and one sheets for bands as well as providing a listing of licensing opportunities and festival submissions for bands. Over the past year, however, Jivewired has taken a particular interest in Oklahoma artists, having visited FreeTulsa to take in the music scene and connect with a number of artists here.
In fact, Jivewired has been so impressed by Oklahoma acts that when it holds its all-day showcase in Austin on Thursday of next week, seven of the sixteen artists on the bill will be representing Oklahoma. Perhaps more interesting is the fact that five of those acts are part of what is currently known as the "New Tulsa Sound," as Jesse Aycock Band, Pilgrim, Wink Burcham, Paul Benjaman Band and Dustin Pittsley Band will all perform throughout the course of the day and evening. Also representing Tulsa's pop/rock scene is David Castro Band, while Norman's indie-rock movement is represented by The Nghiems.
The rest of the lineup is built around bands from various locations across the US, which gives you a good idea of just how concentrated our local talent pool is, if we're dominating nearly half of the showcase. Music starts at noon on Thursday and the showcase does not require a SXSW badge, so if you're in Austin next week, even to check out the periphery, make sure to stop in and support your local musicians while taking in everyone else. Jivewired America will be taking up residence at The 311 Club (311 E. 6th St.), making it easy to find and represent Oklahoma's music fans as well as its bands.
Three years ago, the Oklahoma Film and Music Office founded the Buffalo Lounge to showcase Oklahoma talent and draw attention to the state's film, music and interactive industries and create a presence for our state at the SXSW festival. In 2010, it started out small, with a showcase that featured eight Oklahoma artists in one evening. Since then, the organization's presence has grown, expanding to two, then three days of events as well as setting up shop with a booth in the SXSW exhibit hall and trade show.
Over the past few years, the Buffalo Lounge was hosted at Friends, but moves to a larger location this year at The 512 (located at 408 E. 6th St.), giving the Lounge two floors and two separate stages which will be rocking for three days with parties in the afternoon and official showcases (which will require a SXSW badge) in the evenings.
Things kick off early on Tuesday as the "Oklahoma Soundcheck" features a cross-section of bands from all over the state. Of particular note for Tulsans will be appearances by The Admirals, Skating Polly, Modern Rock Diaries and Taddy Porter on the Wormy Dog Saloon Stage (upstairs) and Paul Benjaman Band, Mark Gibson and Beau Jennings on the "Preferred Ticketing Stage" downstairs on Tuesday, March 12 between 12-5pm. Tuesday evening's official showcase on the ACM @ UCO stage spotlights Oklahoma City acts and will include appearances by Colourmusic and Stardeath & the White Dwarfs as the highlights of the night.
Tulsa gets its best representation Wednesday afternoon on the downstairs OK Pop/Woody Guthrie Archives stage with Susan Herndon, Desi & Cody, The Bourgeois, Dustin Pittsley Band, We the Ghost, Guardant, The Del Toros and Josh Sallee filling the bill between 12-5pm. Meanwhile, the upstairs ACM @ UCO stage again focuses on Oklahoma City artists including Blake Fischer, The Kamals and The Lower 40 during the afternoon as music alternates between the two stages.
The big guns come out on Wednesday night for the official SXSW Oklahoma showcase with some of our best and most promising artists taking to the upstairs stage, beginning at 6pm with Broncho, followed by Samantha Crain, Defining Times, OK Sweetheart (featuring Erin Austin), Parker Millsap and Zach Winters. This one will again require a SXSW badge for entry, but will give the best representation of the cross-section of talent we have flowing from Oklahoma right now. Broncho has already created a buzz at SXSW in years past and should draw a crowd in early with its explosive punk rock set. Likewise, Defining Times proved to be one of my favorite Oklahoma acts at SXSW last year, bringing a reflective and poignant take on the current indie rock scene. OK Sweetheart gives the evening a great pop artist to balance things out, but our state's affinity for turning out great singer-songwriters will be best showcased as Samantha Crain, Parker Millsap and Zach Winters round things out.
Of course, this is just during the music portion of the SXSW. The week's festivities begin this Saturday, March 9 with the film festival and interactive conference and the Buffalo Lounge will be busy on Monday, March 11 as well with a focus on those industries, hosting the "Red Dirt Reel" film party on Monday afternoon and the Interactive Oklahoma and Elevator Pitch Competition on Monday evening, with a $10,000 prize for the best elevator pitch -- which could provide a great little pocket of start-up capital for a new Oklahoma based interactive company or filmmaker.
If you're planning on being in Austin next week, make sure and stop in to check these showcases out. Even if you don't have an official badge, you can check out the day parties to support our artists and grab a free lunch while you're at it, then move on to catch more with bands from across the country.
When looking at the package as a whole and how much our presence has grown in Austin over the past ten years, you've got to be proud of Oklahoma and what our musicians are doing as they make their presence known even more each year.
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Even though many of our bands (and music fans) are looking forward to heading south to Austin next week, that doesn't mean we don't have plenty to get excited about here in Tulsa. It's another busy week with local shows, major tours and outside artists rolling through town on their way to SXSW. There's too much going on to list it all here, but here are the highlights for a weekend packed with music.
Thursday, March 7
Cain's Ballroom is on the middle of a nine day run of shows that hits on every genre. Thursday hits jam bands and electronic music as STS9 headlines with Cherub opening the show. If you're into hip-hop don't miss one of Tulsa's biggest showcases for the genre this month as Jabee, Verse, The Brothers Brown, Steph Simon, Dr. Freeman and Stop the New Jim Crow come together at The Vanguard. And if you're looking for great music benefitting a great cause, don't miss the benefit for Tulsa DVIS (Domestic Violence Intervention Services) at Phoenix Café with Chelsea Trevino, Kristen Hemphill, Rachel LaVonne, Julie Holzbauer and Fiawna Forte.
Friday, March 8
Cain's Ballroom marches on with iconic singer songwriter James Earl Keen while The Joint hosts Darius Rucker and Mercury Lounge welcomes Dirty River Boys for a show that will likely sell out. If you're looking for your rock fix, stop in at Vanguard for Psychostick with SpookyFruit.
Saturday, March 9
The big showcase of the night is the annual Winter Jam tour, which stops at BOK Center with Toby Mac, Red, Matthew West, Newsong, Jamie Grace, Sidewalk Prophets and more, beginning at 6pm. It's great night for all types of music as Damn Quails return to Mercury Lounge with Camille Harp, John Moreland plays Phoenix Café and The Vanguard hosts The Rocketboys with Mike Mains & the Branches, Dinner & a Suit, Defining Times and After Midnight.
Sunday, March 10
Rock fans and blues fans alike win big tonight with a pair of killer shows. Blues fans will be remiss to miss out on Eric Sardinas at The Vanguard in what will be an amazing show. Meanwhile, rock fans can rejoice in one of the biggest arena tours of the year and best live rock bands on the road as Muse arrives at BOK Center with Dead Sara opening the night. Afterwards, stop in for a nightcap at Hunt Club with Foreign Home, Motive for Movement and Slam Donahue for an unofficial after party.
Monday, March 11
Cain's Ballroom rolls along with the long-awaited return of Tegan & Sara to start your week.
Tuesday, March 12
This is the night to get your hard rock fix as Clutch plays Cain's Ballroom with Orange Goblin, Lionize and Kyng, and The Vanguard hosts its big rock show with 10 Years, Young Guns, Lost Element and Beneath.
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