Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus! As a matter of fact, for fans of classic Tulsa thrash-punk, he's coming to town three days early and leaving us full of cheer (and beer) with the reunion of one of Tulsa's near-legendary bands, Pit Bulls on Crack.
In actuality, it's not just a reunion for PBOC, but for Bozak and Black Wednesday as well, all of whom made a big stir in Tulsa's club scene in the '90's. For those who remember and may have been fans of any (or all) of these bands, this will be a can't-miss show.
For those of us who have heard of them, but missed them at their peak, it's the chance to finally get to witness their wreckage.
The Myth and the Reality
It seems like no matter where you go, people have heard of Pit Bulls on Crack. Dallas? Check. Chicago? Check. New York? Check. L.A., Seattle, Denver, Indianapolis and Atlanta? Mark 'em all down. Even if people haven't actually seen or heard the band, they've heard of them.
So what's up with that? Maybe there have been multiple bands try and take the name, maybe it's just a name that sticks in your head, or maybe tales of the band's high energy live show and wicked sense of humor have spread far and wide. Perhaps all of the above.
Whatever the case, the real Pit Bulls on Crack formed right here in Tulsa, rising out of the ashes of Tulsa Skate Crew (a skate-punk band--go figure). The band originally came together in 1989 and went through a couple of quick line-up changes, including swapping out the drummer and lead singer, before settling into the primary line-up that many consider to be "classic" PBOC, circa 1990-1993.
The group went through a few more gyrations before finally hanging it up in 1996; but even then, Larry Shaeffer called them back into action for one final show, opening for the inimitable Suicidal Tendencies, before it could all be laid to rest for good.
No doubt the band's reputation grew incredibly based on a tight live show that nodded to the old-school hardcore scene and the ability to keep tongue planted firmly in cheek with the otherwise unexpected, metal covers of completely unrelated bands like Lynyrd Skynyrd, Public Enemy, and Neil Young, amongst others.
Perhaps the name spread most rapidly, however, when Steven Tyler, whose ex-wife is from Tulsa, appeared frequently in photo shoots wearing a Pit Bulls on Crack t-shirt. When asking if this was indeed the same band, my suspicions were verified repeatedly from sources as diverse as Diabolical Productions' Davit Souders and even bassist Terry Waska, who was in the band for two and a half years, from 1991 to 1993.
"I remember going into Starship Records one day and picking up a copy of Kerrang (the metal fanzine from the UK)", Waska told me. "Steven Tyler was on the cover wearing a Pit Bulls t-shirt and the headline read: 'We are Pit Bulls on Crack'. I saw it and thought: Great, now we need to hit it big so we can get on the cover of a magazine and say 'We are Aerosmith!'"
While PBOC may never have landed on the cover of Rolling Stone or even Hit Parader, they nevertheless left a lasting impression on Tulsa's hard rock scene. The legend of the Pit Bulls has only grown over the years.
Keep it in the family
Even as the group morphed over the years, the band always pulled the new guys from the same large circle of friends. As a result, while the membership (and consequently, the overall sound and style) did evolve over the course of the band's history, there was rarely any animosity between current and former Pit Bulls. In fact, many of the members have continued to stay in touch and a few have even become relatives. As Waska laughingly put it: "The outlaws have become in-laws."
This weekend, PBOC returns for a show at The Otherside with the classic, 92-93 line-up in tact: Steve Ray on vocals, "Heavy" Trev and Andy Williams on guitars, and Terry Waska on bass. Unfortunately, Danny Dodge could not make it back to Tulsa for the show, so the band is carrying on with their former drummer's blessing and Derek Sanders (formerly of Asylum and Gutwrench) behind the kit.
While PBOC is definitely the main attraction, they won't be the only Tulsa classic attacking the stage. Bozak will be returning to the T-town spotlight as well with original members Dave Cantrell on vocals, Brian Simmons on guitar and Waska on bass.
Unfortunately, Tribe of Souls (the remainder of Bozak without Cantrell) recently split up so a full-on reunion will be narrowly missed and Charles Butler's position will be filled by Jesse Neri for the evening.
Also on the bill is Black Wednesday, featuring Erv Felker -- Tulsa's bad-ass Marine/guitarist. Black Wednesday was one of the busiest bands in town back in its heyday, but played its last show 10 years ago. Felker recently revived the group and went into the studio this past summer to record a 5-track EP. As a veteran of Diffuser and DDS as well, Erv's got his own storied history on the Tulsa hard-rock scene.
Finally, the only "newbie" on the evening's bill is Woebegone. This will be the band's official debut, but these guys are no strangers to Tulsa clubs. The band is essentially built around the core players (Mike, Syxxx and JoJo) from hard-rock act THiQ, with a new singer (Eric), and Pat Devlin (PBOC's official "beverage tech") playing bass. Talk about tight circles: even the young guns have ties to the Pit Bulls.
What, Where, and When
Now that I've rambled on an on about the Pit Bulls and all of their cronies taking the stage for a one night reunion blowout, I'm sure you want the dirty details. This is where it gets easy.
The big show is this Fri., Dec. 22, at The Otherside (69th and Lewis). Cover is $8 and the doors open at 7pm for an all-ages show featuring Woebegone, Black Friday, Bozak, and the infamous Pit Bulls on Crack. I expect there to be a better crowd than the band anticipates as all of younger music fans who never got to witness the chaos show up next to all of the band's old fans and friends.
And just in case you want to catch the moment on film, video and still cameras are encouraged -- provided you're willing to share. The band will be pulling a soundboard recording from the show and hopes to put together a fan-shot video of the concert for future release.
It may have been ten years since the band played a big show like this, but all of the members are taking it seriously as they look forward to having some fun and not letting their fans down.
Waska assured me that the band is "living up to the hype" and I'll take his word for it. Don't miss your opportunity to relive PBOC -- you never know when (or if) the opportunity will present itself again.
Making the rounds
If you need a good guitar fix to get through the holiday weekend, there's no need to wait. You can head out tonight (Thurs., Dec. 21) and get a double dose down at the corner of 18th and Boston. Dustin Pittsley will be burning up Boston's with his killer licks, backed by his smoking hot band that includes his right-hand man, Jesse Aycock.
Everyone knows that Dustin's a guitar slinging badass by now. The only question left is how long has it been since he cleaned your clock?
Right across the street, Dale Watson will be stopping in at the Mercury Lounge tonight as well. He's making the trek back home to Texas after a week up north and making an overdue visit in T-Town on the way.
Somehow Watson got straddled with an alt-country label, but I just don't see it: classic outlaw country is more like it. If we could get rid of all the processed, Velveeta country bands, we'd be better off to have Watson left as one of the last men standing. He's a top-notch six stringer to boot, so you can take in the show, then hop across the street and catch part of Dustin's set to get a double dose of guitar. The cover at Mercury Lounge will be $10 and worth every penny.
On Fri., Dec. 22, The Doom Rocket Christmas Jamboree is being held at The Pinkeye. John Moreland and the Black Gold Band, Four Letter Lie, The Natural State, Scales of Motion, Dixxie Hawk and Luciano Outfit are sharing the bill and it looks to be a great show for anyone looking to throw down with some of the area's younger bands. Admission is $8 with doors open at 6pm and the show starting at 6:30pm
Meanwhile, down on 1st St., The Continental will be hosting the best indie-ambient show of the weekend with Red Book Audio, The Doldrums, Omelas, & Me, and Drop Logik. Cover is only $5 at the door and the music will be going until closing time, so plan on relaxing and settling into the grooves.
While most of the city will be Saturday night with church and family things, the music continues with smaller, but nonetheless great shows in the downtown area including the Brandon Clark Band at Dirty's Tavern ($5 at the door) and Pacemaker with The Blue Vanguard at Soundpony, where there's never a cover.
Mercury Lounge will be hosting one heck of a party Saturday with Stevedore, Elliot the Letter Ostrich, Math Lab and Tulsa's best goth-rockers, The Secret Post. The show starts at 9pm and cover is only $5.
Another show that almost slid in under the radar is The Redbud Revival at the Blue Dome Roadhouse on December 23. Fans of alt-country and roots rock would do well to stop in and check this show out as Luke Dick (an Oklahoma boy) and his band lay down some serious blues and twang. Cover is only $5 and the music starts at 9pm.
Also on Sat., Dec. 23, the "Tulsa Winter Music Experience" is invading Bob's (the Cain's side stage) from 6:30pm -- 2:00am. It will be a full night of jazz, funk, world-beat, and whatever else you want to call it with Rewake, Mezclave, Bunny Bunny Trio (featuring Sean Al-Jibouri from Harmonious Monk), Josh Raymer and Paul Benjamin Quartet. Doors open at 6:30 and admission is $10. This is a great show to get your last big Christmas Jam in.
Afterwards, the calendar is pretty quiet for Christmas Day, but make sure to check the Urban Tulsa events calendar to see who else will be out and about when you're ready for a break.
Don't overdo it, though. New Year's Eve threatens to turn into 3 nights with an extended New Year's weekend on the horizon. We'll have more details on the biggest New Year's shows and parties next week.
Until then, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. Tip your bartenders extra well and spread the Christmas cheer!
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