OK, I gave everyone a heads up in my column last week, but the show is upon us. Any new-breed Texas/Red Dirt fans out there had better be ready to start the weekend early at the Cain's. The Randy Rogers Band will be the headliner, with local favorite Brandon Jenkins opening, for an Oklahoma-Texas showdown of sorts at the Ballroom on Thurs., Jan. 25.
Don't show up expecting fisticuffs, though. This will be more of a showcase of the latest hot-shots from Texas and Oklahoma. If you're a fan of Ragweed, Boland or McClure you should already be familiar with both acts on the bill and know that you can't go wrong.
The Rising Star
Admittedly, Randy Rogers Band isn't as well known in Tulsa as many Texas/Red Dirt acts. Anyone following the scene, though, knows that they're one of the main bands to watch right now.
Consider Randy Rogers Band (RRB) the country counterpart to Cross Canadian Ragweed's rock'n'roll soul. Whereas Cody (Canada) once told me "We ain't no country band...", Randy recently said that he considers his group "...way more country than anything else."
Both bands deliver their brand of music in a similar manner: Ragweed as a rock band tempered by Oklahoma and country roots and RRB as a country band with a rock'n'roll attitude. The two bands are incredibly complementary, running in similar circles, and have even toured together. (RRB's first experience at the Cain's actually came as an opener for Ragweed.)
While it's cool that RRB's latest CD (and major label debut), Just A Matter Of Time, landed on the Billboard country Album charts at #8 during its first week of release that's just the middle of the band's ascent.
After leaping into the Texas music scene with Live at Cheatham Street Warehouse, the band released its first studio album, Like It Used To Be, in 2002.
The band really turned a corner and took off, however, after the 2004 release of Rollercoaster.
A big part of the band's transition with that disc can be traced back to its association with Radney Foster, who produced Rollercoaster and shared a few songwriting credits on the album, as did Cody Canada, Wade Bowen and Kent Finlay.
"Working with Radney was instrumental on a number of levels" says Rogers. "First, his name alone gives it (the album) merit..."
The second part, says Rogers, was "...as a band, we were raw talent and emotion and very sincere, but we didn't know how to channel it. We knew what we wanted to do, but we didn't know how to do it."
That's where Foster stepped in. By offering his experience, he helped Rogers and the rest of the band focus and create a great record without leaving his own fingerprints or sound all over it.
According to Rogers, "That speaks volumes about him -- his character and desire to give back to the music community."
Rollercoaster ended up being an apt title, for the album took the band on one heck of a ride: cruising to the top of the Texas music charts, landing a rave review in USA Today, even crossing over to land two singles on the Billboard Top 50 Singles chart.
It was only a matter of time before the major labels came calling and RRB eventually settled in at Nashville label Mercury Records.
Released Sept. 12, Just a Matter of Time quickly hit on the country album charts, but "Kiss Me in the Dark" (the first single -- co-penned with Foster), fell shy of the label's initial expectations.
When asked about the new CD's success so far, Rogers offered up "I think it's right on track for where we thought it would be; we didn't really expect to top the charts right off the bat."
"We want to build to a slow burn and establish a (long) career", he continues. "So the fact that the single didn't go Top 10, or even Top 20, doesn't faze us."
Of course, Rogers had already addressed the radio issue earlier in our conversation when he acknowledged that in order for the band to find a place on the airwaves, "...radio will have to open its doors more than it has. It's definitely an interesting time right now for a country act that's a little left of center."
Rogers also observed that as a "baby act" on a major label, the group has a lot more to offer than many new acts. "We've already got a complete business model (including touring and merchandising) in place and we're already moving down the highway.
"We don't necessarily need as big of a push as some of the other acts. ... But don't get me wrong -- I'm not saying I don't want that!"
Either way, RRB is already making some serious inroads to the mainstream country market. The band recently spent Oct. 1--Dec. 8 on its first-cross country tour with Dierks Bentley and Miranda Lambert.
"That was a really great way to end '06 and kick off '07" says Rogers. "Miranda is kind of 'pissed-off girl country' and we're 'pissed-off guy country', so it worked out well. All of the bands are excited about music and changing music and the fans got that. We're just thankful to Dierks for taking us out..."
Now out on the road headlining its own tour, Randy Rogers Band is looking forward to establishing itself in Tulsa. "It's an honor to get to headline Cain's" says Rogers. "To us, it's one of the most famous halls in the country."
When asking what fans should expect from the live show, Rogers answered, "If you've heard our record, what you see (or hear) is what you get. There shouldn't be any surprises. Just come out and plan on having a good time."
Sand Springs native Brandon Jenkins will be opening the RRB show, which makes it an even better night for music fans. Just in case it's not special enough to see Brandon on the big stage, the night effectively serves as the Tulsa CD release party for his latest disc, VII.
The Tulsa roll-out was originally scheduled for this past November 30, but the first winter storm of the season saw the date get snowed out. Gratefully, the weather has broken and begun to thaw so we don't have to miss out again on Brandon's second attempt.
"Why Did We Ever Say Goodbye" has already climbed to #6 on the Texas Music charts and the new disc continues to gain momentum. While not as dark as his last CD, VII continues forward from where Down In Flames left off.
You can expect a little friendly rivalry tonight as Jenkins enjoys a home field advantage and Randy Rogers Band starts building its own history at Cain's as a home away from home.
Fans of either band, not to mention Ragweed devotees, won't be let down by this show. Tickets are $13 at the door and the show starts at 8pm. I'll see you there.
If you're looking to blow off some mid-week steam and need a good hardcore show, First Blood (led by former Terror bassist, Carl Schwartz) will be headlining The Pinkeye Thurs., Dec. 25 as well. If you're a Terror fan you'll want to check this one out.
Bloodlined Calligraphy, Death Before Dishonor, Dead Hearts, Every Man For Himself and While I Breathe will open the show. Tickets are $12 at the door and the show starts at 6pm.
There are lots of options around town this weekend so I'll just mention a few highlights and suggest that you check up on your favorite band or bar if nothing here suits your taste.
On Fri., Jan. 26, The Hive hosts its first rock show of the year with Plague of Prophets, Eighty Proof, Down with Five and Sixes. Cover is $7 and the show starts at 8pm.
Elsewhere around town on Friday: Eleven Hundred Springs rule the Mercury Lounge, Starkweather Boys play The Continental, and The University is at The Pinkeye.
Saturday night will have local rock fans split between clubs. Those preferring ambient and indie-rock will want to be at Boston's for Soular with The Hero Factor and a $5 cover. Straight-up rock'n'roll fans will prefer The Otherside, where Upside and MWK split the bill. Central Tragedy, Optimistic to a Fault and Impact 28 open the show, which starts at 7pm, and admission is only $7.
Also on Saturday, "Waka Winter Classic" takes over the Cain's Ballroom. WWC has Adam Lopez, Citizen Mundi, Harmonious Monk and others facing off in a battle of the bands to win a slot at this summer's Wakarusa Festival and admission is only $6 at the door.
In a different vein, another really cool show this weekend will be The Weary Boys gig at Mercury Lounge on Saturday. The Weary Boys are an eclectic blend of country, bluegrass, and '50's rock that stands out as its own. These guys have put out five CDs in as many years and held down a standing Tuesday night gig at Austin's Continental Club for a year and a half before their touring schedule took them out of Texas for extended runs.
I caught up with founding member Darren Hood last week and when I asked him how he would describe the group's sound, he explained that the band doesn't really fit into the Americana, rockabilly, or even-honky-tonk genres, but skirts between them all.
"We have all the same influences as early rock'n'roll; bluegrass, country, blues, and Cajun" said Hood. "When we stirred it up, though, it just didn't come out the same." Even so, it all ends up making a stew that defies description, making for a fun live show.
The Mercury gig actually promises to be an interesting affair since founding member Mario Matteoli just announced his immediate departure from the band to embark on a solo career. The band already has talked to a few potential replacements, but will be performing as a four-piece for the time being, giving Tulsa an even leaner, meaner show.
Oklahoma City's funk-rock drums and organ duo, Sugar Free All-Stars, will also be on Saturday's bill.
The All-Stars have a new CD, Return of Dos Machos!, coming out in February so check them out now for a preview.
On Sunday, Jan. 28, the guys at Doom Rocket Productions are welcoming Vito Ninefingers home in the middle of their current regional tour for a show at The Pinkeye. Eyes Set To Kill, Ever Since Tomorrow, Donatello's Secret, Take 'Em Down Lad and Fighting Chance complete the bill. The show starts at 6pm and cover is $8 at the door.
On Tues., Jan. 30, dark-wave/goth/electronica band Cruxshadows is in concert at Liquidz. DJ Jessy James and DJ 950 will be spinning tunes throughout the night and Aryia and Ego Likeness will also be on the bill.
If you remember the glory days of IKON, you'll be willing to work through the hangover on Wednesday. Advance tickets are available for $10 in advance at the Mercury Lounge or Tulsa Eagle (Thursdays only) or $13 at the door, which opens at 8pm.
The following night Lindsey Buckingham is at The Brady Theater on Wed., Jan. 31. Tickets are $25, $35, and $45. If you're running low on cash, classic rock station KJSR is sponsoring the show, so you set your radio to STAR103.3 and listen to win tickets.
Finally, Senses Fail will be at The Cain's on Wed. with Saosin, Alexisonfire and Drop Dead Gorgeous. Initially, I cringed at the thought of yet another emo-tour, but the new Senses Fail disc, Still Searching, is actually pretty good so this one might be worth checking out. If nothing else, the emo-kids will love it. Tickets are $20.75 in advance and $24.25 at the door.
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