From Uptown to Downtown, D-Fest makes the big move for attention and visibility as it continues to shake up the music establishment, delivering it's own vibe.
The festival will not be held in the Blue Dome District, but the big news is the headliners--a genuine stroke of genius, and proved that it's serious about making this year's festival the best ever.
So who's on board? A line-up with our own international avante-jazz super-heroes Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey, Americana-pop act Limbeck, singer-songwriter Kevin Welch, and Tulsa legend Leon Russell should provide enough of a cross-section to remind everyone that the "D" in DFest stands for diversity, but that's not all.
The big news, however, was confirmation of rumors that have been floating around for a couple of months now. Yes, it's true: The Flaming Lips will finally be returning to Tulsa as the featured headliner at this summer's DFest.
Don't come expecting an abbreviated performance, either. I've got good information that the Lips will be bringing their full show, including Wayne's long planned "space ship" staging that finally made its debut at the OKC show last September.
Band submissions are still being accepted until April 3 for the music festival that will feature 130 acts and 20 different genres of music at eleven separate venues and two outdoor stages over two nights.
Mayor Kathy Taylor actually attended the press conference and spoke briefly and I must say: it's good to see someone in power actually "get it" (after all these years of UTW touting and building up the local music scene) to understand the kind of impact a festival like this could have on the city.
Statistics say that SXSW has an economic impact of approximately $37 million on the city of Austin. We're a long way off from those kinds of numbers, especially until our downtown gets the proper types of infrastructure (hotels, etc) in place to handle a huge influx of people and business.
Mayor Taylor did say, however, that as we look forward to a revival of our downtown, she believes that DFest will help push that revival forward at an unparalleled pace. While I think that it's definitely possible, it's really going to depend on the how the club owners choose to look at the weekend.
If the participating clubs only view it as an opportunity to potentially cash out with big sales over the weekend, that's all it will be to downtown. If they look at it as an opportunity to establish or re-establish a presence and really create a new "club district" in the downtown area, they could use it as the stepping stone to breath new life into otherwise relatively new clubs like the Blank Slate on a year-round basis.
This is only the beginning. There are still another 125 performers left to be announced and while I doubt any of them will be able to trump the Flaming Lips, I'm sure there are still plenty of very cool acts yet to be added to the bill. Whenever the next announcement arrives, you can be sure I'll have the details for you, right here in UTW.
Heading down to Austin
Yes, SXSW is right around the corner and I'm just itching to hit the road for my annual pilgrimage to the big music Mecca south of the Red River. While I haven't seen a whole lot of Tulsa bands listed on the South By schedule yet, I know that there are a few (like afterEIGHT and The Effects) that will be making the trip to show what they can do at the daytime showcases.
Another local artist that's making the trip South in hopes of stealing some of the spotlight is Adam Lopez. Lopez will be a great representative of Tulsa as he isn't bound by genre and doesn't fit any stereotypes. Live, Adam mixes a little rock, funk, reggae, jazz, soul and blues then lets the evening's vibe carry the music wherever it wants to go -- something Austin music fans should be able to appreciate.
Lopez and his band, which includes drummer Brandon Holder and bassist Sean Ammons, have secured a 5pm slot on Friday afternoon at The Chuggin' Monkey. If any of you get down to Austin for the festival, make sure and stop in to show your support.
Even if you aren't making the trip down to Austin next week, however, you can still support the band and its little road trip. How, you ask? It's quite simple, really.
The Adam Lopez Band will be playing a little "warm up" show at 8OneEight Martini Lounge this Saturday night, March 10, to help shake off any rust from the winter and jump start the group for its Austin showcase. You just need to show up to cheer the guys on and pick up some merch to help them finance their trip down and back.
Actually, Adam plans on doing a free CD giveaway for everyone in attendance on Saturday and will be accepting donations to help the group pay for its trip to SXSW. If you're out and about, stop in at 818 to check out the show, pick up a CD, and chip in some gas money to help the Adam Lopez Band get down to Austin and do Tulsa proud.
If you've been looking for something a little different: smart, classy pop music with hints of jazz and world music, then you need to go out of your way to stop in and listen to Sharla Pember this week.
Sharla's no stranger to the Tulsa stage as she actually spent some time playing around town with her sister as part of the vocal duo Eden before they laid that project to rest a few years ago.
Since then, Pember has studied music at TU and started finding her way as a solo artist, incorporating a wide range of personal influences: from her classical violin training and jazz studies to Middle Eastern and Asian phrasings to classic pop songwriters like Carly Simon and Paula Cole.
Sharla has recently gotten back out on the local scene, playing intimate shows in rooms like Vintage 1740 and Lola's at the Bowery and drawing rave reviews. In fact, I was actually tipped off to Sharla by Brian Haas and Reed Mathis, both of which had great things to say about her.
Sharla will be playing at Lola's twice this week, once on Saturday night, March 10, and again on Wednesday night, March 14. I've got the inside scoop, though, and can all but guarantee that the show next Wednesday evening is the one you'll want to see.
Why next Wednesday? That's when Jason Smart, from Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey, will be sitting in on drums next to Al "Ray" Hebert on bass while Sharla carries the vocals and violin. And how often do you find someone talented enough to play violin and sing harmonies with it at the same time? That's what I thought.
Let's face it, Wednesday nights are great for chilling out and relaxing. If it's already been a long week, you probably need something to sooth your soul and ease you into the weekend and Pember's cool melodies are just what the doctor ordered. Don't forget: Next Wednesday evening, March 14, at Lola's at the Bowery with Jason Smart sitting in. You can thank me later.
The rest of the highlights
As is always the case around SXSW, Tulsa clubs and venues are busy this week hosting not only local acts, but also a stack of bands stopping by on their way down to Austin, giving us a little preview of the festival to our south. Add the usual national tours that swing through T-Town on a weekly basis and we've got a full calendar over the next week or two. Obviously, I can't get to everything, so I'll hit the highlights and leave you to scan the events calendar to find your favorites.
The Cain's Ballroom will be packed out both Thursday and Friday nights with back to back sold out shows. Tonight (Thursday, March 8) sees the return if Snow Patrol with OK Go and Silversun Pickups, then Friday night, March 9, Lamb of God, Machinehead, Trivium and Gojira set out to wreck the Ballroom with one of the heaviest shows we've seen in town for quite a while.
If you were planning on hitting either show and haven't gotten tickets yet you can try your luck with the scalpers, but I wouldn't hold my breath. Both of these headliners have a pretty faithful following.
Friday night's most impressive show, however, may be one that has snuck up on us quietly. Spirit 102.3FM is sponsoring one of the biggest Christian music line-ups of the season as the Winter Jam tour stops at the Mabee Center on March 9. The line-up includes classic CCM artists like Stephen Curtis Chapman and NewSong along with more recent stars like Jeremy Camp, Sanctus Real, Hawk Nelson and Britt Nicole. This is on heck of a bargain as tickets are only $10 at the door and the Mabee Center opens at 6pm.
Looking downtown, one of those South By previews that I mentioned stops at the Mooch & Burn on Friday, March 9 with Aqueduct, The Annual, and Stevedore. Tickets are $10 and the doors open at 7pm.
Or if you head over to 18th and Boston on Friday night, you'll find Congress of a Crow and Gunderson playing at Boston's and Austin rockabilly act Two Timin' Three holding its Tulsa CD release party at Mercury Lounge. Cover is $5 for either show.
On Saturday night, The Edge (Z104.5FM) is sponsoring a limited capacity show with The Vanished, afterEight and Weeping Tree at The Pinkeye. Tickets are only $10 in advance and the show starts at 8pm.
Also on Saturday night, The Continental host Boogalu and Mercury Lounge welcomes OKC's Sugar Free All-Stars before the band makes its own trip down to Austin for the music festival.
Country breakout act Sugarland is the big show in town on Sunday night, March 11. No opening and has been announced, tickets are $43.50 and the show starts at 7:30pm.
The Mooch & Burn continues to dominate the week's highlights with two more SXSW previews on Sunday and Monday nights. First, Snowden, RaRa Riot and Scissors for Lefty play March 11 with a $7 ticket and an 8pm door. Then on Monday, March 12, ABR brings The Smoking Popes, Minipop, Red City Radio and Hotlanta to the Mooch. Tickets are $12, doors open at 8pm and the show starts at 9pm.
Finally, the Cain's wraps up our weekly highlights with a couple of buzz-worthy shows. Cold War Kids, Tokyo Police and Delta Spirit (another batch of SXSW bands) play the Cain's second stage on Tuesday, March 13. Tickets are $14 advance and $16 at the door. Then on Wednesday night, March 14, Cute is What We Aim For headlines the Ballroom with openers All Time Low, This Providence, Brighten and One Night Scam. Tickets are $15 in advance or $17 day of and doors open at 7pm.
So, is that enough for you? It only gets crazier next week as St Patrick's Day draws near. Until then, have fun, be safe, and get rested up for the big St. Paddy's parties next week. We'll tell you all about 'em.
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