For enthusiastic Red Dirt fans and recent OSU alumni, No Justice is a well-known quantity. In the roughly five years since the band originally formed, it has earned a plethora a fans and garnered a reputation as "the next Ragweed," with expectations for it to be the next breakout Red Dirt band. Somehow, though, the group has managed to fly relatively under the radar in Tulsa.
Maybe it's because the hard-touring group has played Tulsa infrequently, while focusing heavily the Texas circuit and establishing its presence further north into Kansas, Nebraska and Colorado. And even though the first two No Justice CDs garnered respectable airplay on the Texas radio charts and revealed a band that was becoming a solid songwriting entity, the band's real strength has always been its live show.
Last year's self-titled album set the stage for No Justice to step up to the next level: a solid disc that struck a middle ground somewhere between traditional country and the Midwestern rock of Mellencamp, Petty and Seger. While the closest (and easiest) band to compare it to is Cross Canadian Ragweed, the truth of the matter is No Justice actually maintains a slightly more country sound without sounding as glossy and contrived as many mainstream pop-country acts do.
By drawing on each of the members' different influences and delivering its music with a rock-oriented vibe, No Justice is trying to create something fresh. "That's what we strive for," said lead singer Steve Rice, "to make everybody's head turn a little bit and not have the same old sound that's coming out of the speakers every night after night at the bar, which I think we've accomplished."
"I'm proud we're like that," Rice continued, "because nobody can say we're like anybody else and that's cool. Obviously, they can say we sound like Ragweed or that we sound similar. Of course, if you're going to be compared to somebody, that's not a bad band to be compared to, either!"
"Yeah--Reckless Kelly is kind of the same way," added guitarist Brandon Jackson. "They can be pretty heavy and country at the same time, which is why it's fun to be paired with those guys."
Even though No Justice is a great sophomore release, however, it still doesn't paint a completely accurate picture of a band best known for its live performances. That problem has potentially been solved, at least for the time being, with Live at Billy Bob's, the new CD and DVD being released this week.
Recorded in Fort Worth this past May, the band hadn't yet seen or heard the tapes when I spoke with them earlier this summer, but Rice and Jackson were excited to hear the results after a strong show.
When discussing the performance that was recorded, Rice revealed, "It had a couple new songs in there, along with most of our singles from the last two records. We did a couple of covers--U2's "With or Without You," which we tied in with one of our songs that we usually do at the last of our shows, a Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers song and a Todd Snider tune." (Note: the final track listing for the CD does not include the cover tunes, although they may appear on the companion DVD.)
"We just went out there and did our thing and it's a good representation of our live show," said Rice, "which I thought was cool--especially for people who buy our CDs out of state, up north and northeast and places we don't get to. They can get the DVD and CD and experience what people down here experience."
"We always get compliments on how high-energy our show is," explained Jackson. "People who haven't seen us before will just be like 'Oh, wow!' and they always come back and tell us that, which is very flattering. We try and we work really hard to make our live show a lot of fun.
We don't just stand around, we move around and enjoy ourselves."
"We try to enjoy the show--and we do--as much as a fan would, you know? We get into it. It gets kind of hard night after night," Jackson continued, "but we still always find that place, that pocket where we can enjoy it as well. As Steve said, this DVD will show that to anyone (who hasn't seen us before)."
With two studio CDs and now a live disc being released on the Smith Music Group label (which handled Ragweed's independent releases), a heavy touring schedule and a rapidly growing fan base, No Justice truly appears to be on a similar path and trajectory as the band it is most often compared to.
In fact, it won't be a surprise to see the band's popularity and success skyrocket within the next two years. In other words, count on these guys to be the next rising stars of the Red Dirt scene.
No Justice returns to T-Town for the Live at Billy Bob's, Texas CD/DVD release party at the Blank Slate on Thursday, September 6. With a three-month absence since the band has played in town and a new CD to celebrate, the band is bound to be wound up and ready prove itself to Tulsa with a raucous live show.
If you're already a No Justice fan, you know not to miss the party. If you're yet to be initiated, what are you waiting for? If you're a fan of bands like Cross Canadian Ragweed, Reckless Kelly or even The Great Divide, you won't be disappointed. Doors open at 8pm and your ticket price includes admission and a copy of the new CD for only $10.
Of course, the No Justice show isn't the only thing going on Thursday, September 6--it isn't even the only show at the Blank Slate complex. Don't forget that Mike Dillon's Go Go Jungle, as mentioned in last week's issue, will be playing right next door at Exit 6C and cover is only $10.
That's just a start to the action, but with two high profile shows of completely different styles within steps of each other, it seems silly to look anywhere else but 1st and Detroit this Thursday night.
Although the Labor Day holiday may have seemed fairly laid back on the local front, it's back to business as usual (or more than usual) this weekend. There are plenty of great shows to choose from, but here are the highlights:
On Friday night, September 7, the Blank Slate complex is busy with two shows yet again. This time Hosty Duo plays Exit 6C while Ian Moore headlines the Blank Slate with a release party for his new CD, To Be Loved, which just came out.
I've been told that he's reverted back to his early blues-rock vibe, but don't buy into it. Moore's a musical chameleon who doesn't stop changing. He's hard to keep tabs on, but that's not a bad thing. If you've got to find a point of reference, think closer to Got the Green Grass. Cover is $15 and Dustin Pittsley opens the show at 9pm.
Over at Kingspointe Village (61st and Yale), The Midlife Crisis Band is holding a free show and release party for its new, live DVD. Not bad for a bunch of old guys who like to rock the oldies . . .
Also on Friday night, The Vanished returns to Tulsa for an intimate show at Crush Lounge. The Dallas boys always treat Tulsa like a hometown gig and they're dropping in for a quick visit just as their latest single, "Chemical Reaction," starts hitting the airwaves. The Edge was all over "The Longest Goodbye," so I'm sure they'll spin the new one as well.
Doors open at 7pm for the 8pm show and openers are yet to be announced, but you know it will be a rockin' show. Cover is $10 at the door.
Road Trip Alert!
If you get all juiced up at the No Justice show and need to feed your Red Dirt Rock fix, call in sick on Friday and hit the highway for the 4th annual Cross Canadian Ragweed Family Jam at the OKC Zoo Amphitheater. Ragweed and Black Crowes headline the evening and share main stage with Jason Boland and the Stragglers, Randy Rogers Band, Stoney LaRue and Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers while a second stage features Red Dirt Rangers, Mike McClure, Wade Bowen and more. Tickets are $36 plus service charges.
As if Friday's schedule wasn't packed enough, Saturday appears to be even busier in T-Town. First up, the free shows: September 8 sees DJ Moody hold his CD release party for Live at Dwelling Spaces at the Soundpony Lounge and Kilkenny's shuts down Cherry Street for its "First Annual Block Party" with Citizen Mundi, Lost Motor System, Sam and the Stylees and Hiphopotamus. Pray for clear skies and bring your beer money, because this will be one heck of a party.
Also on Saturday night, The Commodores play a show at the Osage Events Center, The Effects make a hometown stop at Blank Slate with Autovaughn in tow and a reunited Podank String Band (with original members Kabe Cornell, Sean Stewart and Jonny Palmer and veteran fiddler, Sick) plays Boston's with a $5 cover.
The calendar also shows a couple of fundraisers planned for Saturday, September 8. More prominently, The PAC hosts Divas 2007 in the Liddy Doenges Theatre. The program features Rebecca Ungerman, John Sawyer, Charlie Redd, Heather Richetto-Rumley, Christy Hanewinkel, Pam Van Dyke, Annie Ellicott and Cindy Cain and proceeds will benefit H.O.P.E. (Health Outreach Prevention Education) programs to increase awareness and education about HIV, AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases throughout Oklahoma. Tickets are $20 and $40, with table seating available for $125 per person.
Also on Saturday night, Emberson holds its CD/EP release at the Tulsa Little Theater (15th and Delaware) with special guests afterEIGHT, Kill 'Em All, Luciano Outfit and George Clooney. Doors open at 6:30pm and the $10 cover includes a copy of the new EP, while proceeds will benefit the Charles Page High School Band Boosters. In other words, coming to the show supports local music in more ways than one.
Sunday night's best bet includes a drive to Claremore for Disciple with afterEight, Crimson Soul and 7th Seal at King of Clubs. Tickets are $10 in advance or $13 at the door and the show starts at 7:30pm.
Monday evening, September 10, sees Bring Me the Horizon and Blessed by a Broken Heart co-headline a 7pm show at the Crush Lounge to start the week, while Tuesday is quiet and Brian Parton rocks the Mercury Lounge on Wednesday, September 12.
Also on the 12th, The Ataris play the King of Clubs with Mayola, Minutes Too Far and Motive For Movement opening. Tickets are $12 and the show starts at 7pm.
Finally, looking out a little further, the Tulsa Young Professionals present "Rock the River" next Thursday, September 13 at the River West Festival Park and Amphitheater.
The free concert begins at 6pm and will feature Sam and the Stylees, Citizen Mundi, Hosty Duo, GHOSTS and Travis Kidd and is being held to help raise support of the Arkansas River Development plan, which is up for a vote on October 9.
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