While there's been plenty of talk about urban renewal and how much the BOk Center will wake up downtown, there's more going on than most people are paying attention to. With the lights back on at the Brady Theater, there's been plenty of activity in the Brady District and the fun is spilling over onto Main Street, filling the gap between the "Old Lady" and "The House the Bob Built."
This Friday night, May 2, is the official grand opening of The Marquee, which is bringing the old Mooch & Burn space back to life. After sitting dormant for a few months, the space gets a little polish and a new lighting system from the Matheos brothers (who also run the Cellar Dweller and Bull & Bear).
In order to get things kicked off in style (as if DJ Robbo's 80s Prom wasn't fun enough for an unofficial opening), the brothers are bringing in DJ Z-Trip to jumpstart the Marquee and establish it as one of the coolest rooms in town.
If you're not familiar, Z-Trip is one of the founders of the mash-up movement and one of the hottest DJ's around, having opened for the Rolling Stones in front of 500,000 at Sars-stock in Toronto. He's also played the main stage at Bonnarroo two years in a row and headlined a tent at Coachella twice and even appeared as a headliner at the Good Vibrations Festival in Australia in 2006. In another groundbreaking addition to his resume, Z-Trip will be the first DJ to perform for our troops overseas when he visits Kuwait later this year.
It's not often that Z-Trip plays a smaller room like The Marquee, so Friday night should be one heck of a party. I'll admit I'm not usually big on the DJ thing, but the Z-Trip show should be way cool. Tickets are $15 in advance or $20 at the door for the weekend's biggest house party.
Marc Matheos said that The Marquee won't be open every night--at least not yet-but it will be opening its doors more frequently as it gets established. You can keep an eye out for more regional touring bands that aren't quite big enough to play the Cain's, as well as up-and-coming indie bands, breakout DJ's and possibly even a few rising comedians to help establish The Marquee as one of the cooler rooms in town.
The Matheos brothers aren't stopping with the Marquee, though. They're also busy preparing to open another bar, The Crystal Pistol, later this summer a few doors down from the bar Soundpony. The Pistol will be featuring some live music as well. If all goes well, there's also the possibility of eventually opening a late-night restaurant between the Pistol and Soundpony. How cool would that be? Now it's up to Tulsans to support the clubs and shows in order for it to take off.
Of course, Cain's Ballroom has long been the anchor of Main Street and the Brady Arts District and that isn't about to change. This is a good week for a stop at the Cain's as well, with a stack of cool shows. In fact, one of the coolest of the month is one that threatens to slide by under the radar. This Thursday night, May 1, Ben Kenney and DJ Kilmore (both of Incubus) will be playing Bob's as part of their two week stealth tour. Tickets are only $16.
If you haven't heard Ben Kenney's new disc, Distance and Comfort, you need to look it up or download it off iTunes. Kenny played everything on the recordings and I don't know what kind of band he'll have for the live show, but its one hell of a rock album. Kenney doesn't know any boundaries and steps out even further than his main gig in Incubus, touching on hard rock, funk and Middle Eastern tones.
The next night, May 2, the main stage opens up for a show with current buzz band and sister act Tegan and Sara. These girls have developed incredibly over the years and are currently supporting their fifth CD, The Con. I got to speak briefly with Sara a few weeks ago and the girls are looking forward to hitting Tulsa for the first time as they are using the current leg of the tour to focus on cities they haven't played previously.
Once known more as a folk-act, the latest disc sees the duo develop its sound and step out into the pop-rock realm. Tickets are $25 in advance or $27 at the door and An Horse will open the show.
So what else does the Cain's have for us this week? On Saturday night, May 3, it's OAR with Jonathan Tyler and the Northern Lights ($29); followed by the Avett Brothers and Matt Butcher on May 4 ($19); an electric Hot Tuna show on Tuesday, May 6 ($26) and Cowboy Mouth on May 7 ($17).
If there's one thing that needs to be cleared up, it's this: The Brandon Clark Band is not a country act. Sure, the group did play at Country Fever last summer (and was, ironically, one of the only bands to NOT play a cover tune all weekend), but that's more a matter of time, place and exposure. Stop in for a club gig with BCB and you'll find more screaming guitars and miller flying than boot scootin'.
The band may get taken for granted since it plays so frequently, but that's changing as the group keeps getting more and more out of town gigs. On the occasion that I get to stop in, however, it's nearly always like pulling out an old record and rediscovering one of your old favorites. Classic guitar tones and bar-room rock are the rule, especially when the band is on fire and playing live.
The live show is where the Brandon Clark Band thrives, which may explain the energy caught on the band's new disc, Tall, which rolls out this Friday night, May 2, with a CD release party at Mercury Lounge.
With nearly two years time invested and the disc all but completed, the band decided to scrap the sessions a few months ago and made a trip to visit Hank Charles at Valcour Sound. From there, the group started from scratch and while Charles dialed in the tones and directed the recording, the band kicked out the tunes the way it does things best: live and in the moment.
Of course, a few punch-ins and overdubs were added, but mostly, it was live. In turn, there's an energy on the new record which was missing from the initial sessions.
Back to the whole country thing. It's not that there aren't elements of country in the band's music. There are also elements of blues, jam and even hard rock at times, but you rarely hear the group described as a blues or jam band. As bassist Darren Lightfoot put it, "We still rock up the country and country up the rock."
Not quite Red Dirt, not country or blues, the Brandon Clark Band incorporates a little of everything from the band members' influences and rolls it all together.
One listen to Tall tells you all you need to know; The Brandon Clark Band is finally starting to capture part of its live attitude in the studio and, in turn, creating CDs that will spend a lot more time in the CD player in your car.
Yes, there's still a little honky-tonk and country in there. "This Hangover Ain't Over" has the twang and lyrics that most people associate with country, but the sound is closer to Austin's Derailers than anything coming out of Nashville. At the same time, "Try a Little Loneliness" has a swagger and swing that you're more likely to find with Roger Clyne and the Arizona Peacemakers.
The real standout of the new disc, however, is easily "She's Got No Wings" --a song penned by bassist Darren Lightfoot. It's a song that already stood out, but when the group suggested while recording that it would sound cool with strings in the back ground, producer Hank Charles took the band one step farther by scoring it out overnight and adding the parts the next day. Charles input and attention to detail was definitely a deciding factor in the new recordings.
In turn, the band got what they were looking for: a big bass and drum sound along with a full guitar tone. The end results exceeded the band's expectations. Now, it can exceed yours.
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