If we see the weather fluctuate between 40 and 80 degrees, drought and flooding, and clear skies and tornadoes, one thing can be sure: it's May and summer is right around the corner. Along with it comes festival season in Tulsa. You know...any excuse to drink openly in the streets.
Art? Check. Food? Check. Music? Double-check. Hell, we've seen festivals for everything in Tulsa- Bluesfest, Jazzfest, Cajunfest, Greekfest, Reggaefest, DFest, ABC-Fest and What-About-Me Fest. So maybe I'm exaggerating, but you know what I mean.
Anyway, by my estimation, our fair city's festival season officially kicked off May 9-10 with the Bixby BBQ & Blues fest, which included killer one-two punch with Moreland & Arbuckle and Walter Trout & the Radicals on Saturday night. The rest of the city gets into the spirit this weekend with the longstanding downtown tradition Mayfest.
Yes, it's fairly mild mannered, but it's a good blend of art, music and family friendly activities, wrapped up in a plethora of street vendors and snacking options. At the same time, the Blue Dome Arts Festival is up and running just a few blocks away, so you can get a double dose of art, food and music.
Tulsans will likely prefer festival over the other, with the more traditional types generally migrating to the Mayfest grounds and the younger, urban types staunchly supporting the Blue Dome, but if both are supporting local artists and local music, you need to give them both a shot.
In the Blue Dome District, Arnie's is hosting the outdoor festival stage with sponsorship from Cain's Ballroom and yours truly, Urban Tulsa Weekly. Unfortunately, as of press time, an artist lineup had not been posted, but you can expect some cool tunes to be flowing from the corner of 2nd and Elgin on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Mayfest kicks off a day earlier on May 15, and hosts three stages for music. Anyone who's got an ear to the ground on the local scene will probably not be that impressed, but Mayfest is a family oriented event and tries to cater to all ages, which can be a tough demographic. As such, don't count on anything too cutting edge, but mellow tunes and local favorites can be found all weekend long.
With three stages, you've got plenty of opportunity to find something to keep you entertained, however. Expect fairly mild tunes and local favorites on the Bartlett Square Stage, located at Fifth and Main; more rock and jam leaning bands on the Community Stage, at Fourth and Boston, and more well known acts on the big stage on "The Green" between the PAC and Crowne Plaza.
Highlights for Thursday evening include Little Joe Blues Band at Bartlett Square at 6:30pm, Sam & the Stylees on the Community Stage at 8pm and Admiral Twin (hopefully laying heavy on their own material) on The Green at 9:30pm
Friday night is a no-brainer for local roots and Southern rock fans with Susan Herndon, South 40 and Brandon Jenkins running the Bartlett Square stage, while jazz fans will undoubtedly camp out on the lawn for Wall Street and Eldredge Jackson.
Finally, Saturday, May 17, is "country night" with Tulsa traditionalist Roundup Boys and TJ McFarland opening for headliner and Oklahoma native Joe Diffee. If you're looking to groove, you'll be better off at Bartlett Square with Harmonious Monk and Whirligig, while the louder crowd will be checking out RadioRadio, Theodress Avery and Larkin at Fourth and Boston.
DFest Unveils More Names
On Tuesday, DFest announced its next round of performers, rolling out another round of headline acts and the planned list of regional acts, with more to come before the end of the month. With the list now up to 137 acts, DFest will be featuring 146 artists over the July 25-26 weekend, including nine more yet-to-be-announced headline acts.
Overall, the DFest organization continues to follow the "something for everyone" template that was hinted at with the initial press conference, with a slight bent toward the burgeoning indie rock movement.
While some may peruse the current list and consider part of the picks predictable, they also need to consider that the festival was founded on spotlighting emerging artist and showcasing the best of Oklahoma's musical talent. With that in mind, it's interesting to note that even as DFest continues to gain national attention, a full 50 percent of the announced bill is still native to the state, with 73 Oklahoma artists already included in the current listings.
While the addition of All American Rejects may not surprise everyone (rumors of their inclusion have been flying speculatively for months), the other headlining additions should turn a few heads, even if a few of them are lost on more commercially minded music fans. Indie and pop fans should be pleased by the inclusion of Apples in Stereo and Phantom Planet, while the big surprises of the current announcement are the appearances of current jam band heavy weights moe. and rap all-stars and media darlings, The Roots. And finally, DFest continues to cover all corners of the musical map by also including country star and Oklahoma native Ty Englund.
On the regional and emerging artist side of the lineup, the list gets a little blurry with over 100 acts now being listed. While many of the usual (and much deserving) culprits such as Callupsie, Admiral Twin, The Effects, PDA and Colourmusic have been confirmed, the inclusion of new acts and artists that are quietly causing a stir like Stars Go Dim, Ceceda, Black Swan, Tech Tonic and Mercy Street continue to prove DFest has its finger on the pulse of the local music scene.
Although some may question whether the All American Rejects and The Roots are big enough to fill The Flaming Lips' sizable shoes, a closer look at the current list of artists arguably reveals a more consistent lineup than lasts year's event. And with two day wristbands priced at only $33.50 with service charges, DFest looks to be one of the best values around, especially when considering prices for other festivals of similar stature.
Full artist listings and further details can be found on the DFest Web site at www.dfest.com.
Of course, we all know Mayfest and the Blue Dome Arts Festival aren't the only things going on in town this week.
Thursday night is becoming the flashpoint for the weekend and May 15 is a prime example. Not only does the Urban Tulsa invite you to join us at the Press Club for the Soundproof concert series with Stone Trio, but Cairde na Gael is holding down Arnie's with its standing gig.
The rest of town is stepping up as well as Capellas has an early evening art show with Kelly Finnagan from 5:30 to 9pm, followed by a live set by My Tea Kind at 11pm. Soundpony hosts Apartment 5 and Dachsund. Bob's has a live show with up-and-comers Air Traffic, The Neighborhood and Red Alert, and Exit 6C welcomes the return of alt-funk-jazz madman Mike Dillon's GoGo Jungle.
Even Southsiders are getting in on the action as Crush Lounge pulls out Johnny (formerly of Medic-Droid) with Hyper Crush and Captions and CJ Moloneys, in Broken Arrow, hosts a raucous night with The Fiddlebacks.
Friday night's big show is the Fire & Ice Tour '08 at the Cain's Ballroom with Tech N9ne, Paul Wall, and Ill Bill, but there's plenty more rockin' to be found around town. The Continental grabs a deep groove with Salsa Rhythm Section, while Arnie's gets rowdy with Hosty Duo, and Steve Pryor burns down the house at Exit 6C with his local-legend guitar prowess.
Elsewhere around town on the 16th, Mercury Lounge throws a house party with OKC's Sugar Free All-Stars; The Pinkeye sees Wake the Mickeys, Ferdelance and Streetlight Fight Throw down and Crush Lounge hosts Breathe Carolina and White Tie Affair.
The downtown area really lets its rock and blues side come out on Saturday night, May 17, however, as Dustin Pittsley band holds a CD release party at Arnie's (I'm still waiting to get my hands on this one--Pittsley is long overdue for a new disc to showcase his songwriting and playing). Just around the corner, the Blank Slate complex is busy with Randy Crouch and Flying Horse at Exit 6C and Thunderbird Blues at Capellas, while Plan B hosts Peachtruck Republic and Vandevander takes over Tiny Lounge.
Sweet shows for the indie crowd and cooler-than-thou scenesters include the Milk & Knives Dance Party at Monolith and Tech Tonic's "Post-Mayfest Shakedown" at Soundpony, with music starting around 11pm with no cover. Potentially cooler is "Punk Rock Night" at the Pinkeye with Sworn against, Bill Murray's Prostate, Streetlight Fight and Dirty Mugz. Now, if we could only get someone like Indianapolis' Gay Black Republican to cruise through town, Tulsa might start to be known as a punk hotspot as well.
As the weekend winds down you can check out one of the best shows in the Jazz Hall's spring concert series with Dana Tucker Trio at 5pm ($10 at the door) on Sunday evening or chill out with The Lifers at 6C later that night.
Monday night's pick would have to be Blastoids, Kamikaze Slut, the Mysterious Professor Edit and Guardant at the Monolith and the week pretty much wraps up on Tuesday, May 20, with James Davis Jazz Quartet at The Continental and Songmaker's night at the Colony featuring Samantha Crain, Robert Van Haven and Day & Joy.
Whatever you're doing this weekend, have fun, enjoy the weather and be safe!
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