It may have been a few months since El Paso Hot Button (EPHB) has played Tulsa, but that doesn't mean the one-man band from Norman has been laying low. A string of shows, a new CD and a spotlight performance in the iROK showcase at SXSW in Austin have made sure Mickey Reece has kept busy with his musical alter-ego.
Admittedly, the frenetic rock act's first Tulsa show wasn't a mutual love affair. That fateful night saw EPHB initiate itself with a show at Deadtown Tavern and as Reece told me last week, "Nobody really cared about the music or was listening, so I just kind of wrote off Tulsa."
That changed quickly when he got an offer that he couldn't refuse: the opportunity to open for Starlight Mints at the Cain's Ballroom. After all, who (from Oklahoma, at least) doesn't want to play the Cain's?
"Of course I wanted to be a part of it," Reece explained, "and it was this huge, awesome show. After that, I saw a few shows were coming to town and I tried to jump on and see if I could get on the bill."
It was only a matter of time, then, before Reece started meeting other musicians and people active in the local music scene (like Stevedore/Hard Work Records' Jeff Richardson) and El Paso Hot Button started gathering shows and a loyal following here in T-Town. No venue is too large or small, so long as people want to see Reece perform and he's played all the local indie-rock haunts; from The Pinkeye and Monolith to DFest and the Cain's, as well as current hot spots Soundpony and The Continental.
What originally started out as something of a joke (an early version of the band actually included a second member who sang with a sewing machine and quit after only a couple of shows) has taken on a life of its own and become one of Tulsa's favorite "wish they were ours" acts.
What's so cool about El Paso Hot Button you ask? Start with the fact that it's a one-man band -- which may sound like shtick; but this isn't your standard, wind-up monkey with cymbals act (although it may have semi-jokingly started out that way). The stripped down format only serves to accentuate Reece's frenetic energy and the combustible sonics of his writing - which shares a few elements with fellow big-name rock minimalists The White Stripes without turning into another jaded, deconstructionist blues/garage rock band.
This weekend, Reece returns to town for yet another CD release party, this time splitting the disc with Hot Springs, AR experimental/electro-rockers Attractive & Popular.
When asked how the split disc came about, Reece shared that the bands have been friends for quite some time, making it an easy pairing. Perhaps more humorously telling, however, was his open admission that "...basically, I'm trying to get out as many CD's as I can, even if they're kind of shitty CD's."
"Live shows are just memories," Reece told me, explaining a little of his mentality and need to have something tangible in his hands. As a result, this weekend's CD release party for the Jungle Fever EP marks El Paso Hot Button's first release in as many years. And while Reece doesn't create the discs as "concept albums", each release does carry a common theme musically, if not lyrically, to hold it together.
The Snakes EP (another split release) consciously progressed with weird, slithery guitar lines while When I Needed Sympathy saw Reece follow a more soulful, emotional vibe. This time around, Reece throws a raucous house party on Jungle Fever, building on more aggressive, tribal rhythms that expound on his manic onstage energy.
One man, a guitar, his drums and a maze of effects pedals make one hellacious yet joyful noise when Reece cuts loose as El Paso Hot Button. Even if the songs themselves don't meet your personal taste, it's hard to not get caught up in the energy and controlled chaos of El Paso Hot Button's live show. The fact that this weekend's party is being held in the cozy confines of The Continental, where the band and audience begin to intermingle will surely only add to the chemistry.
If you haven't experienced an El Paso Hot Button show, this weekend is the perfect opportunity. Tulsa's own indie-pop savants, GHOSTS, open the evening, followed by Attractive & Popular and EPHB for a dual CD/EP release show. Add to it the fact that it's a free show (courtesy of ABR productions) and you're hard pressed to find a better party this weekend.
If you still haven't figured out why Tulsa is growing as a little hot bed of indie rock activity, let this show serve as your explanation.
Summer's definitely here, because it's more than just the temperature that's warming up. This weekend is busy in T-Town, and I haven't even started researching the mid-week patio shows that will be popping up all over town. We've definitely got something for everyone -- it's just a matter of what you're looking for.
This Thursday night, June 5, sees an old favorite, Cairde na Gael hold its standing gig at Arnie's for the faithful, while Salsa Rhythm Project keeps Plan B bouncing and Mike Barham represents Tulsa's country contingent at CJ Moloney's in Broken Arrow.
Thursday's two standout shows, however, hit opposite ends of the musical spectrum. The Firefighter's Ball at the Cain's Ballroom features Infinity, Red Dirt Rangers, Mary Cogan and Homeland Howlers for only $10 at the door, with all proceeds going to Stacy Ward's ongoing recovery and medical expenses. In contrast to the Cain's Red Dirt and Country lineup, The Monolith hosts a punk-rock night with Brutal Dildos, Streetlight Fight and The Rippers for only $5.
The Monolith follows up with another cool $5 show on Friday night, June 6, with Adam Lee & Dead Horse Sound Company and Phillip Farris headlining the night. Mayola and John Moreland and the Black Gold Band fill out the bill and might even share preview of each of their pending new CD's as well.
Elsewhere around town, Crush Lounge hosts a night of hardcore with Treachery, Southern Lush and 2 Minutes Hate while Mercury Lounge keeps 18th and Boston cool with Roger Alan Wade.
The show that threatens to get overlooked this weekend, however, is Mercy Street's official debut with On Wings of Wax, At Our Finest, Critical Nonsense and For Every Sleeve a Heart at the Blue Dome Diner. Doors open at 6:30pm for the 7:30 all-ages show. You'll want to keep an eye out for Mercy Street, who secured a spot on DFest before the band had even played a live show. These guys are poised to give Tulsa's hard rock scene a quick kick in the ass to get things back on track for our heavier bands.
Saturday night's big show is the CD Release party at Blank Slate for blues monster Bugs Henderson and the Shuffle Kings. Tickets are $12 in advance and $15 at the door for a show that local blues fans can't afford to miss.
Saturday also features shows by Ghosts of Monkshood and A Pack of Wolves at Soundpony; Red Eye Gravy and Danny Bean at Mercury Lounge; Pools, Anchors and Teeth and Bring Down the Hammer at Monolith and Madison Avenue, Where There's a Will, Kasino Kid and Red Carpet Riot at Crush Lounge.
Sunday, June 8, is a great night to stop in at the Jazz Hall of Fame to hear someone different and chill out as killer vocalists Dionne White and Booker T. Gillespie take over the stage in the Grand Hall for the evening.
Monday night, June 9, sees Unwed Sailor return to Tulsa for a show at The Continental with Callupsie and Sybris while Tuesday's highlight show is easily Edison Glass at the Crush Lounge with Nightmare of You, The Graduate and Paper Rivals.
Finally, use Wednesday night to chill out while wrapping up your weekend. Although I'm always partial to Matt Fisher's Vandevander at The Colony, an even more relaxing option is Tommy Crook's standing gig at Ti Amo with Mark Bruner. Who can go wrong with dinner, a drink and two guitars? Whatever you do, have fun and be safe -- we've got a big summer ahead of us.
Let the Good Roots Grow
New internet radio station is all local, all the time
By Josh Kline
Last Sunday, the guys at Z104.5 went live with the long talked-about internet radio station TulsaOriginalMusic.com. TOM is a 24-hour, seven-days-a-week stream of local and regional music that is completely free. It's an exciting new development in the continued growth of the local music scene, and one that's been in the making for the last year. The rules are simple: original songs from any and every genre, whether classic or contemporary, have the potential to be in rotation, as long as it comes from an Oklahoma artist.
The concept emerged from a brainstorming session between the Edge's Tom Holiday and Chuck Browning.
"It just resonated with me," Holiday said. "So I pursued it doggedly."
Holiday believes that the connection between TOM and the Edge makes for a beneficial relationship on both ends.
"The Edge has had a heritage of showcasing original artists, with Homegroan and everything," he said. "It just gives it a part of the fabric in the community that's a little special."
According to Holiday, the guys behind TOM (including Programming Director Kenny Wall and Internet Developer Michael Drummond) have worked hard to assure an attractive, professional and bug-free website that streams at 33 kbps with FM-quality sound.
"It's about as glitch free as any professional broadcast that would be owned by a major broadcast group," Holiday said. "We're pretty excited, and we think it's going to impact music here."
As to what kind of library TOM is streaming, Holiday continually emphasized the voluminous and diverse nature of the website's initial catalogue, with the expectation of continuous new additions in the future.
"We've got country tunes, a lot of rock, a lot of jazz, pop, rap," he said. "It sounds like you've got four different formats there, but when you put it into the artistic hands of Kenny Wall and Chuck, it's surprisingly cohesive."
For airplay consideration, artists should send submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
"For all the talent that's in Oklahoma, the regional songwriters and composers, this is a free window to the world," Holiday said. "That's our mission and we're sticking to it."
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