For some people, music is more than background noise. It's the soundtrack to life. Memories and moments are built around specific songs and when you hear that tune again, the experiences tied to it all come flooding back. Music can be lifeblood, a healing salve, a resting place and the thing that keeps us going when we're tired and weary.
And the rest of the population, probably the greater part of the population? They just don't get it, and try as we might to explain it or make them understand, they probably never will. The best we can do is leave them to their own devices and go on building more memories.
So, just what has drawn me back to this little reflection? Summer has set in and much like many of our readers, I've set off on a little vacation. Of course, while some people take the opportunity to step away from their normal routine, I could hardly wait to step out and see what's going on musically in someone else's neighborhood.
Last week's trip found me in Raleigh, NC visiting my sister, but not without a trip to the PourHouse to check out once of my favorite singers that I've come cross in the past five years, Will Hoge.
It's been over two years since I've gotten the chance to catch Hoge in a live setting and he didn't disappoint. Not many artists out there deliver music like this anymore: an old-school blend of rock and blue-eyed soul that taps honky-tonk swagger, gospel passion, and heart-felt story telling.
Hoge's last two albums, The Man Who Killed Love and Draw the Curtains, hit all the classic rock and country themes: heartbreak, bitterness, love, redemption and life on the road and he delivers it in a manner that honors the masters that have come before him without becoming a caricature. It's easy to draw comparisons to a young Springsteen based solely on Hoge's appearance, with his thin stature and scraggly beard, but that's not evens scratching the surface.
Stage presence is everything and Hoge delivers his tales with an authority and passion worthy of The Boss, while also working in a little of the fire and attitude of early Elvis Costello, a touch of Memphis soul and the matter of fact reliability of Petty or Mellencamp.
In other words, a stop to see Hoge reminds me of the same thing that local acts like Brandon Clark Band, John Moreland and the Black Gold band and South 40 have been telling us every weekend: real rock bands aren't dead; they're just hiding in the small clubs around the corner. A night with one of my personal favorites in a cozy little bar is enough to restore my faith in music.
Looking Forward and Back (at the same time)
Speaking of faith, by the time the paper gets to your hands I'll have returned home only to turn around and head out to Cornerstone, probably the biggest Christian rock festival in the country. That means I'm looking into both the future and the past and quite possibly sweating off another 10 pounds in the heat and sun while you're reading this.
While Cornerstone is normally all about looking into the future and giving young new bands and opportunity to shine, this is the 25th anniversary for the festival and allows a chance to look back as well. The irony of it all (for me at least) is that I was at four of the first five Cornerstone festivals and have seen more bands than I can count come and go.
While most of my time this week will be pent listening to new music and checking out the latest young guns that are trying to make an impact, I'll also get an opportunity to see a few of the most influential artists in Christian music, shy of Larry Norman, hit the stage again and show the kids how things are done.
Yes, I'm looking forward to headliners like Flyleaf, Leeland, Anberlin, David Crowder and Demon Hunter, but I'm more excited to see who's got the goods to build a sustainable career beyond early buzz. Since we're in the heart of the "Bible Belt," many of these bands have come through Tulsa a few times playing at small clubs, but this will give me a chance to shuffle through all of them over an extended weekend and see who has grown most since I saw them last.
Among those I'm really looking forward to this week are mewithoutyou, The Fold, Emarosa, Catherine, The Chariot, Flatfoot 56 and the Filthy 42's. Tuesday, July 1 marked the true opening of the festival with Tooth & Nail records showcasing nearly all of its bands throughout the day including Showbread, The Showdown, Life in Your Way Jonezetta and The Classic Crime.
If you remember have paid attention, Sand Springs boys afterEight signed with Tooth & Nail over the winter and hit the studio in January. Since then, the band has officially changed its name to Capital Lights and done a few regional tours. Needless to say, I'll be up front and center when our boy hit the stage to see what they've got up their collective sleeve. I'll be back with a recap and details next week.
While we're on the subject of Capital Lights, the band's new album, This is an Outrage!, officially comes out next Tuesday (July 8) and the band will be back in town for a CD release party at The Otherside on July 11. Captions, We Stay Gold and Lifetime Guarantee will open the show and tickets are only $8 in advance, so make plans now to give the boys a proper homecoming.
Next weekend also marks the return of Rocklahoma in Pryor, OK. I'll be perfectly honest--not only was I leery of last year's show, I wasn't sure they could pull I off again without repeating most of the same act. While there are a few overlapping names, I've found this year's line up to be even more impressive. We'll look at it in more detail next week, but Friday night headliners Triumph and Extreme should be worth the cost the weekend ticket on their own.
With the July 4th upon us, my guess is many of our readers will be headed to the lake for an extended weekend. For anyone who decided to stay in town, however, there are still plenty of things to do and plenty of live music to hear. If you're looking for something to keep your mind off the heat, here are of few of this week's highlights:
As has become the norm, Thursday serves as a wakeup call and kick start for the extended weekend. Cairde na Gael holds down its usual slot at Arnie's on the first and third Thursdays of the month with an evening full of Guinness and Irish tunes, but there's more to keep downtown hopping tonight. July 3 also sees Project Huckleberry and Hiphopotamus filling the night at the Continental while Plan B has music on three stages with Larry Cagle and Pat Savage playing inside, My Solstice on the outdoor stage and DJ Chron spinning upstairs.
There are tunes on the South side as well as Crush Lounge and Doom Rocket present Sky Eats Airplane, A Skylit Drive and Breathe Carolina in an 8pm show with a $13 ticket on July 3rd.
July 4 is relatively quiet as most people will likely be tied up in the Independence Day festivities. Nevertheless, if you're looking to get out, Wink & Jeff will be playing Arnie's while Ben Kilgore chills out at Capella's and Plan B holds a dance party with Whirligig. Also on Friday night, Bad Things and Rhino Bucket crash the local scene with a show at The Crush Lounge.
Saturday, July 5 sees a lot of action in South Tulsa as Alex Cartwright plays a free show at the Riverwalk Amphitheater at 7pm and Vandevander plays well into the night, just down the sidewalk at the Dirty's Sports Bar on the Riverwalk. A short drive away, Crush Lounge wraps up its weekend with The Heroine, Rocket and Theory of Tomorrow in an 8p show.
Meanwhile the parties are back in full swing downtown with Hosty Duo at Arnie's, Paul Benjamin Trio at Capella's, Salsa Rhythm Project at The Continental and Setting Sun with Quitzov at Soundpony.
The real show of the night, however, is Cairde na Gael putting on a full scale concert at Liddy Doenges Theater in the Performing Arts Center at 8pm. The band recorded its latest CD in the PAC during last year's Summer Stage performance at the PAC and the results were great, so you know it will be a show to look out for again this year.
The Monolith helps take up the slack on Sunday evening, July 6, with SleepState, Geraldo, Anchors & Teeth and more for only $5 and Exit 6C hosts it's weekly showcase of The Lifers (Steve Pryor, Dave Teegarden Sr., Jim Strader and Steve Hickerson) keeping the classics shuffle of the "Tulsa Sound" alive and kicking.
Tuesday night, July 8, The Cain's Ballroom hosts the Woody Guthrie Folk Festival/Tribute to Bob Childers concert with appearances by Jimmy LaFave, Red Dirt Rangers, Mike McClure, The Burns Sisters, Stoney Larue, Jason Boland, Joel Rafael and Tom Skinner. Tickets are $44.50 for reserved seating or $28 for general admission and you can expect even more artists to show up and pay their respects to one of the Godfathers of today's Red Dirt movement.
The week wraps up with Ben Kilgore at Plan B and Matt Fisher's Songwriter's Night with Roger Jager at The Colony on Tuesday, July 8 and Brandon Clark playing an acoustic show at Los Cabos in Jenks on Wednesday the 9th.
Standing Gigs and patio shows?
Every weekend there are plenty of clubs to bounce between to get out music fix, but we've got a lot of performers in town holding down regular gigs. If you've got a weekly (or bi-weekly) standing gig that you'd like to let people know about, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org with "RE: Standing Gig" and the day and venue in the subject line with the details in the body of you message. It should help you get word out as I try to cover some of our oft overlooked weekly offerings later this summer.
Have fun, enjoy your holiday and I'll see you next week!
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