When singer-songwriter Eric Himan relocated to Tulsa from Pittsburg in April of 2007, he was a welcomed addition to the local music scene. Fulfilling a bit of wanderlust that he inherited from his childhood (Himan's father was in the military, resulting in his growing up in the Carolinas, Hawaii and Brooklyn), Himan settled into a centralized area that allowed him to travel more easily between coasts.
And although he didn't get plugged into the local community immediately, still touring constantly behind his catalogue of songs, he quickly found an affinity with Tulsa. In fact, Himan is quick to discuss his pride in calling himself a Tulsan now (he even recently purchased a home here, securing his roots in our local soil) and how just the mention of Tulsa brings a strong and enthusiastic response when traveling coast to coast.
And while Himan still doesn't play too frequently in town, his schedule has allowed him to settle in and become a part of the local community. Just as his songwriting has developed, so have his ties and his Tulsa pride.
He has begun to find his voice and released his most consistent album to date, Resonate. ("I used to feel like and island, trying to do everything myself, but now I realize it's really about networking and making connections," he told me recently.)
A self-confessed "genre-jumper", Himan has never been afraid to take from whatever he heard and incorporate it into his songwriting, but the process has taken a distinct turn during the past year and a half. According to Himan, his focus has changed, allowing him to take on his own voice.
"I listen to all styles of music, in phases, as I think all of us do," he shared, explaining his development. "I'd listen to different genres and kind of take from each of them, thinking 'I wonder what I'd sound like writing in this style, or like this person...' As a result, my sound would bounce around, even within albums.
"It took time to learn that whole process, and I think everyone goes through it, but now I'm not thinking that way," he continued, admitting that he learned directly from the artists he listened to as a child and teen, having no formal musical training.
"Now, when I travel, I constantly have people come up to me and ask me how can I not sound like someone else," said Himan. "It's because I tried for so long to imitate other people, until I finally let go and decided I'll be me and listen to my voice and see what it does.
"This time (with Resonate), it's more about the lyrics than the styles.
"For my last album, Everywhere at Once, I went in and recorded 15 songs and brought in some friends and recorded it in about three weeks," Himan explained. "Later, when people said it sounded rushed, it was like 'You're right -- it was...' There was too much going on."
When going in to record Resonate, then, Himan admittedly set a timeline to work within, but took the time to let the album breathe and come together organically.
"I decided to sit with it and let it happen -- don't force or push anything," he explained. "Some of the songs I didn't want to put out, but my friends pushed me to. This is the first time I've actually put my thoughts and opinions on a record, which makes it very vulnerable."
The result is a much more relaxed, personal and well-rounded disc than anything Himan has released previously.
Whether looking back at lost relationships in "Wish You Would," being true to yourself in "Little Boy Blue" or addressing the dynamics of relationships in "He's Using You" or "We Are The Same," the disc is full of songs that connect immediately on a personal level.
That's exactly what Himan is trying to do on multiple levels -- not just with the music, but also in his interaction with his audience. ("On an Independent level, I don't think you can have 'fans' and draw that line," he shared. "It's all about making a personal connection and networking.")
Even while being based in Tulsa, Himan's career has continued to blossom, with him touring year round on the club and coffeehouse circuit.
Expanding His Sound
Just recently, Himan was requested to play the main stage at the North Halsted Market Days Festival in Chicago, Illinois -- a gig he is usually jockeying to get attention for. Once he finally go the call, he decided to take full advantage of it and instead of using the studio band that he usually calls on for bigger shows back east, he called on Jimmy and Angel Adams, whom he previously met through songwriter Kelly Morrison.
"I wanted to make it an actual show, not just recreating the CD, like I would with a studio band," Himan shared, explaining the shift in his performance. "So we put a lot of practice in, changing some things and making it an actual show. The band just brought so much to it, so much more energy, it seemed a shame to just do the Chicago show and be done, so I made some calls to book a Tulsa gig."
Although economics may not allow Himan to tour with a full band year round, this weekend Tulsa gets a chance to sample his work both ways. Himan plays at Capellas this Friday evening, August 29, with Jimmy and Angel, presenting a variety of his songs, both in full band and acoustic format. The group will also throw in a few covers, rearranged to fit and reveal Himan's true colors.
Cover is only $5 and Brian's White Bandana, a five-piece blues-rock band, opens the evening at 9pm, followed by Eric and The Adams. If you haven't seen Himan yet, now's the time to get acquainted with our Tulsa transplant.
This weekend is incredibly busy on the local front, especially over the weekend, as the summer comes to a close. We've got a little bit of everything happening this weekend. All you've got to do is get out and enjoy it.
You can jump start your weekend early as Z104.5 The Edge and the Shiner Summer of Music presents a couple of the hottest bands in town on Thursday night, August 28, with Stars Go Dim and Congress of a Crow at Exit 6C. Cover is only $5 to kick off the weekend and see what the local buzz is about.
On Friday night, August 29, the "big" show of the weekend is Kottonmouth Kings and Tech N9ne with hed(pe), Brother J and Prozak & Dirtbag opening at the Cain's Ballroom for $34. If that's not your style, however, there are plenty more cool shows going on for a lot less.
If you're not in a singer/songwriter mood and heading down to Capellas for the aforementioned Eric Himan show, The Marquee is hosting local favorites Ludo and The Feds with The Hanks and My Solstice opening the show for only $10.
Honk Tonky and alt-country fans will want to head to 18th and Boston for The Derailers' CD release party for Guaranteed to Satisfy. Once again, the band has managed to strike a chord centered between Roy Orbison, Buck Owens and the Beatles, owing as much to early rock & roll and rockabilly as country. Label mates Two Tons of Steel will be opening a show at what has become one of The Derailers' favorite locales.
Finally, whatever you do, don't forget to find your way down to Soundpony before the night is over on the 29th, so you can wish a proper farewell to one of our Tulsa's best indie rock bands, Black Swan. Day jobs call and Sam Alexander's company is moving to Portland, but the whole band is being dragged along, so don't miss out on the final hurrah!
On Saturday evening, August 30, The Marquee hosts the Axis CD release party, along with guests God In A Machine, Pitter Splatter and Automation for only $10. At the same time, GHOSTS and Crocodile will take over Soundpony while Klondike 5 plays Exit 6C, just across the tracks.
If you're looking for something a little mellower and a little jazzy, just spin around the corner to Capellas and settle in with the Paul Benjamin Trio. At the same time, blues rock and blistering guitar fans will need to wander over to Plan B on Saturday evening, where Dustin Pittsley will undoubtedly tearing the house down.
Meanwhile, Mercury Lounge keeps the corner of 18th and Boston hopping with The Josh Davis Band and a $5 cover.
The Tulsa sound continues to live on, though, as The Lifers continue to tear up Exit 6C every weekend on Sunday.
On Tuesday night, September 2, Scott Harrison is the featured guest during Songmaker's Night at The Colony and Beau & Wink hold down a standing tradition with Rumplemintz and all your favorite laid back covers at McNellie's.
Over at The Cain's, Slightly Stoopid headlines the Ballroom with Pepper and The Expendables at 8pm with a $25 ticket.
Finally, the week wraps up with The Show Is The Rainbow and Streetlight Fight keeping the local music scene alive in a mid week show at The Monolith for $5.
Whatever you decide to do or partake of, be safe and get out there and support our local music scene.
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