Being a proactive fan of music in Tulsa can sometimes feel like an exercise in futility. As a writer, I strive to be fair, open-minded and unassuming in my approach to covering local music.
Covering music for Urban Tulsa is a bit like standing in a room full of people and telling each of them whether you like them or not, and why. You criticize one, praise another, ignore someone else. The criticized get pissed for obvious reasons, the praised get mad at you for criticizing their friends. The ignored get resentful over being left out. Personal taste becomes suspect; you like too many people with brown hair, and the blondes start accusing you of being biased. Eventually, everybody hates you.
That's not the greatest analogy, but you get the point. Writing about music is not a purely promotional endeavor--everybody has an opinion, so I better have one as well. Unfortunately, our city is small and our music scene is fairly incestuous. Everybody wants to see our scene flourish, so criticism is frowned upon as something counterproductive to our common goal.
At the end of the day, most music discourse boils down to a bunch of nerds arguing arbitrary opinions based on not much more than personal whim. Transcending this low level of discourse is surprisingly difficult, but that shouldn't stop you from trying.
It's certainly not going to stop me. I believe in our city, and I believe in our musicians. So when I see something that I don't like, that I think is detrimental to our growth, I'm going to throw a fit about it. And so should you.
Now, I'm going to single out somebody in the room who I happen to like quite a bit.
Several months ago, I told you about Organum Records. The bourgeoning art and music collective (consisting of a handful of Tulsa's better musicians) has grown a bit since then, and on October 3rd (this Friday), the group will be throwing a coming-out party of sorts at the Blank Slate. Over the past few months, they've held weekly jam sessions (Capella's, every Wednesday evening) that have grown increasingly popular.
Think of "The Show That Homies Made" (the official name of Friday's show) as the culmination of those jam sessions. It's an artist's showcase in the best sense; a get-together for close friends who will be performing as brothers and sisters in support of one another. Scheduled to play are Jesse Aycock, the Doldrums, Stone Trio, Lindsey Neal, Paul Benjamin Band, the New Honey Shade, and Clay Welch.
In addition to the music, artwork from Fresh Produce (out of Lawrence, KS) and our own Live 4 This will be on display.
"It's our collective statement of what's going creatively, musically and culturally in Tulsa," Chris Combs, guitarist for Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey, Stone Trio and the Doldrums, explained. "We've got eight different bands and two different art collectives. The cheese factory, an online radio station, is going to be there, and we're going to be registering people to vote."
Combs also said that the Hub, a community recycling project, will be at the show as well.
What it amounts to is the foundation for what could potentially swell into a significant cultural movement in Tulsa, and the group is well aware of the event's possibilities.
"Cultural movements that happen in Austin or Seattle or wherever you choose to look, they all take a lot more than musicians to make music happen," Combs said. "There are a lot of people who are working really hard to make Tulsa a happening place, and it's exciting to see that on all levels.
"It's a really powerful artistic movement that's happening in Tulsa right now," he continued. "And we're all just really excited to be making our stamp on it."
The group hopes that Friday's showcase will be the first in a long line of Organum-hosted cultural events.
"There's already talk about the next one that'll probably be happening in early '09," Combs said."It's very goal oriented; the Organum name is going to be spread as much as the individual artists, so we can hopefully continue to grow."
As I said back in July, it's both refreshing and encouraging to see a large group of musicians, all with talent to spare, so eager to share the stage with one another. As is always the case with Organum, there's no clear headliner for the show, and there's not really meant to be.
"There's very, very low ego interference in what we do," Combs said. "Everyone assumes the roles they need to without having a central organizing point. That kind of stuff starts to take away from the community vision that this whole thing is based around.
"It's a group that's based on friendship and love for each other. From there, we start creating some pretty badass shit."
The show starts at 8pm, and it's all ages. The cost is $5 if you're over 21, and $7 if you're under.
Here's what's happening this week in the music world.
On Thursday: New Riders of the Purple Sage invade the Blank Slate, Dale Watson performs at Mercury Lounge and Tony Danza, Arsonists Get All the Girls and Stray from the Path destroy the King of Clubs (in Claremore).
Friday find the above-mentioned Organum show at the Blank Slate, Brian Dunning and the Rock and Roll Trio at Mercury Lounge, and Big Smith at the Cain's.
Saturday finds tight competition between Straight Lines (at the Soundpony) and John Moreland & the Black Gold Band (at the Mercury Lounge). Meanwhile, the colorfully named Fear by the March of Flames, Dance Gavin Dance, Damiera, and I Am the Ocean rock the Marquee.
Sunday, you have to pick between two very different but equally top-notch shows. The Kooks bring their particular brand of British pop-rock to the Cain's with openers the Whigs, while Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey and Annie Ellicott headline the Community Stage of the Tulsa State Fair. Good luck making that choice...
On the other hand, you could skip both of those and check out local darling Fiawna Forte as she continues to hone her sound, via a weekly gig at Bruhouse.
Monday is quiet, save for DJ Moody's weekly mash-up party at Capella's.
Tuesday is business as usual, with Brandon Clark serenading the C.J. Moloney's crowd in Broken Arrow, while My Solstice continues with their popular Tuesday night acoustic gig at Capella's.
And finally, Wednesday finds John Hammond at Exit 6C.
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