Just because Christmas slipped by (or is just about to) doesn't mean the season of giving ends. Although the packages are all torn open, we all know the festivities are only getting started, especially on the local music scene, where New Year's not only marks a fresh start, but also one of the biggest party nights of the year.
As should be expected, nearly every club or bar in town has some kind of celebration going down. And if your favorite band is playing music, you'll most likely see its members out and about enjoying the party with you. And while there are plenty of shows worth your attention, one downtown corner stands out as the place to be New Year's Eve.
No matter what you're into- jazz, indie rock, blues, red dirt, pop or ambient- you can't go wrong at the First Street Music Hall complex with two shows to satisfy Tulsa music fans of all varieties.
Transplanted Tulsan Brandon Jenkins is back for a show at Exit 6C on the 31st and he'll share the stage with local guitar slinger Dustin Pittsley for an evening that promises to touch on blues, rock, country, Americana, Red Dirt and anything and everything in between.
As mentioned by UTW last month, Jenkins' new disc, Faster Than a Stone, sees Jenkins hitting a "sweet spot" with his writing and melding tastes. And while label types were all wound up for Jenkins' first trip back to Tulsa following the release of the disc, Brandon was actually more excited for the New Year's show when I talked to him back in November.
The pairing with Dustin Pittsley is brilliant, especially for NYE, as listeners can expect the two to bring the best out of each other. And while Pittsley undoubtedly sets the bar high with his killer guitar playing, don't expect to be let down when Jenkins takes the stage. Even without the accompaniment of Soup Bone or one of his other previous foils, the guitars will blaze as Jenkins has sharpened his playing considerably. Given it's a New Year's party, don't be surprised if a few friends from the local music scene show up and share the stage.
If you're looking to push boundaries, however, you need look no further than right next door at The Blank Slate for the most intriguing bill of the night. Three of Tulsa most experimental acts will share the stage for individual sets before joining forces for a final New Year's party blowout to close the evening.
First, Dylan Aycock's primary project, The Doldrums, takes the stage at 9pm to get things started with the group exploring textures and grooves before turning the stage to indie-rock wunderkids, Callupsie. Once Callupsie proves why it is tabbed as the cream of Tulsa's indie rock crop, the stage clears for Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey to unleash an hour's worth of nearly all new material on its beloved fans.
Now, that triple bill alone would be worth the price of admission ($15 in advance or $20 at the door), but the evening doesn't end there. Right at midnight (if things go as planned) the three bands will combine forces and deliver the party-down set of the year with the music of Prince, Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie delivered as only JFJO and friends can.
When speaking with Brian Haas last week, I couldn't help but ask what inspired such a show, to which he openly and joyously responded, "Tulsa has been so insanely good to us (JFJO) for so long. We wanted to give Tulsa a gift for the New Year's Eve show, so it's our gift to the fans.
"People in this town are so open-minded. They let my band do pretty much whatever we want and continue to support us. I just feel like our crowd and Tulsa music fans in general put up with a lot of experimentation and changes and different things and are still supportive, so I wanted to give them a gift," he said.
"And I feel like they deserve some Prince and Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie, all delivered with a distinctly Jacob Fred flavor, of course."
It wouldn't be reaching too far to consider this show as much a celebration for JFJO as it is for the fans. Following the release of Lil' Tae Rides Again, the band saw what was expected to be a relatively low-key year turn into one if its biggest to date. Three east coast tours, two west coast tours, a Midwest run and four weeks in Europe held a host of highlights, but perhaps two of the group's most shining moments were encapsulated by an appearance at the Lincoln Center's Damrosch Bandshell in New York with Dr. John and Roberta Flack and JFJO's standout performance at this summer's DFest.
Without missing a beat, the group is already in the midst of working up new material for 2009, including modern rearrangements of Beethoven's Third and Sixth Symphonies that showcase the melodies and chord progressions that may otherwise get overlooked out of familiarity. "I know I've said this before, but we're 15 years into this and Jacob Fred is at its most creative point to date," Haas said.
If you're looking for some inspired tunes, a peek at what 2009 has in store or just a great party, you won't want to miss the action at First Street Music Hall on New Year's Eve- especially with the surprises Haas and company plan to bestow.
You'll undoubtedly be able to find a NYE party nearly anywhere you turn in Tulsa. The following are a few of the highlights already confirmed as of press time, ranging from local favorites to DJs to cover and tribute acts.
Plan B -- Hero Factor with SwapFox
Arnie's -- Cairde na Gael
Mercury Lounge -- Electric Rag Band
Marquee -- DJ's Robbo and Lynn K
Monolith -- Total Resistance and Crucial
Pour House -- Laron Simpson
Sunset Grill -- Bradio (presenting the Beatles' work from Revolver, Rubber Soul and Abbey Road)
Creek Nation Casino -- Heidi Thompson as Cher, Vince Gibbs as Prince and Bad Medicine as Bon Jovi
Of course, we have a week to work through before getting to New Years Eve and many UTW readers will be ready to get out and cut loose after spending time with family and friends during Christmas, and we've tracked down a few of the best options to decompress as well.
Friday night's highlights include My Tea Kind at Exit 6C, Tokyo Jones at Plan B, Klondike 5 at Soundpony and The Leveling with Operator Dead Post Abandoned at Monolith. If you're looking for a few good laughs, however, you'd be wise to glance to the north and consider checking out Pauly Shore at the Osage Events Center at Million Dollar Elm Casino. Tickets start at $25
Saturday night's big show is the Big Damn Holiday Jam at the First Street Music Hall Complex. One $10 cover will get you into all three clubs with Shannon Thomas, Ira Burton, Alex and the Anders and Chelsea Cope at Capellas; Kawnar, Physiques, Madewell, and Secret Post at Exit 6C; and Society Society, Standing Ape Count, X-Cal, We Stay Gold and more on the Blank Slate stage.
Elsewhere around town on December 27, Joey Farr and the Fuggins Wheat Band play Plan B, Steve Lidell and Jesse Aycock do an acoustic show at Ida Red, Monolith hosts Copy Copy with Algebra and The Starkweather Boys hold down the fort at Mercury Lounge. If you love good songwriting and one of the best modern rock voices to have left Tulsa, however, you'll want to stop in at Flytrap Music Hall for To Have Heroes (Andy Skib, formerly of MidWest Kings and currently in David Cook's band). The new EP is a solid collection of six singles that sees Skib start to find his own voice and identity outside of the band.
Whatever you do, choose wisely and be safe, because we've got a lot to look forward to in 2009.
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