Radio airplay is a key to the success for local bands. While Z104.5, The Edge, has the two-hour long Homegroan show on Sunday nights, fans still don't have many opportunities to hear local music on the radio. Unfortunately, radio is a business, which doesn't give these bands much of a chance when lined up against commercial rock and advertising.
Last year, The Edge helped bridge the gap by launching www.TulsaOriginalMusic.com. Dedicated to Tulsa and Oklahoma artists, the Web site provides a comprehensive listing of local shows. More importantly, however, the site plays local music 24 hours a day without interruption. This isn't a loop or a podcast, either. It's full-on internet radio, a movement gaining momentum.
Friday night, Feb. 6, The Edge celebrates the redesign of TulsaOriginalMusic.com with its second annual Tulsa Original Music showcase at Cain's. The station hopes to repeat the success of last year's show, which brought 1,100 fans to the Ballroom. This year's lineup is every bit as strong, so it shouldn't be hard to draw an even larger crowd.
Streamlined and ready to rock, The Edge pulls out four of Oklahoma's most popular rock bands for this weekend's show and augments the bill by adding a couple of singer/songwriters to play while the bands rotate equipment between sets. Although this year's lineup is similar to last year's in that the station recruited a couple of veterans, it's far from a repeat with a couple of new acts added to the mix.
Even if you haven't seen the band in concert, you've likely heard My Solstice on The Edge. The band's first single, "Let Me Stay," made the jump from strictly local programming to getting spins during the mid-day and drive-time hours. It's also garnered attention from The Buzz in Oklahoma City. Considering the band has raised its profile by touring regionally and landing opening gigs for acts like Plain White T's, Sick Puppies, Taking Back Sunday and Switchfoot, it's only fitting that the group should be highlighted again as one of Tulsa's rising stars.
The return of Congress of a Crow to the Showcase will be a swan song; the group recently announced that this performance will be its last. One of Tulsa's hardest working modern rock bands, the band goes out on a high note, playing the esteemed Ballroom one last time.
The spotlight addition to this year's concert is Oklahoma City band Aranda. Although the group hasn't played frequently in Tulsa, it has become one of OKC's most popular acts, attracting the attention of A&R executives from Epic Records and gaining limited national radio airplay. What people haven't realized is that the title track of Kelly Clarkson's new album is a cover of Aranda's single "All I Ever Wanted." After winning her over with the title track, Dameon Aranda also co-wrote another track for the record, which will undoubtedly bring the band even more outside interest.
Finally, Sam and the Stylees wrap up the bill with a healthy dose of reggae to keep things loose and fun. According to Edge Promotions Director Ryan Giles, The Stylees were brought in for two reasons: First, it changes up the sound and keeps the night's music fresh and inviting.
More importantly, however, no matter what audience the band plays to, everyone always gets into the groove and enjoys themselves.
Giles also noted that this year the stations wanted to show some love to local singer/songwriters as well. As a result, Dante Schmitz (an alumnus) and comedic songwriter Acoustic Ross fill in the gaps and perform acoustic sets between the other acts.
If you're looking for a chance to catch some of the local scene's hottest rising bands, the Tulsa Original Music Showcase is the perfect opportunity to do just that. Tickets are $7 in advance or $10 at the door for and doors open at 6:30pm this Friday, February 6. Music starts at 7pm and it's an all ages show, giving fans both young and old a chance to catch up with some bands they probably haven't had a chance to see during the past couple of months.
Another highly anticipated show, The Disco Biscuits make its first return to Tulsa since last summer's DFest. The band plays Thursday evening, Feb. 5, at Cain's Ballroom.
After following Ghostland Observatory and closing out the second stage on Friday night, The Biscuits are now a popular act here in T-Town. Tying jazz and classical music into its electronic/experimental/jam rock hybrid, the group has gradually drawn fans from across genres.
Between appearances, The Disco Biscuits took an extended break to recharge as well as write and record a new album. The album is a departure from the band's "classic" sound, having tapped Philly-based hip-hop production duo Don Chee Gro and Dirty Harry for five songs as well as Simon Posford and Benji Vaughan (from Twisted Records UK) for an additional five tracks.
Keyboardist Aron Magner, however, downplayed the differences: "Sure, we're pushing the envelope, but in the end, it still sounds like Disco Biscuits. It just sounds like Disco Biscuits in 2009. It's not like we did it just to change things up, the band has been together for 13 years and evolved over time."
According to Magner, the biggest change was the creative process itself. "Basically, we went in with the concept that we needed to make a new album," he said. "Previously, we had already worked up the songs live and people had already heard them."
This time, the band started with a clean slate. The group also had a new place to create, adding to the freshness of the experience.
"We acquired a studio in Philadelphia about three years ago that already had some history with it -- Boyz II Men and DJ Jazzy Jeff have recorded there," he explained. "Somehow, we got our hands on it and it's been our hang- a place to eat, to rehearse. So we were like, we've got a studio and no label, no deadlines. It was interesting to just start making music."
Composition took on a new face with different members bringing ideas from home or presenting a new concept or bridge. While everyone contributed, it wasn't in the same manner as working up songs from a live rehearsal. "I might work on something and leave, then John (Gutwillig, guitarist) would come in at 2am and add to it," said Magner.
With a different approach to songwriting and a studio at its disposal, the band took on a new life and tone and finally emerged with 15 tracks for an album scheduled for release in late spring. With the disc completed, the band has returned to the road.
"We've been sitting on these songs instead of road testing them, waiting to get out and play them live, so that's really exciting," Magner said, bubbly about being out on tour again. "Our sound has definitely had resurgence and we're excited to play together again. The break really refreshed us and we're psyched to be back out on tour."
The group returned to the stage in December with a show in Jamaica and in NYC that revealed a handful of the new songs. Circulated recordings of those shows reveal an evolution of the band's sound, adding some intoxicating grooves and textures with the new tunes, but everything intertwines amazingly well. Fans who saw the band back in July should expect a completely different show on Thursday.
"You'll definitely see a whole new set," Magner said. "We just dropped six new songs in over the last four weeks and we'll be playing more as the new album drops."
Thursday night's show at Cain's Ballroom will be a great opportunity to see what the next chapter holds for The Disco Biscuits.
Go South (by Southwest), Young Lady!
Yes, I know you've all been dying to find out who won this year's South by Southwest Music Festival essay contest. Our winner receives two passes to the festival in Austin. This year's guest correspondent for Urban Tulsa Weekly is local music lover Rachel Masterson. Readers can look forward to her first-hand account of the big festival. If you didn't win, now is the time to suck up and try to win over her love (read: buddy pass).
If you just can't wait until Friday to start your weekend, then don't. As is often the case, we've got plenty to get you jumpstarted on a Thursday evening. If the aforementioned Disco Biscuits gig at Cain's isn't what it takes to get you out the door, you can check out Dustin Pittsley doing an acoustic "artist sessions" at Ida Red early in the evening and/or follow him over to McNellie's for his Higher Education gig later that night. Of course, local commercial rock fans can check out Bait, Ziff, Baron Von Swagger and Out Of Time at Flytrap Music Hall on Feb. 5 as well.
Obviously, Friday night's best bet is the Tulsa Original Music Showcase. But just down the sidewalk, The Marquee hosts another installment of Assimilation and this week it's Skinny Puppy Tribute Night, which will mix up the party a bit.
We've also got a double dose of Red Dirt downtown on February 6 with Randy Crouch playing Exit 6C and Red Dirt Rangers sharing the stage with Whirligig on Friday night. Meanwhile, Mercury Lounge hosts The R.I.P. Tides, and Warcola rocks The Monolith if you're willing to step outside the Brady and Blue Dome Districts.
If you're sick and tired of the ice and cold, your best bet to warm up on Saturday night is a short drive to the northeast to the Osage Event Center for "Mardi Gras Mambo." Inside, things will stay warm as The Neville Brothers share the stage with Dr. John and the Lower 911. The groups bring a bit of New Orleans to Green Country. Tickets are $35.
Of course, if you're looking for a different kind of "warming up," look no further than The Marquee on Sat., Feb. 7 for Kira Von Sutra's Birthday Burlesque. Nine lovely ladies (Kira Von Sutra, Cardinal Cyn, Firefly, Hottie McNaughty, Lydia McLane, Ruby Devine, Charlotte Satire and Veronica Valentine) will share the stage with national touring bands Brutally Frank and Midwest Monster for one heck of a blowout.
Elsewhere on Saturday, The Frontier Brothers play Soundpony. Red Wood Rising is at Ida Red. Flytrap hosts Yellow Pansies with Brady Bledsoe, The Okes and Baron Von Swagger.
Looking at the rest of the week, Sunday night sees As I Lay Dying headline Cain's on Sunday, Feb. 8, with Protest the Hero and My Children My Bride for $23 at the door. Hip-hop/jam hybrid act Rehab returns to Flytrap Music Hall on Wednesday with PDA and Society Society opening the show.
By far the standout show of the week, however, should be Gov't Mule at Cain's Ballroom on Tuesday night, Feb. 10. Tickets are only $22 in advance and Mule always rocks the house. If you don't catch Warren Haynes this week, you'll have to wait until the summer and shell out some fat cash to catch him on the Allman Brothers' 40th anniversary tour this summer.
Finally, tickets for Bruce Springsteen's April 7 BOK Center concert go on sale this Saturday morning at 10am. This will be The Boss's first official return to Oklahoma since he played Norman on The Darkness tour in 1978, so expect tickets to disappear quickly.
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