When the doors open at Exit 6C Saturday night, the evening's lineup could be a hard sell, being Valentine's night, but that shouldn't be the case. Two incredibly strong, piano-driven, pop-rock acts, Oso Closo and Parachute Musical, share the stage with Tulsa's own Vandevander and provide a twist on the recently inactive genre.
While checking out this weekend's bill, I found myself particularly intrigued by Nashville-based Parachute Musical. While Oso Closo has played in Tulsa previously and has built a loyal following, this will be its first time to share the stage here with a band of complementary sound and style.
Fortunately, I was able to catch up with Parachute Musical leader Josh Foster by phone last week to get a picture of what the band is about and where it's headed.
Upon one's first listen, Parachute Musical may come off as just another piano band. However, repeated listens reveal something more, including a strong base in song structure and hooks. Comparisons to Ben Folds inevitably come up because of the instrumentation and also due to Foster's vocal register, but they are largely undeserved. Yes, Foster creates smart, witty pop music, but his lyrics are straightforward, more personal and far less snarky than most of Folds' work.
Foster said that the group formed in Washington D.C. in 2005 and included guitarist Tom Gilbert and drummer Ben Jacoby. The other members moved from the metro area, however, and Foster continued under the Parachute Musical moniker with a rotating lineup until he had an epiphany. "I finally went to show in DC; and it completely changed my perspective on my band. I knew it would never be as good as I wanted it to be with the lineup changing as it was," he said.
Eventually, Foster moved to Nashville in hopes of getting a gig with the band his former guitarist was playing in at the time. Once there, Jacoby landed in Nashville, too, and the three essentially picked up where they left off. The trio then acquired bassist Kyle Cornett to complete the group; that's when Parachute Musical found its chemistry.
Foster admitted that the group's current disc, Everything is Working Out Fine in Some Town, took on a life of its own, resulting in a completely different creature than what was expected when the band entered the studio. "It started out as a five-song demo, that we were going to shop to record labels," he said. "But once we got in the studio, I started writing more material and I was convinced that it went together and needed to be on this record."
"It really turned out to be a diary of the last two to three years of my life, in chronological order," he continued. "...and I was convinced that if the band became more popular, I wouldn't be able to make the record I wanted to make without some outside source: a record label, or management, or someone, having some influence on that. So this record is 100 percent, no 1,000,000 percent my record. It's not really pop-conscious, it's just what came out."
That personal feel is exactly what makes the songs so engaging. Now, with the record out, Parachute Musical isn't waiting for a major label to sign them; although, the door is open should someone come courting.
They remain focused on touring steadily and hitting new markets to continue growing its fan base and following.
Parachute Musical makes its first stop in Tulsa this weekend as part of a six-week run that will take the group into new markets in the mid and southwest. Previously, the band toured regionally in Tennessee and into the Northeast. "Our goal is to hit all the main areas four or five times over the next two years," Foster said.
"Whoever tours the most gets the most -- and right now, we have definitely not been one of those bands. We have toured about two weeks out of the month, but haven't stayed out on the road for three months at a time, because we've still got rent to pay and bills just like everybody else."
As for now, the current tour has Parachute Musical working the region with a handful of bands. Hopefully, this will be the first of multiple times we will see the group come through town. Paired with Oso Closo for the Tulsa stop, we'll get a full night of killer pop music.
If you haven't seen Oso yet, the band is worth the cover charge on its own, so Saturday's gig with Vandevander is sure to be an amazing show. Doors open at 9pm and cover is only $5, so don't miss it.
'Round the Block
It's mid-February, which means it's just about time for New Orleans jazz/funk/hip-hop/jam collective Galactic to come through town on its annual mid-winter Freezeout Tour, which hits Cain's Ballroom Wed., Feb. 18. It has been more than a year since the group last visited Tulsa and I was able to contact bassist Robert Mercurio for an update.
First off, Mercurio noted that the band didn't get to stop in Tulsa this time last year because "we got a gig in Russia... That was cool, but now we're coming back!"
The group has been touring heavily to promote its last album, From the Corner to the Block, which was released in August 2007 and revealed a more prominent hip-hop bent for the band. "We're towards the end of the Corner to the Block Tour and the more hip-hop influenced stuff. When we get to Tulsa, we'll be touring with less of a hip-hop focus. We'll have the trumpet and trombone player form Rebirth Brass Band with us, which brings out our more instrumental side. We'll be able to play some of the stuff we really haven't had a chance to play too often previously," said Mercurio.
That falls in line with the direction the band is headed musically with the next disc as well. "We're wrapping up this tour, then we're about a month away from finishing the new album. We've got a bunch of guests again, but this time the focus is more on New Orleans music. Not like Dr. John and those people, but more underground, unknown artists that are equally talented and gratifying for us to work with," he explained.
After wrapping up the new disc, the band will be touring Europe and South America in the late spring, then hitting the festival circuit with gigs at Wakarusa and Bonnaroo over the summer before looking at an August or September release for the new record.
"It's going to feature some great New Orleans music...just filtered through Galactic's lens and our approach."
As for next week's Tulsa show, Mercurio said, "We're really excited because we've got Mofro with us on that show. We always have JJ (Grey) sit in with us and he's got two horns with him right now too, so it should be a great night of music."
If you haven't seen Galactic yet, now's the perfect time to do it. The band is still channeling a little of the urban/hip-hop groove that permeated the last CD, but starting to cycle back to its jazz and funk roots as well, so it should provide a comprehensive picture of the band. Tickets are still available for $20 in advance or $22 at the door.
As usual, you don't have to look far to find a good live show in town this weekend. Even if you haven't been watching the calendar, we've got your weekly highlights to get you out the door and pointed in the right direction.
Thursday evenings have become the night, but this week has a couple of truly great shows to kick things off that might otherwise fly under the radar. First up is Citizen Cope at Cain's Ballroom on February 12. Tickets are $28 at the door for a show that may not have gotten much ink but has created a buzz in Tulsa with both jam band and singer/songwriter fans.
As cool as that show is, guitar enthusiasts will want to wander to the other side of the tracks to catch six string master Monte Montgomery at Flytrap Music Hall. Dustin Pittsley Band and Phil Marshall will open the show, so local music fans will be happy as well.
The party continues into Friday night, February 13, at the Ballroom as Cross Canadian Ragweed returns for a show at their favorite dance hall with Texas Hippie Coalition in tow. Tickets are $25 at the door and the show starts at 8:30pm.
If you feel like channeling your inner redneck on Friday, Larry the Cable Guy brings his act to the BOK Center, and Billy Joe Winghead rocks the Mercury Lounge with its distinctive brand of psychobilly madness. Meanwhile, The Monolith feeds the all-ages crowd with a cool triple bill featuring The Rocktanskis, The Rippers and Streetlight Fight and The Marquee covers the metalcore scene with Bleed the Sky and Straight Line Stitch. If you're looking for something a little edgier, however, you can't miss with Mayola and The Non at Soundpony on February 13.
Of course, you should already know where I'll be hanging out on Saturday night. Not only am I intrigued by Parachute Musical, but Vandevander always delivers a good show and Oso Closo has quickly become my favorite "wish they were from Tulsa" band. If you haven't seen them yet, you owe it to yourself to check them out. Nevertheless, there is still plenty more going on Valentine's night. G Love & Special Sauce returns to Cain's with Eric Hutchinson opening on February 14 with a $23 ticket; Mercury Lounge welcomes Jackson Taylor Band back to the Boston District; and Fat Lip brings "Valentine's Day Massacre" with Hospice, Ex Nihilo, 80 Proof, Delay, Te Decomposed, Hollywood Harlot and more to Flytrap Music Hall.
The other standout for Saturday evening, especially if you're looking for a more laid back night out is Ray Bonneville at All Souls Coffeehouse. Bonneville splits his time seasonally between Arkansas and Canada, so we're lucky to catch him coming through town. Tulsa's own Little Joe McLerran will open the show, perhaps a little warm up as he prepares to represent T-Town at the Annual Blues festival in Memphis later this spring.
Things wind down a bit going into the early week, but The Roundup Boys are still holding their monthly dance and "Valentine's Roundup" at the Ballroom on Sunday evening at 6pm.
The rest of the week is fairly quiet, so check out your standing gigs. Or better yet, stop in at Capella's on Tuesday night, February 17, when Brandon and Dustin (of My Solstice) resume their acoustic gig. I've been tipped off that they plan on tapping into the Beatles and Zeppelin catalogues this time around.
Finally, don't miss out Wednesday night, February 18, when Galactic brings the funk (and rock, jazz, and whatever else) to the Ballroom at 8pm. It's a staple show on my annual calendar.
And, just to peek into next week, UTW and Tulsa Press Club hosts the monthly SoundProof concert, which is back in action after a two-month hiatus. RadioRadio takes the mic on February 19. Music starts at 6pm. Stop in the historic Atlas Life Building, Fourth and Boston, for great drink specials and live music from a local favorite.
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