I was tipped off this week to check out some local boys who have been covering the Southern rock and Red Dirt genres. It seems that during the past couple of years, Okie Down has quietly built a loyal following.
Normally, cover bands don't warrant much investigation, but the group has garnered enough buzz and, admittedly, I was pleasantly surprised. There's no posturing here, just a group of friends kicking back, playing for fun and a few weekend bucks. Defacto band leader and vocalist/guitarist, Dan Winders, perhaps said it best, "We don't want to front anybody. We're not representing ourselves as artists. We're just playing music for people to have a good time."
Formed roughly two years ago by Winders and lead guitarist Brent Wheeler, Okie Down has been playing off and on for more than 20 years. The late '80s and early '90s saw the pair in a couple of original bands with viable material.
The advent of Nirvana and grunge essentially killed off what Winders and Wheeler had been working on; and although they adjusted for awhile to maintain interest, they eventually moved on, remaining friends and playing together occasionally in different projects. This time, though, they're in it for the long haul.
"We do music that Okies like to hear. We're geared toward the culture of music and entertainment that people from Tulsa like to hear," Winders said. That means a somewhat different playlist than your standard house party band. The repertoire features a selection of Southern influenced blues-rock and Red Dirt covers that reflect the tastes of band members and their audience. Think John Lee Hooker and Lynyrd Skynyrd alongside Shooter Jennings and Zac Brown with a little Jason Boland, Johnny Lang and Steve Earle thrown in for good measure.
As for now, Okie Down is strictly a cover band; but with the history that Winders and Wheeler share, it's not surprising to hear that the two have started writing some original songs. Although Winders doesn't plan on rolling out any of it anytime soon, the tunes should pop up eventually. It'll be interesting to see how the band processes its influences and works its current niche.
Of course, Okie Down isn't a two man show but rather a quintet, rounded out by female vocalist Sloan Lile, bassist Chris Metzger and drummer Josh Winders. Yep, Okie Down features an uncommon father-son pairing that sees the two regularly play off one another.
Dan Winders said it was inevitable that his kids would be involved in music. His father owned a few pawn shops, which meant that musical instruments were always available. "I've always joked that there's Julliard and then there's kids growing up in a pawn shop," he joked, acknowledging the absurdity of the comparison. Nevertheless, it was a priceless experience that allowed his kids an opportunity to learn a variety of instruments.
Okie Down plays Crow Creek Tavern, 3534 S. Peoria Ave., this Saturday night, May 9 bringing a bit of Southern rock and Red Dirt to Brookside. "We get the full slice of Okie-ville," Winders said. You can check it out yourself this weekend.
Spring is here and festival season kicks off this weekend with the 8th annual Bixby BBQ and Music Festival at Washington Irving Memorial Park, just off Memorial Drive, South of 131st Street. Organized by the Bixby Rotary Club, Bixby BBQ will give proceeds from the event to a number of organizations, including Bixby Public Schools and Bixby Community Outreach Center.
In past years it's been known as the BBQ and Blues Festival, but things have been scaled back a bit this year, focusing on local talent and a variety of genres, making for a slightly more modest event.
BBQ remains the primary attraction with a competition officially sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbeque Society occurring on Saturday afternoon. As in years past, attendees can purchase "taster kits" to sample the goods for $5 and vote for their favorite team in the "People's Choice" category.
Friday night, May 8, Texas Roadhouse BBQ and Jake's Place are the spotlight providers alongside a variety of other food vendors, if you're not in a BBQ mood. Music begins early evening at the amphitheater with Ben Kilgore performing at 5pm, followed by Candy Coburn at 7pm and Mid-Life Crisis Band at 9pm.
Saturday's schedule sees Wanda Watson Band at 10am, followed by the Red Dirt Rangers at 11am, Travis Kidd at 1pm and David Dover Band at 3pm. Evening performances include Mary Cogan, Admiral Twin and The Plumbers at 5pm, 7pm and 9pm, respectively.
This casual, fun festival is a family-friendly event with a Kid Zone and a laid back atmosphere and admission is only $5 per carload.
The local scene has been a little sleepy lately, and we'll miss the First Street Music Hall while it's closed for renovations, but there's still plenty to do in town this week. Here are the highlights.
Yonder Mountain String Band kicks off the weekend early on Thursday, May 7, making up its postponed March date and combining the bluegrass and jam band crowds for a fun evening at Cain's Ballroom. A few doors down, Valina Trio and Ptiaradactyl take the stage at Soundpony for the post-show show. Of course, it's the first Thursday of the month, so don't forget about Cairde na Gael's standing gig at Arnie's.
Friday night's local talent includes Stephen Steinbrink with Hell-Kite! and John Jeffrey at Monolith; Vandevander and Pilgrim at Soundpony and a showcase featuring Trip-C, SocietySociety, Dogsway, Oso Closo (a must-see from Denton) and more at Flytrap Music Hall.
A couple of bigger shows hitting Tulsa on Friday, May 8 include the Love and Laughter Tour with Rickey Smiley and Fantasia at BOK Center and Shinedown with Halestorm and Aranda at Cain's Ballroom.
Saturday night sees Sugar Free All-Stars return to Arnie's and Caroline's Spine stop at Flytrap Music Hall to make-up last month's postponed show. Mercury Lounge welcomes The DeWayne Brothers on May 9 for the American crowd while metal fans should flock to The Marquee for Earth Crisis, Walls of Jericho, Reign Supreme and more.
Other highlights to round out the week include Lady Antebellum with Candy Coburn at Cain's on Sunday, My Life Without the Thrill Kill Kult on Tuesday at The Marquee and another Cain's show that's been building a minor buzz: Jack's Mannequin with Matt Nathanson and Erin McCarley on Wednesday, May 13.
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