New bands appear and vaporize on a daily basis in Tulsa, or any other city for that matter. They are subject to a variety of conditions that contribute to their success or demise.
And while most will work through a creative cycle and break up, it's the few that find that perfect harmony of talent, hard work and luck that inspire so many more to give it another try.
While it's too early to say for sure, we've got one rising band that not only seems to have all the essential elements, but is also positioning itself to break out and have a long and successful career.
Stars Go Dim unceremoniously popped up on the local radar with a music-less MySpace site and a couple of blog postings just less than two years ago. While that seemed like an odd move, it may have been a stroke of genius that has helped build an incredibly loyal fanbase and a foundation for what is yet to come.
Comprised of bassist Michael Wittig and drummer Lester Estelle, both formerly of Pillar, along with Pillar's touring guitarist Joey Avalos and singer Chris Cleveland, the band provided those who caught on early a window to the band as it was just forming, learning how its creative chemistry would work.
In hindsight, it was a risky proposition: what if it didn't work? It might have burned bridges with old fans that had faith in the new project. Fortunately, that wasn't the case.
Fast forward to spring 2009. Stars Go Dim has won a couple of songwriting contests and awards, released a five-song EP to keep fans' attention and worked toward a full-length CD release. Based on some of the strongest pop songwriting Tulsa has produced since Hanson, the group has scored opening slots for national acts such as Switchfoot, Daughtry and Sara Barielles, among others. It seems only natural that the group should be tapped for SXSW in Austin, a trip that saw the group play three showcase performances.
Wittig admitted that South by Southwest was kind of overwhelming. "With so much going on, it was hard to take it all in. It was good for us, though, and once we got home we got a few phone calls from it... a couple possible touring opportunities and some international stuff. We'll see how it goes."
Following SXSW, the band did a short tour across the Southwest, playing Albuquerque and Phoenix before making a key stop in San Diego, where the band played a benefit show for the Invisible Children organization and made a live appearance on a Top 40 radio station. The band got to play five songs in the studio.
Perhaps the biggest gig to date was yet to come, however. After San Diego, the group stopped in Los Angeles where it was scheduled to be a part of the "Mayer Cruise," a week-long cruise and concert package with headliner John Mayer. Wittig said it was one of the most exciting experiences of his 11-year music career thus far, but it was one that almost didn't happen.
"There was a contest to get on the cruise and I didn't want to do it. We've done a few contests, and I didn't want to wear the fans out.
One of our fans, though, told us we'd be crazy not to, that we had to do it. I still didn't want to do it, though, so I gave the fan the info and told them to set it up. After that, I completely forgot about it until I got a call from Brian Ball, Ernie Ball's son (Ernie Ball guitars sponsored the contest), and I knew we had won."
The cruise not only provided the band an opportunity to play three times before a captive audience and attract new fans, but it also provided some great networking opportunities. Mayer, himself, was aware of the group and was familiar with its winning entry and took the time to chat with them. The group was able to build relationships with other groups on the cruise as well.
Still, it was work. According to Wittig, the group printed more than 1,000 postcards promoting the group's show on the main stage that week and was handing them out constantly. The cruise liner also had 10 levels with roughly 100 rooms on each floor; and the band hit each floor, putting a card in each door roughly three hours before its main performance. As a result, they played to a huge audience and earned many new fans.
Wittig was humble about the band's efforts. "We've made a few mistakes, but we keep going. The biggest thins--and I've told other bands this--is if you want to do this, it has to be an all day, every day job. If you're not sleeping, you're thinking 'What can I do for the band to get it farther?'"
Wittig said that the band's success can be attributed to connecting with fans. "It's work. We're running a journal and MySpace and twitter, but it's all about connecting with people and making them feel like they're a part of it all.
"Honestly, this has all been kind of unreal for us--the band happening and taking off this fast. Right now, we're just taking it slow and playing a few shows, preparing for the CD release on August 4."
In the meantime, one of those "few shows" is Saturday night, May 30, at The Marquee. The show starts at 7pm with Pomeroy, Woodshed Revival, Restless Ribbon and Jason Ferguson filling out the bill. It's a great opportunity to see what promises to be Tulsa's next big pop act and get a preview of the new material on the coming album.
Summer's just around the corner and as the weather clears up and warms, it's a great time to get out and see some bands. As always, we've got the highlights.
Thursday night, May 28 is the night to hang out on Main Street. Singer/songwriter fans will want to be at Cain's ballroom for Ben Folds with Rachel Unthank and The Winterset, while indie-rockers can hang at Soundpony with D Numbers and Callupsie.
Friday, May 29 has a few good shows including the Johnny Polygon "Group Hug" CD release party with The Royals, Jesus Maserati and Kawnar. Also on Friday, Mercury Lounge hosts Mountain Sprout, and Flytrap Music Hall has Twista with Get Wetter Band.
Friday's biggest show, however, is easily the return of Ghostland Observatory. If you missed the group last November, you'll have to be at The Ballroom Friday night. As an added bonus, the duo was scheduled to be in the studio during the winter, so we'll likely get to preview some new tunes!
Saturday night, May 30, is the night for Stars Go Dim, but if you're looking for something different, you can always hit The Monolith for the Tulsa Hope Music and art show with Scales of Motion, Algebra and Teen Lions, or hang out at Soundpony for Heavy Handed Soul and Soulfingaz.
The week wraps up with big shows at Flytrap, including Framing Hanley with My Solstice and Recue Signals on Sunday night, May 31 and Better Than Ezra on Tuesday, June 2.
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