While a number of Tulsa music fans are well aware of Sherree Chamberlain, it's understandable if even more are unfamiliar with the singer/songwriter from Oklahoma City. Although she has appeared at Dfest (to sterling reviews) the past two summers, Tulsa is largely unexplored territory for Chamberlain, who has played here perhaps a half dozen times during the past two and a half years.
When discussing her absence last week, Chamberlain admitted to laying low, especially in Tulsa. "I've been in college and really just needed a fire lit under my ass," she said. "I just recently realized that if I want to do this, then I need to be more decisive and aggressive, which really isn't my nature."
Although Chamberlain's performance activity has been reduced during the past year or so, it wasn't a lack of motivation. After nearly three years working on recording her debut CD, she has finally finished the project, with CDs currently caught up in the duplication and manufacturing process.
"It's taken a long time," Chamberlain said. "And it got to the point where playing shows was more discouraging than encouraging. I didn't have a product or anything to put in people's hands, so I felt like I couldn't move forward. I decided that instead of burning out, I'd chill a little bit and not push things too hard."
The extended wait and personal strife reflects in the new disc's title, A Wasp in the Room. Chamberlain revealed that the title appeared as a fluke, with the guys from Kunek mistakenly circulating that was the title after she had blogged on MySpace about there actually being a wasp in her room. After the rumor built and she received positive feedback, however, she decided to run with it.
"Ultimately, I decided to go with it as it seemed appropriate because it's been such a long time in process and been such a burden," Chamberlain said. "I turned into a worry-wart about it and it became the thing I couldn't avoid. Instead of the elephant in the room that most people would refer to, it was more of a wasp to me, a pesky, sometimes painful annoyance that I couldn't get away from."
With her debut CD finally completed, Chamberlain is booking more shows, both to reacquaint herself with older fans and to establish herself in a few new markets. When originally booking this weekend's show at The Marquee, Chamberlain planned on having the new disc in hand. As of press time, she was unsure as to whether the disc would be back from manufacturing, but she's prepared to move forward nonetheless, presenting the material to a Tulsa audience along with a few new songs.
Although the long wait has been a source of inner conflict for Chamberlain, things ultimately worked out for the best. After beginning with the guys from Kunek, a series of busy schedules and eventually a crashed hard drive saw Chamberlain move the sessions to Black Watch Studios with Chad Copelin. From there, the pieces fell into place and then led to a host of guest musicians appearing on the disc, including Nate Walcott of Bright Eyes for string arrangements, bassist Justin Medal-Johnsen from Beck and Nine Inch Nails and Sufjan Stevens' guitarist and drummer.
The result is a delicate balance between Chamberlain's singer/songwriter roots, a touch of Americana and a cinematic, indie-rock sensibility, courtesy of her guests and current band members, who each have a background in indie-rock. Sherree (an English Education major who taught freshman English last year) said that many of her songs aren't stories so much as extended metaphors.
"My personal favorite is probably 'Windmill Wings,' which is really a metaphor for me struggling to maintain order and sanity in my own life," she said. Another tune, commonly referred to as "The Circus Song" tells the story of a person who is afraid to go to the circus, but finally goes and enjoys the experience. "That one's really a metaphor for me conquering my fears," she said.
Armed with a catalogue of introspective, personal songs and a stunningly tight band, Sherree Chamberlain is poised to become one of the region's most promising young songwriters. She plans to return to the studio in the next couple of weeks to begin work on a follow-up EP.
Chamberlain's Tulsa headlining debut will be Friday night, June 12, at The Marquee with support from Van Risseghem and Cecada, as well as opening act Fly Me Anywhere. Doors open at 7pm and cover is only $8.
Ever since 1974, Freaker's Ball has been a Halloween tradition in Tulsa, with the multi-band showcase spotlighting local talent. Currently overseen by Davit Souders and Diabolical Productions, his vision for the event included a spring season sister event, Ballroom Blitz, which he spun off in the spring of 2005.
Well, summer is here and the Blitz is back this weekend with nearly 30 bands representing all styles of music in the Tulsa area. Doors open at 6:30pm and music starts at 7pm when the Blitz takes over Cain's Ballroom Friday evening, June 12.
If you're looking for a crash course on the Tulsa music scene, this is the place to go. Featured bands include: GHOSTS, Hiphopotamus, Bait, Stevedore, I Said Stop!, Acoustic Ross, Mariachi Tulsa, Steve Lidell, First Lady Assassins, Celtic Cheer, Chuck Cooley and the Demon Hammers and more. Tickets are only $8 in advance, $9 day of the show or $10 at the door for more bands than you can keep track of.
Another week has passed and the weather has moved from cool and pleasant to downright hot. Here at Urban Tulsa, however, we know this means our readers are looking to get out, blow off some steam and cool off on the weekends. There's no better way to do it than with some live music and cool drinks.
Thursday evening always has a standing gig or two to fall back on like Dustin and Jessie's Higher Education at McNellie's, but we've also got a couple other good shows coming our way. This week, Flytrap Music Hall opens the weekend with Freeway and DRG on June 11. Perhaps the most promising show of the night, however, is a free concert by one of Christian music's best new songwriters, John Waller at Jenks' Riverwalk Amphitheater. Arrive early if you're going, because it's sponsored by KXOJ and will be packed.
I've already hit on Friday night's two biggest gigs with Sherree Chamberlain and Ballroom Blitz, but that's far from the only game in town. If you're looking for something different, Flytrap hosts the return of Big Smith while Starkweather Boys take up residence at Mercury Lounge and Hiphopotamus and Huckleberry Project light things up at Soundpony on June 12.
Saturday night's big show is Baby Bash at Flytrap for the R&B and hip-hop crowd. Elsewhere around town on June 13, you can find Billy Joe Winghead at Mercury Lounge, Miles Ralston at Riverwalk Amphitheater and The Unit Breed with Ptiaradactyl at Soundpony.
Sunday sees shtick-metal band Psychostick stop in at The Marquee with Delay The Day, Trip C, ESP and Two Minute Hate opening the show, while Emery headlines the same stage on Monday, June 15, with Closure in Moscow, The Dawn Armada and Restless Ribbon filling out the bill.
Finally, rock legend Levon Helm (formerly of The Band) will headline Cain's Ballroom on Tuesday night, June 16. There are still a few tickets left, but don't wait too long as it promises to sellout. This one's a show for everyone from classic rockers to jam band fans to returning Bonnaroo attendees.
Get your vote on!
Before you hang it up for the weekend, don't forget to check out all of our nominees for this year's Absolute Best Music Awards and vote for the best in each category, from rock to rap to Red Dirt and the Christian music categories. If anyone should know, it's our UTW readers. Visit urbantulsa.com for more.
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