Improvisational jam sessions aren't anything new--especially in Tulsa. Beyond the fairly free-flowing and loose vibe that was implied by the "Tulsa Sound" of the '70s, that spirit of cooperation and interplay has continued during the years.
Perhaps it's become even more prominent in the recent past as open sessions like Tom Skinner's Science Project have spawned other like-minded gatherings, ranging from Dustin & Jesse's Higher Education (every Thursday night at Eclipse) to the Brian Haas-led open jazz jams held at The Continental before it closed, and on to Matt Fisher's Songwriter's Night and even the Righteous Eagle ambient jam project, which Fisher led at The Colony.
Most of those sessions feature players that we associate more closely with the Americana, blues and Red Dirt genres, if not with jazz circles. Just because those are the styles or players we more readily identify with improvisational jams, however, doesn't mean roots-based players have a corner on the market. After all, creating music should be an organic process regardless of the style or genre.
Yes, most of the local jam-oriented gigs have been dominated by artists either directly or peripherally associated with the local collective commonly known as Organum; and they fit that role quite well. Occasionally., though, I wonder what might happen if a different set of musicians stepped up to try the same type of free-form jam? And more specifically, what if those artists came from bands that were considerably more commercial or hard-rock minded?
In all honesty, it could be an absolute train wreck. It could also be an unexpected homerun. If you've ever wondered that, this weekend is the time to satisfy that curiosity.
Saturday, Nov. 28, Mercury Lounge hosts the debut of Team Bad Guy, a free-form jam session comprised of a group of not so common suspects. Although the concept (if you can call it that) was the brain-child of My Solstice guitarist Dustin Howard, he doesn't consider it anything groundbreaking but rather a natural expression for those involved.
According to Howard, the idea began as an extension of the creative process as he knows it. "When I'm by myself, I like to play with looping and some different things," he said. "The only way I really know how to play is to just play, not to be 'practicing' or anything."
The second piece of the puzzle came almost as naturally. As with many bands, My Solstice rents practice space in a building along with several other bands. When not holding band rehearsals, those still hanging at the space frequently end up hanging out, drinking a few beers and playing music that comes about organically.
According to Howard, it was during one of those jam sessions that he thought, "Why aren't we doing this and making a little money while we're at it? Not to sound like a sell-out or anything, but we do it anyway..."
Howard bounced the idea off a few friends and started putting together what has been dubbed "Team Bad Guy," a name he admittedly lifted from another friend's local softball team that makes a big deal about who's allowed on the team and being the bad boys of the league.
To Howard, the name was not only humorous, but seemed fitting. "You know that song by Pantera 'Good Friends and a Bottle of Pills?'" he asked, chuckling.
"That's pretty much the inspiration for this group. This IS Team Bad Guy. When you put these guys in a room, what's going to happen is just going to happen," he said.
"Although I can't tell you just how it will play out," Howard said. "I can guarantee one thing: it's going to get loud."
Although Howard may have thought this project through and helped book its first gig this weekend, he insists he's not the leader. "Team Bad Guy may play some gigs without me," he said. "And that's fine with me." After all, to Howard, this is mostly a concept and about creating music naturally.
When looking at the current lineup, you can't help but wonder what might happen. This is definitely and interesting hybrid of musicians with Lance Reynolds (of Sam & the Stylees and JIRRHAFF) and Adam Lair (of Caroline's Spine and Mercy Street) holding down the rhythm section on drums and bass, respectively. Ben Mosier (formerly Upside and SwampFox, currently Mercy Street) and Matt McHan (Caroline's Spine, Mercy Street) round out the group on guitars while Howard will also play guitar and some piano and each of the members will likely rotate instruments throughout the evening.
Alhtough the roster may sound like a giant wildcard at first, after considering the players, it starts to make sense. As Howard explained it, "There's a reason why each of these musicians were picked for this project. Obviously, there's their caliber of musicianship, but each of them is experienced and has the ability to get in a room and just sound good."
That's going to be an essential ingredient for this band as the group will be flying totally off the cuff. Only one rehearsal has been planned in advance, and that one was primarily to make sure the rhythm section is locked in and ready to roll. After that, all bets are off and only those who attend will know how it really all goes down.
The group has no singer, and according to Howard that's just fine. Eventually, the group may open up a mic to some invited guests to sing and improv with them, but it's too early in the game to predict just how that would work. It may very well also incorporate more players and different instruments, with Howard mentioning the possibility of Ryan Tedder playing horns and ideally making it an open jam for those who have the chops and improvisational abilities to sit in as the mood strikes.
Be it a success or a tragedy, it will surely be an interesting night for improvisational rock fans. If you're looking for a different vibe and an experimental spirit, you'll want to check out Team Bad Guy Saturday night, November 28, at Mercury Lounge. The gig starts at 10pm.
Not to be overlooked by any means, local guitar master and ABoT Music award nominee Joesf Glaude performs Saturday night as well in what has become an annual event called the B.U.S. (blankets, underwear and socks) concert for the Tulsa Day Center for the Homeless at Resurrection Church (4804 S Fulton, just off of 51st Street, between Yale and Sheridan).
Glaude has headed up this concert and event for roughly 11 years with a level of success that has allowed it to expand to a series of shows with Christ Presbyterian hosting an event in August and Southern Hill United Methodist hosting another in February. While it does allow Glaude to make and all too infrequent concert appearance in his hometown, it also serves the more important purpose of drawing attention and providing for the needs of the Tulsa Day Center for the Homeless.
Especially as winter and cold weather approaches, the most common need of those who are homeless are underwear, socks and blankets. With that in mind, this annual concert is held with tickets and admission covered by donations of new men's socks and underwear and new or clean and in good condition blankets, all of which will be donated to the Tulsa Day Center for distribution.
When asked how he got involved in this particular project, Glaude shared that he was the Committee Action Director at his parish, which held a BUS Sunday every year. In a year when the congregation changed priests, the event was nearly forgotten, but instead of letting it pass by, Glaude stepped up to do a concert as a reminder of the project and need.
"We got a much better response from the concerts than the previous efforts because it was more than just my church getting involved. This isn't a religious event, it's a concert event. It includes everyone and it serves a good cause," said Glaude.
Although Glaude is the featured performer, he will be incorporating a handful of friends and associates for this weekend's show to cover a wide spectrum of music. Glaude will perform a handful of classical guitar and violin duets with violinist James Ruggles before transitioning and finishing the show with a jazz combo performance which will also feature Franklin Birt on guitar, Marlin Bills on bass and Eastman Curtis on djembe. In between, you can expect Gluade will likely skate through a variety of styles, much like his CDs.
During the past few years, Glaude has been busy recording discs like Blues for Skip and Song from the Pourhouse and touring extensively across the US. He has also been at work on guitar and violin duet disc, which this show will serve as something of a preview for, and another jazz album, both of which will hopefully be released early next year.
Glaude has long been a favorite of guitar and instrumental music lovers in Tulsa, but a lack of appropriate venues has limited his live exposure here, although he told me quite openly "I'll play anywhere, even a street corner, so long as I get to play."
Saturday night you won't have to scout any street corners. Just bring a donation of socks, underwear or blankets and enjoy a casual evening of music and help the Tulsa Day Center in the process. Your next opportunity to see him will be a Tulsa Guitar Society show on December 13, but this weekend will be a full night to showcase his talent, so you won't want to miss it.
Even though its Thanksgiving weekend, that doesn't mean things slow down on the concert calendar. If anything, things are a bit busier as family and friends are home for a visit and many have a long weekend to relax and enjoy. That said, here are a few tips to get you pointed out the door this weekend.
For those looking to escape the family and relax or blow off some steam on Thursday evening, you've got a few options. If you need to dance, The Marquee hosts Thursday Night Get-Down with DJ Moody. Anyone looking for something a little more relaxed and eclectic won't want to forget about Chris Becker and The Souvenirs playing some killer bluegrass at The Colony.
If you're looking for just plain silliness and fun, however, you can't go wrong with GHOSTS annual Thanksgiving party and Christmas CD release party at Soundpony. This year's edition is entitled Slave to the Claus and you can expect it to be just as over-the-top as the past two Christmas CDs. The Thanksgiving show is ridiculous, it's silly and it's always a great time.
Friday night, November 27, has a few shows to pick from as well, whether you want to dig into the Red Dirt with Jason Boland and the Stragglers, kick up some roots music with Electric Rag Band at Mercury Lounge, or party with Hi-Fi at Arnie's. There's also a blues jam with Matt Fisher and Dave Morrow at The Colony or The Physiques CD release at The Marquee with guests Cody Clinton and the Bishops, Admiral Twin and Motive for Movement opening the show.
You also can't afford to overlook singer-songwriter Autumn (see page 47) as she opens what will eventually become a monthly concert series at The Church (304 S. Trenton). Yes, as Mike Easterling shared a few weeks ago, history is coming back to life at the old Tulsa Sound stomping grounds (see "Feels Like Religion" online at urbantulsa.com)
Saturday evening is busy as well with a few key shows to consider. Even if you're not into Joesf Glaude or the improv-rock of Team Bad Guy, you can still get your jazz/funk on with GoGo Plumbay at The Colony, dance to DJ Moody's Dance revolution at Soundpony or rock out with Rev Theory, Chuck Cooley and Demon Hammer, Drive By Sonata and Stone Cold Sober while helping Cancer Sucks! by attending the show at Cain's Ballroom for only $10. If downtown, indie and dance fans will likely want to check out Recorder at Crystal Pistol, with an after-party featuring DJ Robbo and Lynn K.
If you're looking for a flat-out party, however, you can never go wrong as the Guinness flows in mass quantities with Larkin at Arnie's.
Finally, the weekend wraps late with a great electronic improve show by EOTO at Flytrap Music Hall on Monday night, November 30 with Mountain Sprout opening. Whatever you choose, be safe and enjoy your holiday weekend.
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