By now, we've all heard about the devastation from the January earthquake in Haiti.
In all likelihood, it's become old news for many of us and passed many people's consciousness. Nonetheless, the Caribbean country is still in dire need and struggling to recover, as it will for quite some time. That's precisely why a group of Oklahoma musicians is coming together Sunday, March 14, at Cain's Ballroom for a concert to benefit the country still in shock from the disaster.
Organized by Scott and Amy Evans, Okies for Healing Haiti will step up and do its part to keep the Haitian cause and raise funds to help the ongoing relief efforts.
According to Scott, the concert really came about via Facebook, when his wife Amy posted that she wanted to put together a benefit to aid in the relief efforts. As a member of Medicine Show, Evans has plenty of friends and as could be expected, they stepped up in droves to do their part in assisting the cause.
After her initial posting and beginning to receive a positive response, Amy Evans created an event page and it all ballooned from there. With a full roster in hand, the Evans contacted Chad Rodgers at Cain's Ballroom, who donated the room, and the show was set.
With little to no overhead (all performers are donating their time), all proceeds from the show will be donated to Yéle Haiti.
The resulting show will be a full day of Red Dirt and simple songwriting and playing to celebrate life and help others.
Doors open at 3pm, and the music will start at 4pm, beginning with a pair of acoustic, in the round song circles with some of our favorite and rising musicians coming together and trading tunes. Initial plans call for two groups of five songwriters to come together to swap stories, tunes and inspiration.
Those currently confirmed to participate in the acoustic portion of the show include Susan Herndon, John Fullbright, Tom Skinner, Jesse Aycock, Steve Rice and Brandon Jackson (of No Justice), Jeff Martinson, Britni Hoover, Steven Curtis and Paul Roper.
Once 6pm rolls around, the bands will come out for roughly an hour's set each, with plans for the music to wrap up around 11pm. As the evening rolls on, you can count on lively sets from Freakshow, Dustin Pittsley Band, Whirligig, Red Dirt Rangers, and a reunion performance by Evans' old band, Medicine Show.
All in all, it will be a great night of music for all ages, with a vein of Red Dirt running through the entire evening. John Wooley will even be stepping up to serve as Master of Ceremonies and help keep the evening moving along as best he can.
Anytime Medicine Show comes together to step on stage again, it automatically creates a buzz. After nearly a decade apart, the band's songs and legacy within the Red Dirt scene still stand strong, but Evans is quite humble about it all.
"You say it creates a buzz for the fans, but it creates a buzz for us, too," Scott said last week. "We're like: 'What songs do we want to play?' and 'Can we still play them as well as we used to?'"
After roughly 10 years since disbanding, the group might not be as tight as it was at its peak, but fans still find the group inspiring. Unfortunately for those fans, reunion performances have been few and far between, with the band generally only finding time to unite for benefits like this.
On the bright side, we've also been fortunate enough to have the group come together twice within the past six months, as this show follows the band's appearance at Red Dirt Rangers' 20th anniversary show this past fall.
"We had a lot of fun getting together for the Rangers show," Scott said, "and it was fun to play without all the overhead of renting a room, doing promotions and all of that. It was just a matter of showing up with our gear and playing, which was great."
Considering the fact that Scott's wife is the one who conceived of and planned this benefit show, it seems only natural that Medicine Show should step up again this weekend for another performance.
Scott said that there was no arm twisting necessary for this weekend's reunion to happen, especially considering the fun they had with the Rangers' anniversary show and the fan response.
"This just dovetails nicely," he said. "It's a little bit of vintage nostalgia, and it's for a good cause."
Don't be mistaken -- the cause is really what the evening is all about.
"I talked with Janie Harris at the Hideaway [who is, by the way, one of the businesses donating for this event]," Scott said, "and she just nailed it when she said that you hear so many stories and see so much devastation with all of the coverage that was on the news.
"For me and Amy, it's a matter of so much devastation on top of such crushing poverty. That country and those people are going to be recovering from this for years."
Perhaps the real inspiration for this show comes from an account that was seen on CNN. One woman found her child alive under the rubble and continued communication by tapping on the concrete for days while waiting for someone to help rescue her. The last update said the child had stopped tapping back and had died as rescuers couldn't reach her in time.
The story haunted Amy, who would wake up from her sleep and could hear the tapping, just one of the things that spurred her to action.
"I feel empathy for that," Scott said. "Hearing that mother refuse to leave -- I know exactly how that feels, because I've got kids and that's just one tiny sliver of what's going on."
With that in mind, Scott said that they stepped up with, "the simple idea of 'What can I do?' and not just sit back and watch the pictures. I'm not a medical responder, but I'm a musician and I can get together with some friends, sing some songs and help out that way."
"It's not really about how much we raise," Scott said, "but what we raise, we'll send to help."
Admission to the concert will be on a donation basis, with a suggested contribution of $10 at the door. There will also be a silent auction during the evening with donations from a number of local businesses and everything will be handled on a cash basis to keep things easy.
All proceeds will then be donated via Yéle Haiti, which was founded by Wyclef Jean and can be found online at yele.org. This foundation was picked because, as Evans pointed out, often with larger organizations a good portion of the donations end up going to overhead costs.
"Here's one that's pretty simple and localized," he said. "More of your dollar goes to what you want it to go to, which is food and water and tents."
If you're looking for a fun evening out with the family, "Okies for Healing Haiti" is an all-ages show.
Not only will it be a great night of music, it also serves a worthy cause. With a cast of character that includes Red Dirt Rangers, Medicine Show, John Fullbright, Tom Skinner and more, you can't go wrong. There will even be a special, secret guest interlude between bands that Evans wouldn't identify, but only describe as "percussive."
Don't expect anything less than a special evening. As with any show featuring this many Red Dirt artists, the roster isn't set in stone -- you never know who might just happen to show up and add to the magic. This time, the magic serves to help others as well.
On The D/L
If you're into hip-hop and looking for a peek of what's coming up locally this summer, I recently got sneak and scoop from local rapper RSun. He'll be releasing a lo-fi EP, I Made This For You, available for free download starting Friday, March 12, at rsun.bandcamp.com.
It's merely a teaser for a fully polished studio disc, Emotion Sickness, which will drop in June. New tunes? For free? What are you waiting for?
Spring is finally near, the temperatures are starting to rise and the local music scene continues to heat up as well. There's so much going on this week I can't mention it all, but I've got the highlights. If you're looking for the coolest tunes in town, try some of these shows.
Thursday night, March 11, kicks things off in style. Flytrap Events Center kicks the week off with Jason Castro and Phil Marshall and opening acts William Joseph Band and The Televised kicking things off. Meanwhile, over in the Brady district, Frontier Ruckus plays Bob's with Fiawna Forte, while The Forecast and The Narrative appear at The Marquee.
On Friday evening, Flytrap has the big show again, this time pairing up Paco Estrada and One Love with Nothing More, Rescue Signals, Mother's Anthem, First Lady Assassins and Brandon Davis, all for $10 at the door. Across the tracks, Soundpony offers up Grey Market, Psychotic Reaction, The Dull Drums and Bamboo Shoots, all without a cover. Meanwhile, Cody Clinton and the Bishops play The Colony and perhaps the most raucous gig of the evening will be Ben Miller Band at Mercury Lounge.
If you're looking to get out and dance on Friday, Tulsa's latest dance club, Electric Circus officially opens its doors in the old Exit 6C location.
On Saturday, March 13, pop/rock fans can't go wrong with RadioRadio, Admiral Twin and The Red Alert at IDL Ballroom (formerly Blank Slate). Singer/songwriter fans, on the other hand, should head towards Brookside, however, as Grammy nominee Ruthie Foster and the Family Band appear at All Souls Acoustic Coffeehouse. This one's a special show, however, with tickets running $25 for a special night of music.
Once you're in the Brookside area, don't miss Austin native Ryan Young, performing at Hibiscus on Saturday night. Young presents an eclectic mix of pop, soul and blues songwriting with a great ear for a hook. He was a highlight of DFest back in 2006 and finally returns to support his new disc, White Citrus. You can also catch him earlier in the evening playing at Joe Momma's Pizza, 5-7pm. Don't pass him by.
Other Saturday shows include Bubba Sparxxx at Flytrap, God Module at Marquee and The Last Vegas, bringing some party metal to Mercury Lounge. Yeah, you heard me right party metal and Mercury Lounge. Who'da thunk it?
Sunday's big show is the aforementioned Okies for Healing Haiti benefit at Cain's Ballroom. If you're looking to chill out elsewhere, Pilgrim has a standing gig at The Colony.
On Monday night, March 15, Flogging Molly returns to Cain's Ballroom with The Architects and Synthetic Elements as a precursor to St Patrick's Day.
Wednesday evening's non-Paddy related shows include Miniver Cheevy at The Colony and a full night of Ska and punk at The Marquee with The Last Slice, Bottlerocket, The Dirty Mugz and Kick Tree.
Meanwhile, if you're looking for the best of the St. Patrick's Day festivities, check out our separate listing on page 43 for those parties and events.
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