At times, local songwriter and guitar player Jesse Aycock seems to dedicate most of his time and energy to the music of everyone around him, leaving his own music in the wake.
If one catches Aycock on stage, he might very well be performing with Love Ghost or Boondogs, both of Little Rock, Ark. He could possibly be co-hosting the Higher Education series (currently on hiatus) with Dustin Pittsley or their weekly Sunday songwriter night at Elwood's (1924 S. Riverside Dr.). He is also known to accompany the Paul Benjaman Band and their brand of funky bluesy rock to the stage.
"I've been really energized to play with all these different bands," Aycock said.
But that energy is really a distraction. It keeps him from focusing on his own songs; Aycock is a developed, melodic and sensitive songwriter in his own right.
For example the song, "Sometimes" on his upcoming release Inside Out of Blue is a moody, melodic and entirely memorable song encased in personal lyrics about nostalgia and longing for lost love. There is a familiar and timeless quality to his songwriting that makes it "classic" in a sense but also fresh -- a difficult feat.
Luckily for fans, he is coming back around to his music by celebrating the release of the six-song EP Inside Out of Blue on Saturday, July 17 and Sunday, July 18 at The Church Studio (304 S. Trenton).
"I feel like my attention is being pulled back to my music," Aycock said happily.
Saturday is scheduled to begin at 8 pm and will feature local pop rock act Philip Zoellner opening the event. Sunday will begin at 6 pm and features the aforementioned Boondogs from Arkansas. Admission to both nights is on a donation basis.
Aycock's backing band for both nights will feature a parade of the usual suspects including Eric Arntt on bass, Nathan Price on drums and Dustin Pittsley on guitar. Guest appearances will be made by Paul Benjaman on guitar, Lindsey Neal on violin and Jared Tyler on lapsteel guitar.
On top of playing Inside Out of Blue in its entirety, Aycock will also be performing a slew of songs he has yet to record.
The material is more "edgy rock" and has "more attitude" than the EP, Aycock said referencing the riffage of Led Zeppelin and the strut of The Black Crows as influences.
Whereas the material of Inside Out of Blue features personal and relationship-oriented songwriting, the newer compositions are lyrically darker, more open to interpretation and occasionally political. Although many of the "new" songs are several years old, Aycock decided to showcase the material because it would translate well to a live setting.
"These are tunes that I've had written for a long time," Aycock said. "And it seemed like a good time to do something different."
Both evenings of the CD release will also be filmed and recorded, possibly to culminate as releases in the future. Aycock expressed excitement about the possibility of releasing a record and starting the recording process of another album on the same night. The pair of evenings might also result in a live concert DVD release.
"A lot of it depends on how it comes out," he said.
For Aycock, hosting the double-header CD release at The Church Studio is the icing on the cake. Throughout the past three decades, the building has been the legendary home to Leon Russell, Shelter Records, Steve Ripley and The Tractors (see Mike Eaterling's "Feels Like Religion" in the Nov. 11, 2009 issue of UTW or visit urbantulsa.com).
"I've had the idea doing it (at The Church Studio) a long time ago," Aycock said. The two CD release shows have been scheduled since the spring, he said.
The actual performances will be held in the studio's main recording space, a huge room with hardwood floors, ambience and high ceilings where bands set up to record.
The large room originally held the altar and the congregation of the church several decades ago. It has since been turned into a dynamic acoustic space for live performance and recording. Now, it welcomes a congregation of a different kind.
"Beautiful music has been made there," Aycock said referring to that room of the studio in particular. The space has documented the progression of the "Tulsa Sound" as well as bands such as The Gap Band, J.J. Cale and an early incarnation of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers then performing under the name Mudcrutch.
Aycock specifically chose The Church Studio for the room's vibe and sound he said are acoustics and atmosphere unparalleled in Tulsa.
The CD release shows are reflective of Aycock taking his personal compositions more seriously this summer. In addition to his various musical commitments, he has been performing acoustic shows weekly on Thursday nights often backed by Pittsley at The Luchador Bar in the Eloté Café (514 S. Boston). Hopefully, Aycock's renewed dedication to his own craft will remain throughout the year.
As for Aycock's future recording ambitions, he suggested taking his songs out of town. Both his debut full-length album Life's Ladder and Inside Out of Blue were recorded in Oklahoma (Tulsa and Norman respectively) with a supporting cast of friends, old band mates and future band mates.
Documenting his music outside of his comfort zone appeals to Aycock. It would force him to use different people, make different choices and the process could reflect in the presentation of the songs.
For now, listeners should be content to have back-to-back nights of talented musicians playing great music in a beautiful space.
The Jesse Aycock band will be celebrating the release of Inside Out of Blue Saturday, July 17 and Sunday, July 18 at The Church Studio.
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