After a fairly long dry spell, I've found myself stumbling over an impressive little crop of new bands throughout the past few weeks. Indie rock, pop, country -- you name it, I've likely heard it.
Perhaps it's timing, perhaps it's a change in perspective, or maybe it's just my mind gearing up for FreeTulsa!, and a weekend where I'll by trying to absorb as much as possible, but my hope for finding cool new artists is being slowly restored.
One such band is a relatively new group out of Claremore, The Del Toros. Indie-rock sensitivities, balanced with a touch of classic rock and knack for throwing in a good pop hook or two are the formula at hand, and it's one that should appeal to a fairly broad spectrum of listeners.
For lead singer, guitarist and primary songwriter Davey Rumsey, the current lineup (which includes guitarist Adam Nichols, bassist Kyle Bennett and drummer Micah Moseby) has provided an amazing outlet and chemistry to flesh out his songs.
Instead of arguing through songs or arrangements, the writing process to date has been relatively clear and unfettered: Rumsey writes the songs on acoustic guitar and brings them to the band. After playing them a couple of times, the band fills out the arrangement and almost naturally creates the sound and vibe Rumsey has in his head without much additional direction or instruction.
Perhaps it's just timing and serendipity, but the line-up came together almost a year and a half ago, after Rumsey and guitarist Adam Nichols joined forces after knowing each other from time spent in separate bands which played in similar circles.
Nichols' history includes time in Motive for Movement and The Fiddlebacks, whereas Rumsey's first band, which he admits "(wasn't) very good at all" was After Ember. When the members of After Ember departed for college and went their separate ways, Rumsey started off on a solo project, playing mostly acoustic gigs and even recording a solo disc.
"Basically, I got sick of playing by myself," he said, and started playing with Nichols, who he had known for years. Drummer Micah Moseby fit in naturally as Rumsey knew him from church and the two had played together bit. Finally, when he met Kyle Bennett at Nichols' house one evening and found out he was a bass player, he knew automatically that he wanted him in the band, and the roster was complete.
With only a dozen shows or less together, the group was ready to start recording and holed up to work on its debut disc, Come Down. By fleshing out a handful of songs from his solo acoustic disc and writing more once the band formed, Rumsey and company found themselves with a full 10-song disc, which hits the pocket perfectly, giving a nice snapshot of the band and where its headed without running to long and getting bogged down.
Rumsey said he considers his main influences from mainstays like Bob Dylan, Radiohead and The Beatles as well as falling back to bands such as led Zeppelin and Rolling Stones, which he cut his teeth on when learning to play guitar. Although each of those definitely has an impact on Rumsey's writing, one of them overwhelm the songs.
"I never think 'I want a song to sound like a certain band,' because if I do, it all just breaks down," Rumsey said. "I just sit and try and write naturally. When I do, I think it comes out as an honest branch of everything I've entrenched myself in."
While that does include the lyricism of Dylan, a little of the imagery of Radiohead and the occasional harmonic twists of the Beatles, there's more that comes through as well. Essentially, The Del Toros serve up straight-forward rock and roll, filtered through indie rock.
On one hand, there are hints of bands such as Copeland and Lovedrug, but the sound is balanced by a classic jangle that also recalls touches of Tom Petty and Wilco and even occasionally the lyricism of Jeff Buckley. Although those might sound like an odd blend, somehow it all comes together naturally when these four guys come together.
The Del Toros debut their new disc, Come Down, with a CD release party at The Marquee on Friday night, July 23. Motive for Movement, Chris McCleod (who also co-produced the Del Toros' disc) provided support along with openers Cody Clinton and Desirae Roses, hit of the release of their new EP.
Cover is only $8 at the door and includes a copy of the new disc, so stop in and check it out if you've been looking for something new as well.
Making Some Change
Back in May, I used this column to cover Change It!, a charity set up by a group of local teens that looks to make a difference by collecting pocket change at local establishments and directing those funds to AIDS relief organizations. The group attempted to hold a benefit concert at Riverwalk Crossing in the spring, but as fate would have it, the event was rained out.
This weekend, they make another go of it with and expanded lineup. Music will start on the amphitheater stage at Jenks Riverwalk at noon with a pair of acoustic acts, followed by a few young new bands and finishing out with some better known headliners. High School acts Orange Light, Zeke Duhon and Apollo will perform at 2pm, 3pm and 4pm, respectively.
The format then rotates with country/bluegrass act T-Town Theory performing at 5pm, followed by a KMOD-sponsored solo-electric performance by John Moreland at 6pm (covering the Americana-rock genre). The Red Alert closes out the event with a 7pm set sponsored by Z104.5, The Edge.
The event is free, but donations for Change It! will be accepted. Actually, they would prefer you just bring your spare change and add it to their receptacle as they are using the event to once again try and break a Guinness Book World Record for the most change collected for charity at an individual location and event.
More information on Change It! and the organization's focus and vision can be found online at changeitwithchange.blogspot.com.
Get Your Rocks Off
Anyone who just wasn't satisfied with this year's Rocklahoma and still needs your '80s hair-metal fix, take heart. The answer to your aqua-net and spandex inspired dreams is on Oklahoma City this weekend.
Yes, the "Rock 'N' America Music Fest" is Friday through Sunday at the Zoo Amphitheater, and it's more '80s rock and hair metal than you can share a proverbial stick at.
Headliners include Twisted Sister and Great White on Friday night, Scorpions and Cinderella on Saturday and Dokken and Ratt on Sunday nights. You want more, you say? How about Lita Ford, LA Guns, Trixter, Steelheart, Lynch Mob, Firehouse, Warrant, Slaughter, Bullet Boys and nearly 20 more bands? Yeah, I thought that might provide your fix. Tickets are still available with a $125 three-day pass or individual day tickets available at the gate.
Get out the ripped jeans, pack up the Camaro and hit I-44. You know you want to.
If you're like me, there's probably a part of you that's ready to stay at home and rest up for next weekend's music onslaught, which will include both Free Tulsa! and the Oklahoma Black Gold Music Run, both in lieu of this year's DFest. Even so, I always get an itch to get out, and there are plenty of local shows to check out his weekend.
We'll skip right to the weekend this time and get down to business. If you're not checking out The Del Toros or getting your '80s fix in OKC on Friday night, you might be a country fan, in which case you'll be camped out at BOK Center with Rascal Flatts, Kellie Pickler and Chris Young.
Afterwards, you'll do yourself well to float a few blocks east and settle in at Woody's where Philip Zoellner Band and 7 Hours to Southland will be playing. Dustin Pittsley covers the blues-rock crowd across the street at Arnie's, and Admiral Twin has the pure-pop angle covered at Hunt Club on Friday, July 23.
Elsewhere around town, Electric Rag Band plays Mercury Lounge, Cody and Desi settle in at The Colony and AudioVibe rocks out at Shenanigans.
On Saturday night, your best bet just might be Travis Linville's Electric Duo at Arnie's. Even so, you're always guaranteed a good night with Brandon Clark Band at Hunt Club or Jesse Aycock following up on the release of his amazing new EP at The Colony. If you're looking for something different, The Deedles play Mercury Lounge, JB and the Moonshine Band stops in from Texas at Woody's and ABoT Music Awards nominee Chuk Cooley and the Demon Hammers play Shenanigans.
Sunday evening sees Pilgrim hold down a weekly spot at Colony, and Eclipse hosts its monthly "Dr Sketchy's Anti-Art School," but the show that threatens to slip by unnoticed is the one that could be the best gig of the month: The New Pornographers at Cain's Ballroom. If you're not familiar, the band seamlessly blends indie-rock and pure pop. These guys should be a headliner at DFest this year, so an intimate show at Cain's is one you shouldn't miss. Check out more details on the show on Page 43.
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