After a long summer that's been packed with great shows, I often find myself easing into the fall season wondering if anything better could possibly come along. This year, I have no worries, as we've still got a fistful of local releases due in the latter portion of the year, and October rapidly approaches with a calendar that's already making my head spin.
One reason to be excited about the arrival of autumn, however, is the kickoff of the All Souls Acoustic Coffeehouse concert season. Yes, we've got cool shows that roll through town all year long, but somehow the shows at All Souls always seem to stand out. It must be something about the combination of top-notch performers, in an intimate setting, stripped back to acoustic guitars and settled into storytelling mode. Even if that's not the plan from the outset, nearly every show I've attended at All Souls ends up revealing something extra about the performers, their songwriting process and the back history behind at least a portion of the songs.
The list of artists that come through may be cruising under the radar of most of the general public, but All Souls does a nice job of mixing up the lineup each year and balancing things out between audiophile heroes and names that can turn all heads. Not many people in Oklahoma haven't heard of Red Dirt icon Jimmy LaFave, even if they can't name a song he's written, and his season-opening show last fall was one that will surely be etched in the memory of those who attended for years to come.
If you haven't attended a show at All Souls yet, I can't recommend it highly enough. I'll admit that it may seem a little odd at first and I usually start out a bit self-conscious sitting in the sanctuary of a church drinking a beer and listening to a concert. Between the stellar acoustics of the room (extra props go to the sound guys who keep everything dialed in near perfectly) and the intimate atmosphere (even when the room is packed, it feels like the performer is singing directly to you), however, everything melts away as you get sucked into the show.
This year's season kicks off on Friday night, Sept. 17, and although the headliners' names (Paul Berrere and Fred Tackett) may not be as instantly recognizable as Jimmy LaFave, I'd be willing that you've probably heard of their band, Little Feat. Paul Barrere joined Little Feat in 1973, when the band beefed up its lineup following the departure of bassist Roy Estrada, and was part of the lineup that recorded Dixie Chicken and Feats Don't Fail Me Now, becoming one of the band's primary songwriters as the band picked up a more jazzy and improvisational sound until founding member Lowell George's departure for a solo career and subsequent death in 1979. When the band reformed in 1988, Fred Tackett, who had previously worked with the band as a side man, was officially added to the Little Feat lineup on guitar, mandolin and trumpet.
Barrere and Tackett have worked and played together ever since, and as a result, when they arrive in Tulsa this Friday, you can expect to hear a great cross section of Little Feat material over the course of the evening. Granted, this will be an all-new view into the Little Feat catalogue as they strip it back to an acoustic format and lay the songs open to new readings and interpretations.
One of the little things that always makes an All Souls show special is the fact that the bill often combines a national-caliber artist with a local or regional performer who is deserving of the spotlight in their own right and this weekend's series launch is no exception. Ali Harter, who hails from Oklahoma City, has been turning heads and catching ears in Green Country for roughly five years now, but with the 2007 release of her debut, Worry the Bone, she really started to gain notoriety.
Not only did she land a pair of her songs from the disc on "Grey's Anatomy," but a key management arrangement has allowed her to tour Europe roughly a dozen times in the past three years. With the release of her sophomore CD, No Bees, No Honey, this past March, she seems poised to make an even bigger impact. Three years of constant touring have developed her voice and songwriting and her songs are more fleshed out, stepping out of a folk-based mode and into more jazz oriented stylings. When combined with Harter's smoky alto, comparisons to Norah Jones are quickly justified.
With a summer tour of France wrapped up at the end of July, Harter's fall schedule has her playing throughout Oklahoma, but this weekend's opening spot at All Souls is currently her only scheduled appearance in Tulsa.
We've got a small crop of impressive female songwriters emerging, and Harter seems the best poised to be the next one to break out in a manner similar to Samantha Crain, who quickly jumped from a Tuesday night songwriter's spot at The Colony to touring nationally with support from Ramseur Records, and grabbing the attention of Rolling Stone, Spin and Paste magazines.
Perhaps most promising is that this is only the beginning of a fall season at All Souls that is also scheduled to include shows by Todd Snider, Kevin Welch and Patti Larking before year's end.
Even so, you won't want to miss this weekend's kickoff with Paul Barrera and Fred Tackett, especially if you're a Little Feat fan and want to hear stripped back versions of some of your favorites such as "Dixie Chicken," "Down of the Farm" and "Hate to Lose."
Tickets are only $15, but seating is limited, so get yours in advance at Starship or Café Cubana or online at Ticketstorm.com. Doors open at 7pm and the show starts at 7:30pm, so make sure and arrive early to get a great seat for an evening you won't quickly forget.
Rib Ticklin' Rock
This week's feature on the fall festivals (see Page 37) has more details on the Rock 'n' Rib Festival at BOK arena this weekend, but you can't overlook the festival if you're looking for a good sampling of local music as well as BBQ.
Thursday kicks thing off with a slow burn, opening the stage with Eric and the Blasters at 11:30am for the lunch crowd before resuming for the evening with Red Water at 5pm, TJ McFarland at 7pm and The Alabama Blues Brothers at 9pm.
Friday takes a more country and southern-rock tone as Outlaw Son take son the lunch crowd then the evening lights up with Travis Kidd, Turnpike Troubadours and Red Dirt Rangers and 5pm, 7pm and 9pm, respectively.
Music takes center stage all day on Saturday and a few of our hottest rising bands keep things rocking during the daytime hours as Bruder, Eric & the Adams and Fiawna Forte play at 11:30am, 1:30pm and 4pm, before Pandemic takes over the dinner crowd at 6:30pm and Jimmy Buffett tribute band Cruize Control finishes out the evening at 9pm.
Finally, The Spectrum Band plays on Sunday, still paying tribute to their fallen leader (and this year's ABoT Wayman Tisdale Lifetime achievement award winner) Earl Clark.
As we wind the week up, I know you can't wait to get out. I also know that sometimes it can be a little overwhelming to sort through the options and decide where to go, so just like every other week, we've got the highlights for you.
Thursday nights always seem to serve well for an early kickoff to the weekend, and this week is no exception. Classic rockers will want to wander out to the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, which brings in Blue Oyster Cult for a show at The Joint, to prove the big guns are sitting just off of I-44. And this is just a warm up for what they've got coming over the next couple of months.
If you're looking for something a little more low-key, Cairde na Gael is always a safe bet at Arnie's and The Move get's things rocking on Thursday at The Colony.
On Friday night, if you aren't headed out to All Souls -- or even if you are -- you can't go wrong at The Colony as What's That? (featuring Travis Fite) lights up the evening. Other sure things include Brandon Clark Band at Hunt Club and Dustin Pittsley at Arnie's.
The big show on Saturday, Sept. 18 is easily The Pixies at Brady Theater. Now's the time to catch Frank Black and his crew (including Kim Deal) as they celebrate the 20th anniversary of the release of Doolittle. You can even walk out with a copy of the evening's show in your hand as the band continues to record each show and burn to disc as you walk out the door.
Local shows around town on Saturday include a can't miss, raucous evening with Larkin at Arnie's, The Fiddlebacks at Mercury Lounge and an evening of song swapping with Joe Mack, Bryon white and Gabe Marshall at The Colony
The Marquee tops highlights on Sunday and Monday with an evening of metal, featuring We Came as Romans, In Fear and Faith and Abandon All Ships on Sunday, then the power-pop of Rookie of the Year with IT Boys and Westland on Monday night, Sept. 20.
Bob's hosts Sleepy Sun with The Dull Drums opening on Tuesday night before The Colony hosts its biggest gig of the month as Radio Moscow rocks the coziest bar in town on Wednesday night, Sept. 22.
Five Reasons to Rush
Even with all of that, I haven't mentioned the biggest show of the week, if not the month. Yes, everyone is all abuzz about Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers coming to BOK next week, but in my book, you can't beat the show that no one seems to have clued into yet.
Hello, people!?! Rush is coming to BOK on Tuesday night, Sept. 21 and is it me or does no one seem to care?
I know I do. Sorry folks, but yes: I'm "that" guy. With that in mind, I'm leaving you with the Top 5 reasons you should go see Rush at BOK, aside from the fact that the band hasn't played Tulsa since I don't even remember when. Here we go...
No. 5: Rush has always been know for a killer stage show, perhaps only surpassed by fellow Canadian power trio Triumph in the heyday of 80's arena rock for sheer spectacle
No. 4: Alex Lifeson: How does a guitarist play so much and so many layers, yet make it all look so easy?
No. 3: Geddy Lee: Yes, his voice may grate on you a little, but without his weird falsetto and the Rush's progressive rock, there would be no place for bands like Coheed and Cambria
No. 2: Neal Peart: Arguably one of the best drummers in rock. Who else can play such intricate poly-rhythms and look downright bored?
No. 1: Moving Pictures: Perhaps no one has noticed, but it's the 30th anniversary of the release of Rush's landmark album and they'll be playing it in its entirety, front to back on every show during this tour.
I've stated my case. Of that isn't enough to get you to sell a child or sibling to get your ticket, I don't know what will.
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