Although it may seem like our local music scene has stagnated with young bands, that's really not the case. Sure, they aren't nearly as obvious or easy to find now that we don't have all ages venues like Pinkeye or Crush Lounge any longer and the loss of The Monolith eliminated an important indie/DIY venue as well. Even so, the talent is still out there, you just have to search a little harder to find it.
This weekend, however, a pocket of that young talent comes together and brings a package to you with a showcase at The Marquee on Friday, Nov. 26. Five young acts with members ranging from high-school to college age take part this weekend in a show that's a little different than what you may have come to expect from young bands. Instead of an onslaught of scream, metalcore or even pop-punk, these young acts are all tapping their inner singer/songwriter and pop sensibilities, offering up some great songs and big hooks. Apparently it's OK to embrace a great hook again instead of screaming and playing at breakneck speed. (Granted, I'm still down with that, too -- but after a few years of scream, then indie dominating the young talent pool, this is a breath of fresh air.)
Doors open at 6:30pm and the music starts at 7:30pm when Union High School student Zeke Duhon opens the evening. Duhon has already been playing for a couple of years and has quickly developed his songwriting chops, releasing Eric's Marine over the past year, which is highlighted by tracks like "The Writer and the Poet." The big surprise is that Duhon is writing songs this strong at only 16 years old. Keep an eye on this kid, because this is only the beginning.
The veteran of this group, Arlis Moon, follows with a set of songs that traverses pop and easy listening, tapping everything from Ben Folds to Jason Mraz to Matt Kearney. Moon has been active in Tulsa for a few years already and has been touring regionally, building a buzz outside of T-Town that will hopefully reflect back on his peers. Moon would be given highlight if it weren't for the rest of the talent on the bill, none of which will go overlooked.
Chase Stites, former lead singer of Restless Ribbon and this year's "Best Male Vocalist" at the ABoT Music Awards slips into the middle of the evening's lineup. Stites has been developing his solo band, but already has two killer singles in hand, the pop oriented "Love Again" and more guitar oriented "Be My Vice," both of which are radio ready. Just a few prime time spins and Stites could take off at any minute, making this a prime opportunity to catch him before his shooting star launches. Just last week, Stites was shooting a video for "Be My Vice," preparing for a media launch to push his new solo project.
Female songstress Sunday Lane is the unknown quantity for myself, but some online perusing proved that she's got a good voice and some great songwriting skills. After leaving for Pepperdine, she's back for the holiday weekend and will be a bonus addition for this lineup.
Finally, rising band Apollo headlines the night and rounds out the bill with a full set of songs. Amazingly, this group formed not even a year ago as a group of friends got together for a high-school senior talent show. After coming together on a whim and having friends ask the m to play more, they actually formed Apollo last January and have already kicked out two EP's worth of material -- all of which is amazingly solid for a first and second effort. While Arlis Moon produced the first disc and helped give some direction, the band continued to write and self produced the second disc itself, releasing it in August before drummer Chaz Gnaedig and lead singer/keyboardist Patrick Turner departed for college at Belmont and the University of Arkansas, respectively.
KMOD has even run with the songs "Speechless" from the first disc and "Lose It" from the second, frequently playing the band on Friday evening's local music show, DOMK! Even with two EP's under the band's belt, the members continue to write, both individually and when they are back together over breaks, so we might even get to hear and additional new song or two this weekend.
When asking Gnaedig about the show, he explained that nearly everyone on the bill knows each other and are friends or have worked together, playing shows in the past. With everyone back for Thanksgiving, now seemed like the perfect time to get everyone together on the same bill. Surely, it's a chance for friends to gather and an opportunity to scope out some of the most promising young songwriter's coming out of Tulsa's newly reinvigorated pop-scene right now.
Tickets are only $7 in advance via ticketstorm.com or $10 at the door for an all-ages showcase that's being billed as the "Black Friday Indie Rock Extravaganza!" That may be overstating it a bit, but it's still a great escape from the chaos for pop and rock fans, so check it out.
Don't expect things to slow down any time soon for Stars Go Dim -- the band who followed up a 2009 Best New Artist Award with Album of the Year honors at this year's ABoT Music Awards. After winning stack of songwriting awards and opening for everyone from Switchfoot and Daughtry to Sarah Bareilles and John Mayer, the band is close to locking up a set of dates opening for Goo Goo Dolls and has already been back to the studio.
I got to preview a clip of the band's new single, "Like I Mean It" last week, and the band continues on a trajectory for stardom. This one is probably a little over-produced for my personal taste, but it's dead set for radio airplay. If you follow the band on Twitter, the new album has just been finished up and should be mixed and mastered in the near future. The real dilemma now is which is better: remaining and independent artist and retaining creative control or signing with a major label to get the backing to gain the radio airplay that is so well deserved? That's a tough call.
A quick conversation with Mike Wittig revealed that plans are in place for the single to be released this week, hopefully with an on-air debut here in Tulsa. No telling who will likely secure the debut, but KHITS recently added Stars Go Dim to the Jingle Ball bill with Hanson and Natasha Bedingfield. Hey Jet: How 'bout giving Chase Stites' "Love Again" a couple spins as well and see what happens?
Just because it's a holiday weekend doesn't mean the love shows have slowed down. If anything, they've picked up to provide a good excuse to escape the family for a bit and wind down.
On Thanksgiving night, Nov. 25, Phil Zoellner will be playing The Colony for everyone who is ready to relax after a full day of football, turkey and in-laws. It isn't really Thanksgiving in Tulsa, however if there isn't a Christmas CD being released by GHOSTS and our favorite indie-rock apparitions have promised to not let us down this year. That's right: GHOSTS' 4th Annual Christmas CD release party is ready to roll once again on Thanksgiving night. This year's Festivus disc is entitled This Christmas Game and promises to fulfill our annual need for Thanksgivng merriment. The disc was still being mastered and sent to print when I got word, so I've yet to hear a preview, but I've been assured we will all be please din our quest for holiday music that doesn't rehash the same old stuff.
Friday night, Nov. 26, is when the weekend really picks up, and the weekend's biggest show is Jason Boland's 5th Annual "Leftover Turkey" show at Cain's Ballroom with Turnpike Troubadours opening the show. Of course, the aforementioned showcase with Apollo, Sunday Lane and Chase Stites is right down the street at The Marquee and in between, Brandon Clark Band will be playing the Hunt Club. If you're ready to relax and it's been far too long since you caught Jesse Aycock, however, your best bet will be to stop in at The Colony for the evening.
Saturday night's highlight is the 6th Annual Cancer Sucks! benefit concert at Cain's Ballroom. This year's bill includes co-headliners Aranda and Taddy Porter, as well as sets by Another Alibi, Eric & the Adams, Chuk Cooley and the Demon Hammers, Sweatin' Bullets and the recently revamped Crooked X. Tickets are only $10 in advance or $15 at the door with all proceeds going toward cancer research.
If you're looking for something different, check out The Whistle Pigs at Mercury Lounge on Saturday night or settle in with some old friends and raise a pint with Larkin at Arnie's. If you haven't heard yet, Fassler Hall is now hosting live music on the weekends as well and although the stage isn't in place yet, the sound is great and the room begs for you to have a good time and make new friends. That won't be hard this weekend as Hosty Duo helps set the tone on Saturday evening in the bar that will quickly be known as the best bet in town on weekends.
Also of note: If you're in the mood to hear a bona-fide Tulsa treasure and legend, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Wanda Watson plays both Friday and Saturday night in the Nine18 Bar at Million Dollar Elm Casino this weekend.
Finally, the best way to cap off your holiday weekend is by getting your Flaming Lips fix at Circle Cinema on Sunday, Nov. 28. Beginning at 2pm, the day will include a reading by Pitchfork Managing Editor, Mark Richardson, and discussion on his book about the band's landmark, four-disc sonic experiment Zaireeka, followed by a listening party allowing you to hear it as originally intended (all four discs at the same time!) and a screening of the film The Fearless Freaks! The reading, Q&A session and listening party are all free to the public, but tickets to the screening will be available at the Circle Cinema box office for $8.50. What a way to finish up the weekend!
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