When Tulsa takes the national stage this weekend with the national basketball playoffs, it's not just a weekend of sports. With basketball fans converging on our city for the playoffs, it's a chance for the city to prove its value as a host destination. It's also a chance to once again flaunt our many assets, including the talent pool in Tulsa.
Local business owners know just how important this weekend is and how much it can impact our local economy. As a result, and in a sense of community, a group of local businesses and larger corporations are coming together to make this weekend something special for our guests and make Tulsa stand out as a great host city.
The McNellie's Group, which includes The Colony, Fassler Hall and Brady Tavern, has teamed up with In The Raw, Ivey, Wolfgang Puck Bistro, Full Moon Café and several other sponsors and collaborators to present the Downtown Basketball Bash.
What it all boils down to is a group of locally minded businesses and organizations stepping up to make this weekend more than a couple of games in the BOK Center. Together, the group is forming a centralized hub for food, drink and entertainment and basketball fans come and go from their team's games over the weekend.
A 14,000 square foot tent will be erected in the parking lot just east of the BOK Center. Open to all ages, the site will be family friendly and open to the public with featured food from Rib Crib, basketball goals for shooting hoops and multiple 60-inch high-def televisions which will be airing all of the playoff games over the course of the weekend.
This is a music column, though, and basketball and barbeque isn't usually the focus. Key to the weekend in music lover's eyes will be the main stage in the tent, which will present a forum and audience for a number of local acts to reach a new audience. Music will start at 6pm on Friday and 7pm on Saturday, running through the evening to provide a celebratory and party atmosphere for both the general public and those attending the ball games.
Friday evening's lineup provides a decidedly Oklahoma flavor, featuring primarily Americana and red-dirt. Travis Kidd opens the evening at 6pm with country and southern rock leanings before the "Dueling Pianos" of Tom Basler and Jon Glazer take the stage from 7-8:30pm. The party gets fired up late, however, with Brandon Clark Band performing at 9pm before Red Dirt Rangers close out the night from 10:30pm to 1:30am.
Saturday evening takes on a decidedly pop and rock tone as Dante & the Hawks open the stage at 7pm, followed by Big Bang Theory at 9pm and Hero Factor at 10:30pm. DJ Oreo will close out the night, giving basketball fans an easy place to congregate and party as they leave the ballgames.
Probably of most interest to Tulsa music fans is the reunion of Hero Factor. Considered by many to be Tulsa's most popular act during its prime, the band seemed on the verge of something big in 2006-2007 after signing a development deal with Nobility Label and releasing the Battling Chimaera EP. A full-length album was in process and rumors were flying of major label interest in buying out the band's contract with Nobility, placing the band on a much larger stage.
Eventually, however, the band splintered and went its separate directions with Ben Kilgore returning to leading worship, initially at Guts Church, and pursuing a solo career while the rest of the band members followed their own paths. Matt Fisher, Eric Arndt and Nathan Price continued to work together in Vandevander and Refund Division, as well as supporting a number of other local acts and Chad Copelin became a key producer for many Northeast and Central Oklahoma bands at Blackwatch Studios in Norman.
So why a reunion now? A combination of timing and opportunity make this an appropriate arena for on last show.
"It just feels right," said front man Ben Kilgore.
When Hero Factor split up, it never did a farewell show or got the chance to properly thank or say goodbye to its fans.
While future reunion shows aren't completely out of the question, that's not in the works. The members remain busy with their other endeavors, but a free show in downtown Tulsa for a large crowd provides a great opportunity for the band to come together one last time, wrap things up on a positive notes and give both the band and its fans a sense of closure. With that being the case, you can rest assured this Saturday evening's show should be packed.
Attendance should already be strong with a built in audience from the basketball tournament and many locals will assemble at the site, just to partake in the entertainment and atmosphere. Adding Hero Factor to the bill essentially serves three purposes: it highlights one of Tulsa's local best pop/rock acts of the past decade, draws even more people downtown, and provides a sense of closure to the band and its fans.
For Tulsa as a whole, this weekend is more than that: It's a chance to shine and prove the city is a worthy and valuable host for future events. The fact that our local businesses are all coming together should prove both the importance of the weekend and how much can be accomplished when businesses come together. It's a win-win for Tulsa.
The weekend could also prove to be one more step in reestablishing Tulsa as a hotbed for talented musicians and bands. Sure, this is only a highlight reel, but when visitors return, they'll know quality entertainment is right under their nose, if they'll just hit a few local clubs. So why shouldn't Tulsa provide the music for the "Big Dance"?
Yes, the basketball tournament will be the focal point of downtown Tulsa this weekend and the Basketball Bash will be part of that, but there are plenty more cool shows to check out, even if many of our local bands are in Austin for SXSW.
•Thursday, March 17 provides a great kickoff for the weekend, tapping a Texas/red-dirt vein with No Justice at Woody's with Kristin Nicole and Chloe Johns opening. Larkin will be at Kilkenny's with Cairde na Gael and The Big O Show as well, for some St. Paddy's spirit.
•Friday, March 18's highlights include Dustin Pittsley, Jesse Aycock, Dylan Layton and Paul Benjamin coming together for a Tulsa All-Star Jam at Arnie's while Dante & the Hawks plays Hunt Club and Shaky Deville keeps things fresh at Mercury Lounge.
•Saturday, March 19 sees Sownds holding its CD release party at The Marquee with Consumed by Fire and Travis McConnell opening while Turnpike Troubadours return to Mercury Lounge with Brandon Clark Band. Hosannas play the Soundpony while returning from Austin and The Flash Bangs play Downtown Lounge with The Physiques. Christina Rock fans should also take note of I Am Empire at Energe Events center in Owasso with Apagee and Carnegie opening.
•Sunday, March 20 sees The Ready Set headline Cain's Ballroom with a stock of openers and Dance Gavin Dance at The Marquee with I Wrestled A Bear Once and In Fear and Faith.
•The week wraps up Birds of Avalon and Mumlers at Eclipse on Monday night and House of Pain at Cain's Ballroom on Tuesday. Those are just the highlights, so if you don't see something that suits your style, check out the concert calendar for more or stop in at your favorite local club.
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