While headliners like Whitesnake, Hinder, Staind and Mötley Crüe have many rock fans chomping at the bit for Rocklahoma this weekend, that's far from all the weekend festival has to offer.
Of course the headliners are bound to draw the most attention, but with four days and four stages, you can be sure to find something for everyone: from headliners to emerging artists to the hottest upstart local and regional bands.
In fact, local and regional bands have an entire stage devoted to them that has been organized and is being run by Tulsa-based Axis Entertainment. When discussing how Axis got involved in this year's festival, founder Pamela "Sunshine" Washbourne explained that the company booked all of the support acts for last year's Bikelahoma festival and assisted with the Rocklahoma pre-party in 2010. When Washbourne approached Rocklahoma to see if Axis could be of any assistance with this year's event, she was offered an entire stage to handle booking and promotions for.
Listed on the Rocklahoma website as the Axis Campground Stage, Washbourne said the stage will be located next to the store, just outside the gates, housed by a 6,000 square-foot tent. The stage will be active every day of the festival and feature bands performing just before and after acts start and wrap up on the Main and Hard Rock stages.
More than just a sidestage, however, the Axis Stage will also be hosting the Rocklahoma pre-party on Thursday evening starting at 7pm with Stun, followed by Blackwood, Two Fold, Floodlyne, Aformatic, Tyranico and Fist of Rage. New sets will begin hourly with music wrapping up at 2am on Thursday night/Friday morning. All of the bands on Thursday are from Tulsa except for Stun (Catoosa) and Two Fold (Blanchard).
"The party is booked with all up and coming local bands. This provides a good opportunity for them to play to a new audience and hopefully win over some new fans," Washbourne said.
Axis secured four national touring acts from the region with Oklahoma City's Siva Addiction, Wichita, Kans. Act Signum AD, Fayetteville, Ark. band A Good Fight and Lynam, from Birmingham, Ala., in order to build a lineup to complement the rest of the Rocklahoma roster and help gain even more exposure for the Oklahoma acts that are showcasing over the weekend.
"I'm really excited about this lineup because its giving local artists an opportunity to be seen on the same bill with the likes of Whitesnake, Hinder, Poison and Staind," Washbourne said.
"Plus, almost every band has something else going on right now," she continued. "Siva Addiction just shot a video for 'One Night Rodeo' and finished recording an album with Cody Hanson (of Hinder) producing. A Good Fight was listed as the No. 2 in Music Connection Magazine's 'Top 25 New Music of 2010,' Rocker Lips has a new video and Signum AD has a national tour with Sammus Theory, so there's a lot to be excited about."
When looking at the local bands, Chuk Cooley & the Demon Hammers just shot a new video and have a revamped lineup and sound, Brandon Clark Band is currently recording a new CD at Valcour Sound with Hank Charles and David Castro Band is headed out on a Midwest tour that will take the group out to Chicago and back in June.
Yes, you heard that right: Brandon Clark Band and David Castro Band will both be playing Rocklahoma this year as well. Sunday's lineup opens with Cody Clinton & the Bishops at noon followed by Brandon Clark band and David Castro Band at 1pm and 2pm, respectively. They may sound a little displaced next to so many hard rock and modern rock bands, but as Washbourne explained, she figured they'd be perfect to open the day on Sunday: Each band can rock, but they can also be more laid back and open the afternoon with a more relaxed vibe before gearing up for the final night with Poison and Mötley Crüe.
The only band playing twice this year is Chuk Cooley and the Demon Hammers, but you can expect two completely different performances from the group. Friday night's set, following Whitesnake's headline appearance, will be a hard rocking set showcasing the Demon Hammers' new lineup and Cooley's more amped up electric set. Sunday night's set, following Mötley Crüe, however will officially be the last performance of Rocklahoma and will see Cooley and his band focusing on his more acoustic based material as the crowd winds down from a long and raucous weekend.
Although Axis Entertainment did all of the booking, this showcasing stage truly is a collaborative effort. Washbourne credited a number of locally based sponsors such as Mercury Lounge, Max's Garage, The Bureau, Blue Label Bartending School, Studio 81 (which hosted the pre-Rocklahoma meet and greet last weekend), Preslar Music School, Oklahoma Music Chart and graphics arts studio Exit 13 for stepping up to showcase local talent.
More important than the local sponsors that have stepped up, however, is the local talent. As Washbourne pointed out, "Everyone we picked is doing well, doing big things and this is a chance for them to showcase for a bigger audience. Each of these bands has been working hard to make things happen, from Sweatin' Bullets -- that's a band that loves Tulsa and will play most benefit concerts -- to Bait, who just finished a new record and is ready to get back out and start pushing hard again."
"I'm very proud of the professionalism and talent we've been able to attract with this stage," she concluded. "I'm even more proud because AEG (Rocklahoma's national promoter) has taken notice. This is good for Tulsa and is really showcasing what we can do."
The Axis stage kicks off Rocklahoma with the official pre-party on Thursday night, May 26 and wraps up after Mötley Crüe closes out the festival on Sunday. The full roster of artists and schedule can be found online at rocklahoma.com.
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