It's not often the The Church Studio, 304 S. Trenton Ave., opens its doors to the general public, but when it does, you can rest assured it will be a special night of music.
The recording studio, its current owners and crew have finally settled in after reopening nearly two years ago and the space has gradually grown busier, and its owners have become more comfortable with opening its doors for special events.
One of those unique evenings is arriving again this Sunday night, July 10, as The Church hosts a pair of shows by Austin, Texas-based songwriters David Ramirez and The Wealthy West. Doors open at 6pm with the first concert beginning at 7pm and the second starting at 10pm.
Since The Church is a commercial recording studio, not a traditional concert venue, seating is limited and the shows are officially being held as a private party open to the public. A $20 donation at the door includes food and beer along with a great night of songwriting.
In the past, The Church only hosted infrequent shows with special friends of the studio. After officially opening the studio with a songwriters-in-the round session with Austin-based songwriter and Tulsa native Autumn, plans for a monthly music series fell through as the studio found its footing, but album release parties with Jesse Aycock and OK Sweetheart, as well as a fundraiser for Beau Jennings' film and album project have all proven to be special experiences in a room with a unique ambience.
The shows this weekend are a step towards The Church becoming a venue as well as a studio. The Wealthy West is the solo project of singer/songwriter Brandon Kinder of The Rocketboys. More stripped back than his band project, The Wealthy West balances Kinder's gift for melodies with both his folkish tendencies and Beatlesque flourishes. Although his EP is fascinating, I couldn't help but be even more fascinated with songwriter David Ramirez' new EP, Strangetown.
To some, Ramirez might pass by as just another troubadour songwriter. If you listen again and pay attention, however, Ramirez delivers his songs with such a personal conviction that the emotions come through in a visceral manner. While the album sounds very professional, it isn't so glossy as to strip away the personality and emotion that Ramirez put into the recordings.
It was interesting then to discuss the new EP with Ramirez and get his take on the recording process. Strangetown is actually his second release and was recorded with Brian Douglas Phillips at Rattletrap Studios. His debut album, American Soil, was recorded in Nashville, Tenn., where it was distinctly different process.
"It was a beautiful experience, but it was totally foreign to me," Ramirez said about the new recording experience. "Everything was very professional, but I was very nervous and out of my element. I felt kind of like I was at the zoo and watching from the outside as I brought my songs to the table and all these other people helped bring them to life."
It's not that Ramirez was unhappy with the results. He acknowledged that it was a great experience and built a degree of confidence knowing that the record sounded great and would be heard by people if only because of the musicians that played on it. Still, Ramirez was ready to move in a different direction.
When he moved to Austin nearly two and a half years ago, Ramirez plugged into the music scene there and found both a home and his comfort zone. The more organic and personalized feel of his current disc can be directly attributed to the recording process, where he settled in with friends and opened the doors to try new things.
"This was completely a friend record and it was totally refreshing," he said. "It reminded me why I do this in the first place."
Whether reflected in the rollicking blues romp "Wandering Man" or the picturesque yearning of title cut, "Strangetown," that personalized touch is felt throughout the new EP. "Argue with Heaven," in particular stands out as a song where Ramirez' emotions bubble so close to the surface that the tension becomes palpable.
It becomes obvious that these songs will come across even more strongly in a live setting and Ramirez continues to build on the foundation of his debut to continue touring and deliver his work wherever possible. The intimate setting and unique ambience of The Church should prove to be the perfect setting for Ramirez to make his Tulsa debut and connect on personal level with a new group of music lovers.
When discussing the current tour with Ramirez, he said that while he and Kinder have performed and played small tours together current run of shows is "something bigger."
"I think we're going out for three weeks this time," he said. "We're good friends and hang out regularly, so it should be fun -- we're looking forward to it."
When asked if that friendship and comfort level will also lead to the two playing together, Ramirez said that while the two might play a song or two together, "for the most part we'll each do our own thing." He did, however, indicate that the pair has discussed possibly writing a song together to open or close the show with, so the evening could bring something new and special to the table.
Either way, when Ramirez arrives at The Church this Sunday evening, July 10, it will be a show you don't want to miss. After all,
If you plan on coming to either the 7pm or 10pm show, don't forget to RSVP by emailing email@example.com to reserve your spot. After all, what more appropriate place could you spend you Sunday night at than The Church?
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