When perusing this year's ABoT Music Awards nominees, a few different artists immediately jump to the forefront. One of those names that pop up repeatedly is a young pop star on the rise, Chase Stites. A total of four nominations on this year's ballot indicate that expectations run high for this young man and Urban Tulsa readers expect to hear plenty more from him in the future.
Our readers' votes also tell us that we weren't off the mark when tabbing Stites in our March 2 issue as one of the rising pop acts set to make a major impact on our local music scene. Grabbing nominations in the Rock/Pop and Artist of the Year categories as well as (NewVo) Newcomer of the Year and Best Male Vocalist (which he won last year) proves that he's already make strong impressions around town, even if his burgeoning solo career is just in its early stages.
Now, some may ask how Stites can be considered a newcomer after winning the Male Vocalist category in 2010. The answer to that is simple: Last year's nomination was tied to Stites' work as front man for pop/punk sensation Restless Ribbon. Even as the awards show rolled around, Restless Ribbon had run its course and dissolved, leaving Stites in a position to move forward on his own, which is exactly what he's been laying the ground work for ever since. A trip to Dallas last summer to work with Geoff Rockwell (producer for Forever the Sickest Kids and Disco Curtis, among others) yielded two high quality demos that Stites eventually released digitally to gauge interest.
Fall sessions with producer Kevin Gates (Never Shout Never, The Ready Set) turned out another four tunes as Stites continued to move in a more mature, pure pop direction and find his own sound.
"Right now I'm keeping in the (pop) direction," Stites said. "That's always been me and what I'm about and every new song I write reassures me that I'm doing the right thing."
Part of Stites' transition includes moving from all-ages venues to the nightclubs and developing a repertoire that can fill the evening. While gigs like last week's show at Hunt Club with RadioRadio and Jason Ferguson have been a step in the right direction, part of what has been holding him back is his age -- but that is about to change.
Next Tuesday night, July 12, Stites comes of age and instead of just drinking himself under the table, he's using it as a chance to step through doors, create new opportunities and play to a new audience. In order to celebrate his 21st birthday, he's put together an impressive lineup of some of Tulsa's best pop acts for a show at Ivey, 3340 S. Peoria Ave., in Brookside.
Doors will open early and music will start at 7pm for an evening of great songs that will include sets by Zeke Duhon, Jenny Labow with Mac Ross, RadioRadio and Stephen Speaks as well as Stites with his current band. There is no set cover charge, but donations will be accepted as you feel appropriate (suggested at least $5) with all proceeds going to The Bridges Foundation.
When asked how he picked The Bridges Foundation as a recipient,
Stites said he chose The Bridges Foundation because he has a twin brother who is autistic and the group, which was spawned in 1964, assists special needs and developmentally disabled adults with vocational training and job placement. A keen knowledge of the organization and having seen how it helps the community made picking it as a beneficiary a natural fit.
That makes Tuesday night's show a rare occurrence. Sure, Stites will be celebrating, but he'll also be working (well, playing) and using the opportunity to benefit others. At the same time, he'll be playing to a new audience and opening the venue to a new crowd as well, as Ivey has agreed to make the venue open to all ages for the evening.
As if sets by Zeke Duhon, Jenny Labow and Mac Ross, RadioRadio and Chase Stites aren't enough to guarantee a great night, Stephen Speaks will also be stepping up and playing tunes from Age of The Underdog, which is already setting the mark for the next round of pop albums from Tulsa artists.
Get there early and hang out to see why expectations run high for Stites as one of our most promising young artists and even our more established artists are excited to work with him.
Not Coming Down
Another act that has been virtually inescapable over the past 12 months is Claremore indie-rock band, The Del Toros. Although the band came together out of a partnership between bandleader Dave Rumsey and Adam Nichols in the summer of 2009, the group laid relatively low as it worked on its self produced debut album, Come Down.
After the record was released last July, all the pieces started falling into place with the band scoring some local airplay; landing its single, "Give Up," on KMYZ-FM Z104.5 The Edge's 2010 Homegroan Sampler and playing a number of higher profile shows, including a prime slot on the tulsaoriginalmusic.com showcase with Taddy Porter and Fiawna Forte back in January. Once the band started taking off, it hasn't slowed down or looked back, playing whenever possible and winning over new fans at every turn.
All of the hard work and heavy gigging has paid off as Urban Tulsa readers nominated the band for five ABoT Music Awards for its unique sound that treads a tricky middle ground between indie-rock, Americana and commercial pop. Nominations for Best Live Performance, Indie Rock, Band of the Year, Album of the Year and NewVo Newcomer of the Year put The Del Toros in elite company this year, only surpassed by Rude Amps for most nominations. In fact, the two go head to head in the five aforementioned categories, so it will be interesting to see how the two bands split them up -- or if they will split the vote form the indie rock crowd and leave the door open for walk away as an underdog winner.
The ABoT Music Awards are coming next weekend, July 16, with the awards show and party and The Joint at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. It's a 21 and over event this year, but tickets are available for $26 at tickets.hardrockcasinotulsa.com.
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