Music definitely provides two different experiences: the recorded studio CD and the live show. Although the two go hand in hand and a band has to deliver in both aspects, some bands have their best come out in a studio setting while others are best experienced live. This week Tulsa's live scene lights up as a pair of bands that live for the road roll through town on back to back nights.
When Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers come to town, it's always a party, which makes the band's Thursday night appearance at The Marque worth getting out for to start your weekend early. Although Clyne's live show is one you can bank on, don't discount his studio work. The band's new album, Unida Cantina, which was just released in April, is possibly Clyne's most consistent effort to date.
Although initial reviews have called it his best since The Refreshments (his previous band, which yielded minor hits "Banditos" and "Down Together" in the mid '90s), I don't think that's necessarily the case. Clyne's work with The Peacemakers integrates his humor without turning to novelty or shtick. What really stands out about this record is that the songs are more immediate, with solid melodies lodging the songs in your mind to keep them in your subconscious. That alone make this his best album with The Peacemakers since 2007's No More Beautiful World (a largely overlooked gem), if not the band's best to date.
When discussing the album's more melodic punch with Clyne, he agreed and contributed much of the difference in this album to guitarist Jim Dalton, who joined the band after the group's last release.
"His style is very melodic. He knows how to take space and make it important, so that his playing becomes integral to the song," Clyne explained. "When I play these songs on an acoustic guitar, that's what I miss immediately -- the melodies of his guitar parts..."
Clyne also said that listeners have responded more immediately to Unida Cantina in the live setting as well. "One of indicators is how many requests I get," he said. "If you've seen us before, you know that I circulate a lot and make myself accessible. I'll hang at the bar or whatever before the show and talk to people. In the past, if people asked for a song, it was usually the catalogue stuff: they would request songs from the last album or the album before -- all the way back to the Refreshments'' stuff. This time, I'm hearing a lot of requests for songs from this album already, which is a really good sign."
That response is all Clyne really needs to know about what the fans think of the new CD. He admitted that he prefers not to read or follow reviews because "Once you release your art, you just have to let it go. Besides, it's more fun to write the ones (songs) that let you explore or express yourself independent from what people expect from the band."
Surely, a positive response to the CD is good, but Clyne and his band truly live for the road. The band just played its 20th Circus Mexicus, a multiple-night festival-type show that the band puts on south of the border on a semi-annual basis, and it went off without a hitch. After taking a short break for weddings and honeymoons for a couple of band members, the group is back out on the road until the end of the year.
"We say we're touring in support of the new record, but the record is really just an excuse to get out and play more," Clyne said. "The road is really where this band exists and thrives: human contact is the most important part of what we do because it has the most impact on people.
"What really matters is that in some way, we make people happy," he continued. "Whether it's by coming out as part of a beer drinking, party crowd or by making them think, it doesn't matter to me s long as we make people happy."
Clyne returns to Tulsa this Thursday night, July 21, with a show at The Marquee. Although the band hasn't played this room before, Clyne is still looking forward to returning as he shared with me that "Tulsa really surprised us a long time ago, so we've been returning for about 10 years. We know it's always going to be a fun crowd and a good show." Tickets are still available for $15 and Sons of Bill open the show at 8pm.
It's Been Too Long
Whenever Jonathan Tyler and the Northern Lights return to Tulsa, I'm always happy to get a call from the band leader to catch up on all the group has been busy with. After all, the band may hail from Texas, but Tyler's history of frequent visits make him feel like a hometown boy, even if it's by adoption.
The band's last stop in the area was part of this year's Rocklahoma, which Tyler described as "kind of weird for us."
"There were a lot of heavy metal and hard rock bands, so we definitely stood out, but it was still a lot of fun," he said.
Aside from that show, however, it's been over six months since the Northern Lights have rolled through Tulsa. Catching up with Tyler revealed that the band has kept busy over the past year, having toured with KISS, Kid Rock and more recently Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, of which he commented, "Her band is really tight. They were definitely one of our favorite bands to have toured with so far."
Tyler said that his band is starting to write again and hopes to put a new record together in the near future. In the meantime, the group keeps working the current album, Pardon Me, and spreading the gospel of rock 'n' roll. The band rolls through town once again for an overdue stop at Cain's Ballroom this Friday night, July 22, as part of a two week run through the region before taking some time off to write and recharge before heading back out for another full U.S. tour in the fall.
If, to quote the title track: "It's been too long, since rock 'n' roll turned you on," then you need to get down to Cain's Ballroom this Friday night to catch Jonathan Tyler and the Northern Lights. The band puts on the kind of gritty, no hold barred show that can restore your faith in rock and roll. Tickets are only $15 and our own Paul Benjaman band opens the gig at 8pm.
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