When Z104.5/The Edge released its third consecutive annual Homegroan disc, it was merely the first step in the station's efforts to give deserving local artists some additional exposure. Sure, getting a few spins on radio and getting your song on a compilation that's distributed for free helps, but if you're in a local band, what you really need is for people to come out to your live shows and support local music in the clubs.
With that in mind, The Edge steps up once again with the annual Homegroan Showcase at Cain's Ballroom this Friday night, Jan. 20. A few years back, this show debuted as the TulsaOriginalMusic.com showcase, to promote the station's sister site, which is dedicated to streaming local music 24/7. Over time, the site has become nearly synonymous with Homegroan, and an extension of the station's weekly two our local music program.
This year, with a strong compilation to promote, Homegroan takes priority on the marquee and puts the spotlight squarely on the artists featured on this season's featured artists.
That's not the only change in the equation, however. Instead of doing a ticketed show, The Edge is picking up the tab and making it a free show, hoping to pack out the Ballroom and give our local artists maximum exposure on the most coveted stage in town.
Absent this year is an obvious headliner, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Instead of people showing up for the featured artist and leaving, the evening's lineup should provide enough diversity to keep the audience engaged throughout the evening. It also gives stage time to the artists that haven't gotten much stage time in the past and potentially puts them in front of an all new audience.
Nine of the 12 artists featured on this year's compilation will be appearing at the showcase this year, with only Aranda, RadioRadio and Dante & the Hawks not performing. Each of those bands already have a strong following, however, and have less to gain from this show than the artists that are being featured.
That leaves and eclectic mix of artists on board for the evening, making room for the more aggressive rock of Driveby Sonata and Sownds to co-exist next to the garage rock of Madewell? and Kick Tree, funk rock of Roots of Thought and pure pop of FM Pilots. In fact, it's just that mix that makes this lineup so interesting. With nine bands on a free showcase, this is a great chance to not only check out a fistful of our most promising rising local artists, but also see if they can deliver a live show as impressive as their recordings.
Of the nine acts, there are five that I'm particularly interested in seeing live, starting with FM Pilots. This is a fairly young band that has already shown a great grasp of pop hooks and songwriting. In the past, however, that lack of stage experience has shown in its live show, but a year full of gigs including a showcase in Austin during last year's SXSW has given the band plenty of opportunity to mature, so I'm anxious to see just how much the band has grown.
Also high on my list is Roots of Thought. The band's single, "I Think," was one of the most interesting and eclectic on the latest compilation, but it was overshadowed by the fact that it appeared directly after Zac Mobely's "Perverting the American Dream," perhaps the most engaging song on the disc. Still, this is the band that promises to offer the freshest and most unique live show. If the band presents itself as strongly on the Cain's stage as it does in the single, it could prove to be the band to gain the most out of this show and become the must see local band of the year. That said, I'm anxious to see if the band can deliver a full set as fresh and energetic as its single.
Perhaps the only artist with as much to gain from this show as Roots of Thought is Zac Mobely, who will be debuting his new band, The Bourgeois, the Friday night. Mobely has already given the local scene a couple of times, first with Have Fun Dying (in Tulsa) and then with Popular Culture. Although both bands had solid releases, neither one really ignited on the live stage. With his latest work, however, Mobely has his most immediate and engaging songs to date. If he can translate that immediacy with The Bourgeois, he's got the potential to finally make a heavy impact on the local scene.
The final two acts on my list have already been laying the groundwork to become a pair of go to bands on the local scene. Able the Allies has been a staple act at Treehouse and Hunt Club with a mix of covers and handful of originals. A strong showing at Homegroan, though, could help establish the band as an original act and help it transition to more gigs featuring its own material.
The Loaded Dice, on the other hand, has already established itself as a solid original band, playing a fistful of battle of the band gigs and picking up nearly any gig it can. All the group needs now is a full house at Cain's to prove it's ready to play higher profile shows. Every time I've seen the group, it has been tighter than the last, so I'm not expecting any surprises here -- I'm just excited to see the group finally get to play in front of a larger crowd and win over the kind of following it deserves at this point.
The Homegroan Showcase takes over Cain's Ballroom this Friday night, Jan. 20 with doors opening at 5pm and music starting at 5:30pm. Admission is free at the door, so plan on arriving early to see who will prove worthy of keeping an eye out for in 2012.
Stepping up Again
Cain's Ballroom will be busy again on Saturday night, but this time for an altogether different, but even more worthy cause. Last summer, Dale Simpson's death from complications from a blood clot took many by surprise. He had long been supportive of the local music scene and had become more involved over the past couple of years as part of Hoffman Simpson Entertainment, stepping into artist management and helping guide acts like Kristin Nicole Band.
This weekend, a handful of artists step up to take part in the Dale Simpson Benefit concert and Family Jam. Local artists and friends of Simpson, Travis Kidd and Brandon Clark Band will open the show before headliner and Red Dirt superman Mike McClure headlines the night. McClure is currently riding high off of the release of his latest disc, Fifty Billion, which is arguably his best and most focused release to date.
McClure doesn't play Tulsa nearly often enough and this is an opportunity to see him and his band at full strength on the Cain's Ballroom stage. As the show's title suggests, you can also bet on a few guests and Red Dirt staples showing up as well and the evening turning into a jam session before it's all over. Tickets are $18 in advance or $20 at the door and proceeds will go to Simpson's children.
If you haven't submitted your entry for this year's annual SXSW essay contest, what are you waiting for? The deadline is looming and the lineup just keeps getting better, including appearances by keynote speaker Bruce Springsteen, Ann and Nancy Wilson, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals and most recently announced: the return of John Mayer. Rumors continue to swirl as well that Radiohead will drop in for a "secret" show, but only time will tell on that one. Submissions are due by Friday, Jan. 27!
Also looming is the performing artist deadline for this year's Mayfest, which is planned for May 17-20. If you haven't applied yet, go to tulsamayfest.org and follow the link to apply through sonicbids by Monday, Jan. 23.
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