Driving roughly seven hours south, armed with an iPod full of Carolineís Spine, Mutemath, RadioRadio and Rewake, two Tulsa music scene fanatics are about to enter a wonderland of melodies.
Each year Urban Tulsa Weekly sponsors an essay contest, allowing true music geeks of all calibers a chance to attend what is arguably the largest music festival in the nation. South by Southwest (SXSW) will welcome bands from around the world to display their talent on a stage for millions to see March 13-18 in Austin, Tex. Some musicians, like John Mayer, have emerged as chart-topping rock stars and each year some of Oklahoma's finest drive the distance to make their mark on the Austin stage.
After sifting through several entries about how Tulsa's music influences personal lives, the Urban Tulsa Weekly staff chose a winner. Rachael Roach -- more of a dedicated fan than most -- has the opportunity to attend SXSW and report back to UTW's readers with a fresh perspective.
Moving from Springfield, Ill. in search of great tunes and to keep track of Caroline's Spine, among other bands, Roach put all of her energy into learning the scene and supporting her favorite sounds. Going on five years, Roach has come to appreciate local favorites like RadioRadio and hopes to enlighten the unassuming masses to Tulsa's abundance of musical talent.
Erica Daubard, Roach's best friend, is accompanying her to the festival. Of course, UTW's G.K. Hizer will be on the on scene to report back as to who's who among emerging indie artists.
Now, onto Roach's winning essay:
What do I know about the Tulsa music scene? I know it has undoubtedly changed my life. It all started 14 years ago when I saw a Caroline's Spine concert in Springfield, Ill., where I'm from. My low tolerance for ignorance and drama has resulted in a rather lonely existence, but music has always been there to inspire, comfort, teach and connect me to the humanity I rarely feel a part of. I took in as many live concerts and festivals as I could in and around central Illinois and the St. Louis area, so I had seen a lot of bands. Nothing, however, could prepare me for how blown away I was by that Spine show. I'll never forget that concert, and meeting the band afterwards was phenomenal -- they were all so damned nice!
Two years later, I got my first computer and found their tour schedule online. My best friend and I started taking road trips to see them play Wisconsin, Michigan, Kansas, Indiana, even South Dakota. Eventually, we made it to Oklahoma and saw other Tulsa bands open for them including Mad Verb, Rewake and Midwest Kings -- bands we grew to love as well.
Tulsa easily became our favorite destination. Every chance we got, we would make the 7-8 hour drive from Springfield, Ill., to Tulsa, Okla., to see bands perform. We'd swing into town and immediately find an Urban Tulsa Weekly to read about the latest local music happenings. If we didn't already have plans for one of the nights we were here, we'd simply read UTW's recommendations or pick a band at random and go check them out. Rarely, if ever, were we disappointed, as the quality of talent here was/is so reliable.
Over the years, our favorite bands eventually broke up, but Tulsa had become better than home to me. It's been almost five years now since I moved here. It took a while for me to get used to not having my best friend with me, but the music scene here is just as inspirational as ever, even if the crowds seem small and rather oblivious.
One of my favorite local bands is RadioRadio, and without a doubt they are the band I would pick as most SXSW-worthy. I would love for them to play SXSW again. They are the embodiment of the "keep trying" attitude I admire so much about indie artists. Even when their audience is disappointingly (for this fan, anyway) small, they pour their hearts into every show as though they're playing to a sold-out arena. Here's hoping that someday they will!
Going to SXSW would be an unbelievable experience, made better by knowing that my attendance was made possible by my love for the Tulsa music scene. Even should I not be chosen, I feel very blessed. All of the joy I shall ever know from now to the end of my days will be due to Caroline's Spine and many amazing Tulsa musicians.
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