The OK Electric Festival, presented by Living Arts of Tulsa, is a celebration of Oklahoma electronic music and artists, but don't let curator Steve Beard hear you refer to it as "electronica."
"There's a theme," he said. "It's a celebration of electricity and electric music. What it means to me is being electric and being alive, you know, plugging in. I don't think any of these bands is going to sound like Erasure."
So no catchy, '80s pop. Check. However, Beard is loathe to commit to what actually will be there.
"We have a lot of great bands that are going to be approaching music with this theme of electronic music, or electric," he said. "It's hard to say how they're going to approach it."
And one gets the feeling he doesn't want to know. Like he wants to be surprised. That said, he does throw out some specifics in terms of what a couple of acts will bring to the table.
"Living Arts has been doing this for a while now, but this is the first time that the new music committee is kind of heading up the project," he said of this year's festival. "The board of directors and Steve Liggett threw this committee together a few years ago, and we've done a lot of great shows, but we've just been waiting for this one. This is the big one, and it's going to be a lot of fun. We're excited about it."
And then he finally gets a little specific.
"We have some projects from a college down in Denton, Texas -- the Center for Experimental Music and Media will have some music," he said. "And then we have a woman who teaches at NSU in Tahlequah, Patricia Surman. She's an incredible flute player, and she's playing with her husband. They have a really, really cool thing going on. They call themselves DuoInteraktiv. She plays the flute, and he runs her sounds through a microphone, through processors, through a laptop and effects."
Local musician Pete Tomshawny, who will also participate it OK Electric, spoke a bit more specifically than Beard would, initially putting perhaps the finest point on the festival and its intentions.
"Basically, if someone pulled the plug, we wouldn't have a show, because it's electric," he said. "If you lost power in a bar and people had acoustic instruments, they could still drink and listen to music."
Not so at OK Electric.
"There are a variety of ways that the music will be electric or electrified as it were," he said. "DuoInteractiv is really interesting -- the flute sound is processed, but it's live sound that is processed electronically. And then you'll have people who are playing acoustic instruments like drums along with electronic sounds. Some of it will also be all pre-recorded and with video. People create computer music and put it together with video."
It should be noted that in the past, OK Electric has occurred alongside another festival called Pocket Video, which revolved around works shot on portable video devices, namely phones. Not so this year, but video remains a large part of this festival, Tomshawny said, largely due to the evolution of the arts in general.
"Video will actually be a big part of this event," he said. "The inter-media relationships are becoming more common. It's more common for musicians to be doing visual things as well, and for artists to use music in what they're doing."
In addition to Tomshany, Daniel (S) of And There Stand Empires will be contributing to the festival, along with other local players, each with their own ideas for the electric / electronic theme.
"All the bands are coming in with their approaches to the theme," Beard said. "I know every one of them puts on a great show, and they're all accomplished musicians."
As far as what those approaches are, Beard isn't coy, he just doesn't know yet, and he won't until the players take the stage.
"Some of them are starting from scratch -- they're going to have something expressly for this festival," he said. "I don't know what it is, but it will go with the electronic theme. If they want to break the rules, that always works, too. That's what rock and roll is all about."
Okay, so that's pretty cool.
"What I do know about these people that are booked is that these are amazing musicians. Dylan Aycock plays around town and does a lot of different things, Daniel plays with And There Stand Empires, the school out in Denton is an art school, and the flute player from NSU is classically trained," Beard said. "All these artists and performers do have credibility of being accomplished musicians. That's why they were booked."
The event kicks off Friday, Oct. 19, at 8pm at Living Arts at 307 E. Brady St., and again on the evening of October 20. Tickets for students and Living Arts members are $5, and $7 for non-members.
Red Fork Native American Film festival, Presented by Tulsa Community College
This annual film festival runs this weekend and features a film called The Unrest, directed by Oklahoma's own Mark Williams. Tulsa Community College will host the annual on Friday, October 19 and Saturday, October 20 at the West Campus, 7505 W. 41st St.
The film is inspired by the events surrounding the 1966 disappearance of Native American children from the Stone Creek Indian Boarding School, and while that tale in and of itself is pretty chilling (the kids were never found), directory Williams said that the really scary thing wasn't those disappearances.
"I want [audiences] to walk away from it realizing the real horror wasn't the story, but what really happened at some boarding schools," he said, referring to the malnourishment, the physical abuse, the hard labor, and most assuredly, the "Kill the Indian, save the man" mantra that informed the so-called curriculum of so many of those schools. "That's what inspired me to make this movie."
The movie tells the story of the missing kids and their modern-day return. They're still little kids, so suffice it to say that this isn't the feel-good movie of the year.
"I hope audiences enjoy this movie for its scares and the suspense that I was going for," Williams said.
The festival itself presents independent movies that put the work of Native American actors, directors and producers on display. This year, there will also be an Art Market showcasing the creations of area Native American painters and other artists. The Art Market will be open from 4 to 9pm on Friday, Oct. 19 and 1 to 9pm on Saturday, Oct. 20, and hosts the nationally-renowned Dana Tiger as its featured artist.
Other guests of the festival include Williams and filmmaker Sterlin Harjo, a Native American filmmaker who is one of our own, and has had success with films such as Four Sheets to the Wind and Barking Water.
The festival will be held at TCC's West Campus and is free and open to the public. Films begin at 7pm on Friday and at 1pm on Saturday. For more information, call 918-595-8295, and a full schedule can be found at facebook.com/redforknaff.
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