As the new year opens up before us, it becomes the season that everyone rolls out their "best of" lists. In the past I've largely shied away from doing that, although I usually reflect on a few highlights.
FILE PHOTO/JEREMY CHARLES
Looking back on 2012, it's hard to deny Tulsa had a great year on its concert calendar. Although the local scene continued to struggle with a lack of solid venues, The Vanguard opened its doors in July and The Shrine reopened a familiar spot at the corner of 18th & Boston, giving us a couple more solid places that are open to original music and booking local bands. We also had a couple of venues turn over in the last quarter as Fishbonz became Red Dirt Dance Hall and Crystal Pistol recently changed hands and reopened as The Yeti. Both have potential, but haven't quite found their footing yet, so until they truly find their identities, the verdict is still out on how they will or won't help the local music scene.
On a larger scale, we saw some amazing national tours come through town like Bon Iver, Avett Brothers, and Jack White -- not once, but twice, with two completely different yet equally amazing shows. The show that still stands out to me, however, was an absolutely amazing January appearance at Cain's Ballroom by The Civil Wars.
Of course, BOK Center packed the calendar as well, but my most memorable moment there wasn't near as glorious, as "The Mighty Van Halen" came roaring into town and proved to be neither mighty nor roaring. The band played fabulously, but David Lee Roth couldn't keep up. Sure, his "I forgot the words, man ..." schtick is funny at first, but when it runs the duration of the night and includes punting arguably your biggest (and easiest to sing) hit, turning an encore of "Jump" into utter mush, it's time to hang it up.
Locally, the New Tulsa Sound clique continued to make headway, dominating the live calendar, but aside from another strong compilation and a long overdue studio effort from Wink Burcham, it finished the year leaving me wanting more.
In fact, the local scene as a whole left me wanting something more in 2013. Yes, we've got some strong bands, but we've got precious few highlights for 2012. Tom Skinner put out a brilliant album, but that one can be attributed to Mike McClure and 598 Records. And yes, we had a stack of local releases in 2012, but which of them really stand out as 2012 comes to a close? We the Ghost is the buzz band of the year and managed to put out a pair of digital EPs, of which its latest, White Noise, is far superior. Only time will tell, however, if those songs keep their freshness or grow stale within a few months.
So what does that leave me looking forward to in 2013? For starters, I'm hoping to find a few new bands that truly knock me off my feet. Admittedly, there are a few around town that I haven't been able to catch yet and are starting to create a buzz. That said, I'm looking forward to finally seeing All About a Bubble and The Bourgeois (with a refined lineup) as I dig into the new year. I'm also anxious to see if For the Wolf delivers on the potential it showed in its appearance on the latest Homegroan compilation. Likewise for Young Lyons, which promises to finally tame John Lyons' "Smashing Pumpkins lite" tendencies and play toward his pop sensibilities while still keeping a rock edge.
I'm also looking forward to hearing some impressive recordings come from our local artists. Jesse Aycock started recording a new disc last March; it still has yet to see the light of day. I can't wait to hear what Dustin Pittsley delivers with his new disc. Hopefully, it will find the balance between blues and transcendental jam-rock that his live show has been striking in recent months.
Also waiting on the wings are recordings from aforementioned bands Young Lyons, who have been working with Brad Mitcho, and The Bourgeois, who have been recording long awaited new tracks at Trent Bell Labs in Norman. And then there's Vandevander, who has released a couple singles digitally to whet our appetites, but has yet to announce anything more.
Who else would I love to hear from in 2013? How about a solo album from Scott Evans -- one of the best songwriters in the Red Dirt circle not to put anything out in the past 10 years or more? Yes, Mr. Evans, I'm the guy who accosts you in QT once a month and I'm still waiting because I know you've got it in you.
And while I'm dreaming, why not dream big? If I'm going to scroll back, I'd also like to hear a follow-up to Red Ecco's brilliant debut. That raises the question: What has Randy Patton been up to lately and when will he emerge from the studio with something new? And if Vandevander doesn't emerge with a full-length follow-up to the "Great State of ..." trilogy, after recent teasers, I'll be screaming by year's end.
What I really hope for in 2013, however, is for some new acts to come out of left field and really surprise me -- and make the local music scene stand up and take notice at the same time.
In my opinion, what Tulsa really needs is a straight-up, no-frills rock & roll band to kick the scene in the ass and wake it up. Not indie, not post-modern, just a no-labels, no-nonsense rock band that breathes a little excitement into the local scene. Tulsa hasn't seen that since My Solstice disbanded -- or more recently, RL Jones, who began to emerge then went into hiding.
I know there's got to be a band out there; it's just a matter of finding it. And before 6,000 of you out there play the bitch and email me that I haven't given your band a chance, do me a favor: let your music do the talking. Sure, you can send me an invite, but I work two jobs and have a family just like everyone else. If your band is that good, word will spread on its own. So get out there, rehearse your asses off to get tight and start killing it in your local shows so no one has a choice to do anything but notice your band and talk it up. And hopefully, with any luck, you'll be the band I'm talking about this time next year.
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