POSTED ON OCTOBER 21, 2009:
School of Classic Rock
Taddy Porter prepares to break out of the freshman class
Taking Notes. While Taddy Porter fleshes out its sound, the guys aren't afraid to tinker with the formula and show different influences.
The last time I officially checked in with Taddy Porter, the group was just breaking into the Tulsa market. The group consists of young guns with a positive attitude, confident swagger and fresh take on the classic rock vibe. Roughly a year later, the boys shot to the head of the class, making headway by staying the course, touring heavily and reaping the benefits of their hard work.
Bassist Kevin Jones said, after finishing a sound check for the opening gig for Saving Abel last week, "It doesn't really seem like much when I think back on it, but when you look at it all on paper, we really have had a lot happen over the past year."
Since the beginning of the year, the group has showcased at SXSW, signed a publishing and record deal and recorded its official debut disc, which is awaiting a release date. On top of that, the group has toured constantly, split between its own club gigs, sharing dates with regional acts such as Jonathan Tyler and the Northern Lights and filling opening slots for acts like Shinedown, Saliva, Framing Hanley and currently Saving Abel.
That's quite an impressive feat for a band that's only been together for roughly two years. The band's first official show with its current lineup was Oct. 16, 2007 on the Stillwater scene, but the groundwork was laid earlier that summer when lead vocalist and guitarist Andy Brewer walked into a party at drummer Doug Jones' house, and Jones asked him to sit in and play guitar for a few songs.
The two immediately hit it off and by the end of the summer were in the process of forming the band, which took shape when Brewer invited lead guitarist Joe Selby (whom he had taken guitar lessons from) to come over and jam with the pair.
As the chemistry gelled, Selby departed with his former band to join Taddy Porter along with bassist Kevin Jones (drummer Doug's younger brother) who got the thumbs up a few weeks before the band's first gig.
From there, it's been a virtual rocket ride as the group won over local Stillwater stages and quickly started moving into other markets with a scorching live show and songwriting that impressively melds the classic rock influences of Cream, Zeppelin, Allman Brothers and Bad Company with the modern strut of Jet, King of Leon and Black Keys.
Tracks like "King Louie" and "Railroad Queen" quickly became fan favorites as the band brought its heavy grooves to the forefront and the fun back to rock and roll.
These boys aren't a one-trick pony, however, and are developing their style as they move forward. While many of the songs from the band's independent Monocle EP will reappear on the band's freshly recorded label debut, fans can also look forward to a handful of new cuts.
The band has recorded its first piano ballad in "Long Slow Drag" and has upped the ante on its pop sensibility with lead single "Shake Me" (which is now available on iTunes) without sacrificing any of the band's swagger or Southern rock charm.
Kevin said, "'Shake Me' is a little different and a bit more radio friendly than some of our other stuff, but we're hoping it will land us some airplay so we can do whatever we want."
If the band's charm and luck hold out, that shouldn't be an issue. "Shake Me" has enough grit and swagger to land it on modern rock radio next to bands like Jet, Saving Abel and Shinedown, yet enough soul to land it on AOR stations with classic rock leanings -- like Tulsa's own KMOD.
While the band fleshes out its sound, the guys aren't afraid to tinker with the formula and show different influences of the band. As Kevin explained, "Each song may have a little more of one aspect or another, but it all works together as a whole."
With the album recorded and waiting for mastering, the band now waits for an official release date, which looks to be between now and the end of January.
A new management agreement has parlayed the band onto a 40-date "Class of '09" tour with Taddy Porter acting as the "Freshman", opening act on a bill that also includes Pop Evil, Red and headliner Saving Abel.
"We've got the same managers as Saving Able," Kevin explained, "and they came up with the idea of this 'Class of '09' tour, something they can do every year with a class of 2010, '11, whatever... The idea is to put three known acts together: a band with one single as the sophomore, another with two or three singles as the junior and a headliner with an unknown act as the freshman. We'll be the freshman act on this tour."
With a year that's seen the band already spend much time on the road, Kevin said regarding the current tour, "We've already played a lot of places, but by the time we finish this 'Class of '09' tour, we'll have played in almost all of the 50 states, except Alaska and Hawaii."
The band's record deal with independent label Primary Wave not only allows the band to retain the rights to its songs, but also includes distribution through EMI records, which will land the group's debut disc in all the major outlets, from Best Buy to Wal-Mart and everything in-between.
When combined with the exposure the band is getting from its opening slot as freshmen on Saving Abel's Class of '09 Tour, even bigger things seem to be on the horizon for these Stillwater boys.
"The first time I heard Andy sing and heard the songs, I thought we really had a shot," Kevin said. "At least there was this hope, even if it's a one in a million chance, but I really believed this band could do something big. That's why I chose to do this instead of go to college."
Fortunately, Kevin's ear and heart appear to be correct. It might still be early in the game, but all indications are that Taddy Porter could be one of Oklahoma's next big exports, next to bands like All American Rejects, Cross Canadian Ragweed and Hinder.
While only time will tell, the band's touring schedule and growing fan base alone promise a long run, even if the group doesn't score a massive hit record. That alone is a big accomplishment.
Before Taddy Porter heads out on the Class of '09 tour, which starts Oct. 27 in San Antonio, the group will be in Tulsa this weekend, opening for Drive by Truckers at Cain's Ballroom on Sunday, Oct. 25.
It's a show that promises to let the band lean more heavily into its classic and Southern rock influences and, flaunt the strength of its bluesy swagger before heading out on a more modern-rock oriented tour. That makes it the perfect time to experience Taddy Porter if you haven't yet, and be able to say "I saw them before..."
More Southern Swagger
In case you haven't heard, Cross Canadian Ragweed is returning to town for a show at Cain's Wednesday, Oct. 28. While a Ragweed show is always a party, this time they've changed up the bill a little and instead of bringing along another Red Dirt staple like Wade Bowen or Stoney Larue, they've upped the rock ante by tapping Jonathan Tyler and the Northern Lights to open.
Tyler and crew have been through Tulsa a handful of times, most recently a few weeks ago for a weeknight show at Bob's, and each time proves the band to be one of the more promising regional acts I've seen. Regular tour mates with Taddy Porter over the past year, Tyler and his band might not have quite broken out in Oklahoma yet, but he's already got a big following in Texas and is growing throughout the Southwest.
In fact, Tyler's trajectory appears to be similar to that of Taddy Porter. While his debut disc, Hott Trottin', swells with bluesy, Southern rock, it's still a little raw and ragged.
The live show, however, is where Tyler and his band mates excel, and the group has been working the road heavily in anticipation of its next release. Besides working the club circuit, Tyler's band got some great exposure as an opening act for a two-week run this past summer on the Kid Rock/Lynyrd Skynyrd tour.
Seeing how the band has a deal with F-Stop records, an imprint of Atlantic that is run like an indie label, only with the weight and distribution of a major behind it, this disc should prove to be pivotal.
"This record should be a big deal with a lot of national coverage," Tyler said. "That's why we've been touring so hard to build our fan base in Texas and Oklahoma before releasing the record."
Aside from a showcasing to a packed house at DFest two summers ago, Tulsa hasn't seemed to catch on yet, perhaps because Tyler's touring schedule has brought him through town on weeknights the past few visits. Fans of bluesy, Southern infused rock and solid songwriting should look him up, however.
An opening slot for Cross Canadian could change all that, which makes the Cain's show all the more promising. Tyler's charisma and tightly wound band combined with Ragweed touring to support its new disc, Happiness and All the Other Things, makes this show a safe bet for a great night of music.
I might be a little behind the eight-ball on this one, but those still mourning the loss of Michael Jackson will want to check this one out.
Saturday, Oct. 24, Thrill the World will try to set a new world record for the largest simultaneous dance while paying homage to Michael Jackson. Worldwide, the event has groups in 36 countries and 314 event locations participating as the group looks to have roughly 270,000 people dance simultaneously to Jackson's landmark work, "Thriller."
The Tulsa chapter of Thrill the World will meet at Ballroom Revolution (101st and Elm, in Broken Arrow) to perform the dance at 7:30pm on Oct. 24.
Prior rehearsals have already taken place, but you can still get involved by pre-registering at HYPERLINK "http://www.angellikeus.com"; www.angellikeus.com. Even if you haven't previously been to a rehearsal, you can still be involved as the final practice will be held at 5pm before the event starts at 7:30pm.
Yes, the weekend is upon us yet again and we've got the highlights to get you out the door. If none of these tickle your fancy, crash one of your favorite clubs such as The Colony or Eclipse to see who's playing under the radar. Remember: Support your local bands.
Here are some highlights for regional and national touring acts sitting out more popular venues.
Thursday, Oct. 22 has a trio of shows for the younger crowd downtown. First up, Relient K headlines Cain's Ballroom with Copeland and Barcelona.
Just down the sidewalk, Get Rad plays Soundpony and the Marquee hosts Kill Hannah with a pair of unannounced local openers. Personally, I'd recommend you settle in with Dustin and Jesse's Higher Education at Eclipse for your Thursday night fix.
Friday night is worth a stop at Mercury Lounge for country and American fans to hear Ray Wylie Hubbard, and roots and jam fans should check out Mountain Sprout at Flytrap Music Hall.
Saturday, Oct. 24, is by far the busiest night of the week with MuteMath and As Tall As Lions at Cain's (check out page 43 for more info on this show); Senses Fail with A Skylit Drive, Closure in Moscow and Fact at The Marquee; Rebulution at Electric Circus with Passafire and Outlaw Nation and DJ Moody spinning a Dance Revolution at Soundpony.
Locally minded fans might prefer to check out Freakjuice at Mercury Lounge or Steve Pryor at Arnie's on Saturday.
Meanwhile, living legend Bob Dylan returns to Tulsa for a show at the Brady Theater the same night, and tickets are still available for $49.50 and $59.50.
Sunday night's big show is the aforementioned Drive By Truckers gig at Cain's with James McMurty and local heroes in the making (by way of Stillwater), Taddy Porter opening the show.
Finally, the week wraps up with OAR and Elmwood at Cain's (relocated from The Brady), and a sold out Owl City show at The Marquee with Brooke Waggoner and The Scene Aesthetic on Tuesday, Oct. 27, followed by Cross Canadian Ragweed and Jonathan Tyler & the Northern Lights at The Ballroom on Wednesday.
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