POSTED ON NOVEMBER 18, 2009:
Those Are Still the Days
The Colony remains a landmark for "The Tulsa Sound"
Whether you're originally from Tulsa or not, you can't spend too long in our fair city without hearing about "The Tulsa Sound." Blues and rock combined with a lazy shuffle in the mid '70s with the likes of JJ Cale, Leon Russell and Eric Clapton as part of what became known as a signature of our local music community.
Three decades later, a lazy shuffle isn't the rule anymore. In fact, far from it, as those who stay plugged into the local scene know that blues rock is still part of our heritage, but our contemporary musicians branch out into indie-rock, jazz, bluegrass and any unmarked path that allows their creativity to blossom.
Even so, we still have roots planted firmly in Bob Wills' western swing from the '40s, a largely unheralded jazz heritage and that unmistakable grounding in blues rock. No small part of that is steeped in the '70s, and the parade of stars that flowed through Tulsa to record at Church Studio and work with Leon Russell and his associates. (Check out "Feels Like Religion" on urbantulsa.com.)
For years, I've heard legend of a local club where Clapton sat in and George Harrison rolled up in a limo, just to sit in--even rumors of Phil Collins once gracing a hidden club's small stage. The truth is, however, that club isn't hidden -- it sits openly on Harvard Avenue and has been a neighborhood staple for decades, weathering changes in ownership, name and format.
Originally a local watering hole, then a go-go bar, none other than Leon Russell himself finally owned (in roughly the 1972-75 time period) what was by then known as IV Play. Naturally, the club's small stage was frequented by Russell and his band, and it indeed became the locale of the aforementioned legend.
If you're there at the right time, you might even hear a few yarns spun from the past by longtime regulars and neighborhood locals who remember the night that Harrison rolled up or the evening when Clapton unassumingly stepped onto the stage.
Although ownership and format changed throughout the years, the last change in management came when Elliot Nelson jumped at the opportunity to invest in the location and under the guidance of manager Brian Fontaine, the club has once again become the unassuming home of some of Tulsa's best and most eclectic live music. Now known simply as The Colony (a nod to its original moniker, The Colony Inn), the bar is openly known for its casual atmosphere and cheap drinks. As of late, however, it has also become known as the place to find some of the best of Tulsa's local music scene.
The schedule is almost never advertised, but live music is the rule seven nights a week with no set format. One night might feature rock, another jazz, followed by free-form jazz, blues or even one of our cities more creative DJs. Subtlety is the rule, however, and it's by design.
According to Fontaine, "We definitely like to change it up a bit. We enjoy having new blood and new bands come through, but mostly we like to keep it about the Tulsa music scene. People have asked us why we don't advertise, but when you post a schedule, people are more likely to pre-judge. This way, at The Colony, you can just show up and there's always something cool going on."
Occasionally, however, he will share what's coming up and with Thanksgiving week upon us, I was able to get the lowdown on what The Colony has for the holiday homecoming. After all, even though many may be returning to Tulsa to visit family or have family visiting us, we might also need a night out to unwind. And if a homecoming is the week's premise, why not extend that theme to our musical explorations? If ever there's a time to revisit the heritage of Tulsa's music scene and see how it has evolved with the family tree, the coming week is as good as any to step out, yet keep it in the family. With that in mind, here's a sneak preview of what the coming week has in store.
This weekend kicks off with Jesse Aycock spreading his gospel of songwriting tempered in Americana, country and laid back rock this Friday night, Nov. 20. Aycock has one of the sweetest and unique voices in town and often draws comparison to John Lennon in his writing and delivery. Stone Trio follows on Saturday night as The Colony turns into a fink and big-beat palace with Bo Hallford, Chris Combs and Andrew Bones -- along with whomever else may happen to stop by and sit in to add to the funk.
Next week opens with a standing gig as Wink Burcham takes the stage on Monday, Nov. 23, mixing his own originals with a few covers and a few classic Americana artists like John Prine.
Tuesday evening has rotated format throughout the past year and a half, but commonly been known as the night that Matt Fisher runs the stage, whether by hosting a semi-open songwriter's night, taking over with Vandevander or exploring electronic/ambient jam-rock with Righteous Eagle. This week, however, we've got something special in store as Sean Mullady rolls through from New Orleans with his signature "folk-hop," blending hip-hop beats with acoustic guitar and folk lyrics. Yes, it sounds odd, but it's also oddly engaging, so you'd be wise to check it out.
The week rolls on with a standing gig with Pilgrim on Wednesday night. Yes, it's all the familiar culprits, but this time it's Beau Roberson fronting the ensemble as Matt Fisher, Eric Arndt, Chris Kyle and Pat Ryan come together as a supporting cast for an evening dominated by original tunes that has become one of the most popular weeknight gigs The Colony offers up.
Once Thanksgiving rolls around, we all know you'll be ready to escape the family and chill out a bit. If you're looking for a break from the expected, Comedienne Rendy Rucker will open the evening before Chris Becker and The Souvenirs overload the room with some killer bluegrass licks.
When you've got a room as connected to the local scene as The Colony is, it's inevitable that fellow musicians will show up. Occasionally it's not those you expect that have a hidden talent to spare. That's the case with Colony regular Dave Morrow, who can also blow a mean blues harp. Friday night, Nov. 27 will see him take the stage with Matt Fisher for a night of impromptu blues jamming. As is always the case with Fisher and The Colony, you never know who all else will show up and join the fun as well.
Finally, the week wraps up with Gogo Plumbay on Saturday night, Nov. 27. Fontaine explains it as "So jazz, so not jazz." Whatever it is, it makes you cock your head and tap your feet as Chris Combs, Josh Raymer, Nigel Frye and Mike Staub take the stage with lap steel, drums, sax and tuba, respectively.
If you haven't figured it out yet, there's never a predictable night at the Colony. If you're in a generous mood, you might even offer to take a few of your older relatives with you while they're visiting this week to see what the "Tulsa Sound" has become -- and prove that it's still alive and well at 28th and Harvard.
Yes, the Colony has music every night this week, but that's the case every week -- hopefully something you'll remember in the future, even if it isn't advertised. There's still plenty more going on around town this week, however, and we've got the highlights.
Thursday night is usually worth settling in with a standing gig, and that's no different this week, whether you choose Dustin & Jesse's Higher Education at Eclipse, Cairde na Gael at Arnie's or Ben & Billy banging out tunes on the patio at Bruhouse.
Friday night, Nov. 20, ups the ante, however, as Dirtfoot brings a tighter, more engaging jam-rock sound to Flytrap with Randy Crouch opening. Meanwhile, craziness ensues as Sugar Free All-Stars rocks Arnie's and Billy Joe Winghead takes over at Mercury Lounge. If you're looking for some killer songwriting and musicianship, however, you've got to check out The Greencards at All Souls Acoustic Coffeehouse at 7:30pm. Tickets are only $15 and you can move on to the parties after.
Saturday, Nov. 21 proves to be a good night for blues and Americana in T-Town. You can pick your poison with Steve Pryor at Arnie's, Big Smith with Ben Miller Band at Flytrap or Brian Dunning and the Rock & Roll Trio at Mercury Lounge. If you're looking for something more experimental, check out Brother Bear at Soundpony.
As we get to closer to Thanksgiving, things chill out a little bit, but Cain's is still busy. Tuesday night sees The Misfits return to haunt the Ballroom with Avivyn, The Decomposed and Sixes opening the show. Finally the week wraps up in a big way with the return of Tulsa favorites All American Rejects, sharing the stage with Taking Back Sunday and Anberlin. (Check out "Coming Back Home" on page 50.) Get your tickets early because this one should sell out!
URL for this story: http://www.urbantulsa.comhttp://www.urbantulsa.com/gyrobase/Content?oid=oid%3A28540