POSTED ON MARCH 2, 2011:
Students of Groove
Taddy Porter shows what it's learned while headlining the 4th annual TOM.com showcase
When looking for a place to listen to local music and get a sampling of what's out there, you have a few options. Your primary choices on radio are The Homegroan Show (Sunday nights, 11pm-1am, on 104.5 KMYZ-FM The Edge) or the DOMK! show (Friday nights, 11pm-Midnight, on 97.5 KMOD-FM). There's also a nice selection of local music playing 91.3 KRSC-FM, the Rogers State University station broadcasting mostly via the Local Flavors show (Monday nights, 7pm-11pm). After that, however, you have to scour the Internet to get your fix.
Based on the positive response that The Edge has received from the ongoing Homegroan Show, the station launched an online sister station to stream local and Oklahoma based music 24 hours a day, thus birthing www.tulsaoriginalmusic.com (TOM.com). Since its inception, the site has had a slowly, but steadily growing listener base. I won't lie: the playlist can be spotty at times, but it does provide a much needed outlet for local music of any style: rock, pop, indie, blues, folk, red-dirt -- you name it -- all playing side by side.
The real highlight of the year, however, is easily the annual TOM.com showcase at Cain's Ballroom. The format has been tweaked from year to year in order to fine tune the show, but it never fails to be a nice snapshot of the local music scene and highlight reel of both the current spotlight acts and a few up and comers.
This year's showcase is Friday, March 4, and features the garage-rock of relative newcomer The Del Toros, along a great taste of our pop-rock and indie scene with established local favorites Eric and the Adams and Fiawna Forte, respectively. The night also serves to kick off what promises to be yet another big year for headliner Taddy Porter, before the boys head back out on the road to continue their ongoing assault of classic-based rock 'n' roll.
Over the past year, Taddy Porter made the jump from local favorite (the band is really based in Stillwater, but we like to claim them as our own) to bona fide stars in waiting. The band signed a deal with Primary Wave records (complete with distribution via major label EMI)in early 2010, released its debut and has been busy on the road ever since, only recently taking a few weeks off before heading back out on the road next week.
If you got a chance to see the band when they played their homecoming headline gig at Bob's in January, you know that the heavy roadwork has already started paying off. No longer just a classic-rock bar band, Taddy Porter is beginning to develop a real swagger and self-assuredness on stage, something that only comes from learning from experience.
Last year's schedule included what occasionally seemed like a never ending tour with Saving Abel as well as club dates with Evans Blue, a three week tour with Slash and another three week tour opening for Alter Bridge.
"We definitely played with bands of some different genres and styles, but we really learned a lot from it," said guitarist and lead vocalist Andy Brewer. "We were kind of thrown into it with the Saving Abel tour, but we've really learned to work well together, both on and off stage.
"We really owe that to the crew of Saving Able," he continued. "They were all veterans and didn't have to help up, but they were really cool to us and showed us the ropes."
In the fall, Taddy Porter joined Slash for a three-week run that started in Toronto.
"We'd never been outside of the US," Brewer said. "It was sold out and even though they didn't know who we were, a lot of people dug it. Since then, we've started getting e-mails saying 'We can't get your music on Canadian iTunes,' so it's been another learning experience. We're working on figuring out distribution outside of the US now, so that we can get to everyone, no matter what country they're in."
On the tour, Myles Kennedy -- who sings with Slash and fronts Alter Bridge -- befriended Taddy Porter, offering advice and encouragement along the way.
"He came up to me one night and said 'You guys are great!'" Brewer said. "He's an ideal musician; he does it all himself -- he sings, plays guitar, he's totally professional. He encouraged us to keep going and hooked us up with Alter Bridge for that tour."
Although Slash and Alter Bridge (and Saving Abel and Evans Blue, for that matter) have a distinctly different style and audience than Taddy Porter, the band benefitted from the tours, not just in exposure to a new audience, but also in the learning experience.
"We definitely have different styles of music, but it's good to play for different people," Brewer said. "It helps you learn who your crowd is.
Porter Report. Over the past year, Taddy Porter made the jump from local favorite to bona fide stars in waiting. The band toured with Slash, signed a deal with Primary Wave records and a major distribution deal with EMI in early 2010, released its debut and has been busy on the road ever since
"I understand that every crowd isn't going to be our crowd," he continued, "but I like to see how people react to the band and how a band and the front man react with the audience. The bands that I've always really looked up to are the ones that I like the way they handle the crowd and how they present themselves, whether it's their energy or mystique or whatever. I watch that and try to learn from it."
One tour highlight for Taddy Porter was a show in Norfolk, Va.
"By the end of the set, I raised my hands in the air and the whole place just went nuts. Afterwards, I tried to remember how we got there and what I did and still enjoy the experience," Brewer said. "Going into each show, I try and know what the crowd is and what it's like before I even go on stage. I know not everyone will dig us or like our music, but at the end of the day, it's the music that brought us together and that's what it's all about."
The Stillwater band is taking those lessons with them as the band sets out for the Midwest and Northeast after this weekend's TOM.com showcase. "We're playing shows in Flint (Mich.), Columbus (Ohio), a couple in Virginia and a few up northeast," Brewer said. "They love their rock 'n' roll out there and the crowds are starting to build. We've played with some big bands and now the people are coming back, so we're starting to see the crowds grow, which has been really cool."
Taddy Porter will only be out for a couple weeks before heading back this direction and heading down to Austin for South by Southwest in a few weeks, where the band is already confirmed for a Friday evening showcase as well as a Jim Beam-sponsored party, with the possibility of playing a couple more if the opportunities present themselves.
"That's what we're going down there for," Brewer said. "We love gigs like that and we love to play, so we'll play as much as they'll let us. It's going to be a great time."
Of course, the exposure at SXSW could (and hopefully will) push Taddy Porter on to the next level in the band's career. That makes this weekend's TOM.com showcase the perfect time to see what these students of rock have learned over the past year and send them back out on the road in style. Tickets are $8 in advance or $10 at the door and the show starts at 8pm for the all-ages event.
As always, there are plenty of shows around town this weekend. Relatively speaking, it's a fairly quiet week -- perhaps the calm before the storm as a plethora of bands come through Tulsa in the next few weeks on their way to and from Austin for SXSW. Even so, it's not hard to find a little something for everyone, so here are the highlights to get you started.
The week kicks off on a classic note as Mark Bruner plays the new Blue Rose Café on Thursday, March 3, revisiting the vibe that Blue Rose started in its heyday. Elsewhere in town, Streetlight Manifesto headlines The Marquee and Ben Kilgore holds his weekly gig at Ivey (on the rooftop patio, if the weather cooperates).
Friday, March 4's highlight is the aforementioned TOM.com showcase at Cain's, but that's not the only show in town. The Blue Rose continues in its classic vein with a Blue Combo reunion while a true classic, Eric Burdon & the Animals, plays River Spirit Events Center. Meanwhile, Dave and the Haters play Hunt Club and Systems holds its CD/EP release party at Reverb with Parallels and Standing Upright for the all-ages crowd.
Also on March 4, HIPTRONIK (2) returns, this time to the Marquee for another big dance party featuring Ed Crunk, DJ Moody and DJ Darku J.
The big show on Saturday, March 5, is Sugarland with Little Big Town at BOK Center, but local music abounds with Benjamin Lyman at Eclipse, Travis Kidd at Hunt Club, RadioRadio at Marley's Pizza and The Fiddlebacks at The Colony. The weekend's stealth show with the most potential however, has to be The Orbans with Oil Boom at Mercury Lounge, so don't miss it.
Sunday, March 6, is the annual Bob Wills Birthday Celebration with the Texas Playboys, Leon Rausch, Tommy Alsup and The Roundup Boys celebrating both Wills and country swing.
The rest of the week is fairly quiet until Wednesday March 9, when Ian Moore returns for the final show at Bob's to celebrate the release of El Sonido Nuevo with his band, The Lossy Coils. Tickets are $12 in advance or $15 day of and the show starts at 8pm.
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