POSTED ON JUNE 29, 2011:
Sunday Night Live
In search for the best ways to wind down your weekend
When the weekend hits, it's rarely hard to find a good band or show to get out and enjoy on Friday or Saturday night. And if you're ready to jump start your weekend early by going out on Thursday night, many times your options are just as strong good, even if they aren't as plentiful.
By the time Sunday evening rolls around, most Tulsans are thinking about work on Monday morning and ready to stay in and rest or recuperate from the weekend. If you've still got the itch for some live music and are ready for one more night out before returning to the office, though, Tulsa often provides a few strong options. In most cases, you just have to look around to find out what they are.
If you're an original music fan and have a penchant for indie rock, Soundpony almost always has a band on Sunday evening and more often than not, it's a pretty cool touring act that's passing through on its way to another city.
If you're like me, though, Sundays are designed to wind down. Even if I'm still anxious to hear some live music, I prefer something I can relax to before starting a new week. Usually, that means settling in with something or someone I can count on.
Although they don't get a ton of attention, there are a number of standing house gigs around town, nearly every night of the week. You know what I'm talking about: the bread and butter gigs that crowds can count on. Wink Burcham at The Colony, 2809 S. Harvard Ave., on Monday nights is one of them. So is Cairde Na Gael's bi-weekly gig at Arnie's, 318 E. 2nd, on the first and third Thursday of every month. When Sundays roll around, T-Town has a few options for winding down and easing your mind before starting your workweek.
Locals know the Cimarron biker bar, 2619 S. Memorial Dr., as a go-to club for blues and Sundays are no different. The bar's weekly Sunday Jam starts early, however, with Kevin Phariss Band leading the way from 4p-9p each week. With former members of Flash Terry's band and another Tulsa icon, Rocky Frisco, sitting in on piano, it's a weekly memorial to one of our city's blues legends and a long-running weekly jam with its own fan base and regular attendees.
If you're looking for something a little later in the evening or a bit more pop, that's not an issue. If you're in South Tulsa, cover band Unknown Clone plays George's Pub, 108 N. 1st, in Jenks, and Dan Crossland settles in at Baker St. Pub & Grill, 6620 S. Memorial Dr., with a large catalogue of songs that cover all the bases. One of the coolest new stages in town is also hosting a weekly gig, as Jeff Martinson and Mike Jameson team up to trade songs at The Treehouse, 1738 S. Boston Ave., every Sunday night.
Perhaps the two best options, however, are and old standby and a relatively new, if not completely unfamiliar residency. Where are they, you ask? They're located in two of the most consistent clubs in town: Mercury Lounge and The Colony, so you know you can't go wrong.
Mercury Lounge, 1747 S. Boston Ave., is the old standby. For roughly six years (since the bar opened), Brandon Clark had taken the stage every Sunday evening between 9 and 10pm with an acoustic guitar and a head full of songs. That's pretty much where the commonality between weekly shows ends, however. Any given night will see Clark play a mix of covers and originals, spanning across genres and adjusting to the mood of the room.
What really makes Sunday nights special, though, is seeing just who else may show up. If you're a local musician who walks in and Clark knows who you are (and chances are, he does), you can all but count on him calling you out and inviting you on stage to play a few songs. Mike Williams (formerly of Agony Scene) will likely play a few songs, since he also works at Mercury, and it's not at all uncommon for John Moreland to show up and play a song or three.
Over the last few months, the likes of Dustin Pittsley, Sage Flower and Wink Burcham have all walked in and been called on stage to share some inspiration with the room. (a recent Burcham visit went over so well it landed him a standing Tuesday night gig at Mercury Lounge).
Even when the bar hosts a touring act, Brandon Clark still closes out the night, leading him and others to laugh about the other bands opening for him. Whether it's Dale Watson, The Derailers or another band, everyone becomes a precursor to what has become known as "Sunday Night Service with BC."
Just a couple weekends ago, Ryan Ripperger (of Steven Speaks) stopped in a for a few drinks and when Clark saw him, he stopped by while on break to say hello, then proceeded to turn his guitar and microphone over for a trio of tunes. Sure, Steven Speaks may not fit Mercury's normal niche, but when Sunday rolls around, any rules go out the window.
"That's what Sunday night's all about. I figure it's not about me playing the same songs every week -- who wants to see that?," Clark said recently. "If I see somebody come in and I know they're good -- and sometimes even if I don't -- I'll invite them up to play a song or two. That's what makes it fun."
Over at the Colony, another long-standing residency just came to its conclusion as Pilgrim takes a hiatus (or have broken up, according to some rumors), just as its debut disc finally comes out. It just isn't The Colony without music, though, and Pilgrim has left some big shoes to fill on Sunday evening. If anyone can fill the void, however, it's another Colony favorite, Paul Benjaman.
Benjaman immediately stepped up to fill the slot as soon as Pilgrim finished its run, but instead of setting up as yet another Paul Benjaman Band gig, he is settling in with a rotating cast of musicians that includes many of the usual suspects from the Colony crowd.
This isn't really an open mic night, but it's something close. When Benjaman initially called to tell me about his latest gig, you could hear the excitement in his voice. Not only does Benjaman have a killer band, but he's also got plenty of people who ask him to sit in with them. On Sunday nights he now has the opportunity to turn the tables and create a weekly jam session with a number of good friends and old favorites.
Although this gig is relatively new and hasn't completely found its groove yet, Benjaman knows where it's headed. By calling in a few favors and good friends each weeks, then leaving to door open for a few more to show up and join in, Benjaman's vision is for this weekly jam session to evolve into something akin to Tom Skinner's Science Project (which has returned to Blue Rose Café on Wednesday nights this year) or its younger counterpart, Dustin and Jesse's Higher Education.
Word is spreading quickly and creating a solid buzz for this residency. This was arguably the chosen nightcap gig following Widespread Panic two weekends ago, with word spreading that Chris Combs and Josh Raymer (of Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey) would be sitting in along with Mike Staub and a few more friends that were rumored to be in town and ready to join the jam session that night.
Benjaman may be a little younger, but much like Brandon Clark, he's a student of Tulsa's music scene and always anxious to share the stage with friends and peers that he respects. In turn, Benjamin has quite a few peers that respect and look up to him as well, so the list of guests will grow rapidly. Undoubtedly, as word continues to spread, this will become one of the busiest nights of the week at The Colony and a centerpiece that the regular crowd looks forward to each week.
Sunday evenings may seem sleepy in Tulsa, but that's only on the surface. Next time you're dying to get out and relax with some tunes to wrap up your weekend, you don't have far to look. You'll only need to keep track of the time because once you're drawn in, it's hard to cut out early and Monday morning comes all too soon.
With an extended weekend ahead of us for July 4th, many people will headed to the lake for the holidays, but that doesn't mean the music stops in Tulsa. It may be hot out, but that doesn't mean you can't enjoy the weekend with some tunes. As always, we've got the highlights to get you started.
• Thursday, June 30 -- If you're looking to relax and enjoy the evening (and hopefully a beautiful night and nice breeze), Dan Crossland plays Blue Rose Café, where the food is always good, the beer is always cold and the patio overlooks a great sunset over the river. Meanwhile, Cairde na Gael plays Arnie's, Cain's Ballroom hosts Justin Moore and Soundpony jumpstarts the weekend for the indie crowd with a mixed bill that include The Needles with Jabee, Bloody Ol' Mule and John Wayne's Bitches.
• Friday, July 1 -- If you're looking to relax with an old friend and enjoy a cool patio, you can't go wrong with Jenny Labow at Bruhouse or Travis Kidd at Hunt Club. If you're looking for something fresh and brash, however, you won't want to miss Rude Amps with Miraloma and The Bad Vibes at Soundpony to find out what all the buss is about.
• Saturday, July 2 -- Justin Witte & the Homewreckers will make sure Mercury Lounge is smoldering with its wicked hot blues, while Grady Nichols brings his smooth jazz stylings to Waterfront Grill in Jenks. Young metal fans will want to catch The Sword (which opened for Metallica at BOK Center) with Dead Meadow at Marquee while local pop/rock fans in the know will be next door at Hunt Club for RadioRadio's "Summer Bash" at Hunt Club with full sound and lights and opening sets by Chase Stites and newcomer Jason Ferguson.
The biggest show of the weekend, however, is Hank Williams Jr., playing a special show at The Joint in the Hard Rock Casino -- one of only a handful of shows he will play all year.
• Sunday, July 3 -- We've already given you the lowdown on Sunday's residency shows, but this weekend also brings the annual "Rockets Over Rhema" show with live music and fireworks for 4th of July weekend. This year's lineup includes Christian pop-punk band Hawk Nelson with Fireflight, Stars Go Dim and Axis Worship Band opening the show before the fireworks display.
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