POSTED ON JULY 13, 2011:
RL Jones and Jimmy Blythe threaten an upset win at Saturday's ABoT Music Awards
Believe it or not another year has passed (well, almost a year) and its time for Urban Tulsa Weekly's ABoT Music Awards once again. The game has changed a little for 2011, though, backing up into July and returning to a Saturday night while relocating to new digs. Yes, you heard right: although Cain's Ballroom is filled with history, this year's ABoT awards is blowing up and landing in bigger room, finding a new home at The Joint in the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino.
In fact, just about everything associated with the ABoT Music Awards is bigger this year: the room, the stage, lights, sound and even the talent. Of course, not everything has changed: it's all still locally based talent and all of the nominees were picked and winners decided by you, our loyal Urban Tulsa readership.
Find out First.
When word got out that we were moving to The Joint, Jeff Scheel of Gravity Kills jumped at the chance to host again and help take the ABoT's to the next level. Likewise, the Tulsa Rock Quartet (TRQ) will be the house band for the event, providing music throughout the evening. Not only will TRQ be providing interlude music and leading into each award, but the quartet will also be accompanying live performances by each of the "Artist of the Year" nominees, providing another dimension to performances by Brandon Clark, Olivia Duhon, Chase Stites, Angie Cockrell and Jesse Aycock.
Considering the extreme heat that has come our way lately, even the opening activities will be improved this year (at least form a comfort level) as red carpet arrivals of the nominees will begin at 7pm just inside the Grand Lobby of the Hard Rock Casino as you make your way to The Joint for the 8pm ceremonies. Tickets are still available and can be purchase online at www.hardrockcasinotulsa.com/thejoint or by calling 918-384-ROCK.
Before the awards show is upon us, though, let's finish taking a look at this year's NewVo/Newcomer of the Year nominees. Over the past couple of weeks, we've taken a look at Rude Amps, Chase Stites and The Del Toros as they continue to play regularly around town and build a strong following. Although they may be the better known names in the category, we've got a couple of wild cards thrown into the mix that may very well shake up the game, just as they've been shaking up the local music scene this year.
Although you may not have heard much about RL Jones yet, trust us: you will. Although the band has only played a handful of shows this year, the ones that they have played have made enough of an impression to land them here as one of the true newcomers to the local rock scene.
This isn't a group of young kids, though. Instead, it's a trio of veterans that has already seen both sides of the local music scene. Singer/guitarist Matt Wright was formerly in Shamrock before joining The Feds. Since that band's dissolution, Wright has come home to Tulsa and has returned to the mic, where many of his fans think he belongs. Yes, he's a great guitar player, but he's a charismatic and engaging front man as well, making RL Jones hard to ignore or deny.
The lineup is completed by bassist Tom Pritner (formerly of My Solstice and before that, Television) and drummer Shawn Kintz (of Swampfox), giving the band a distinctly hard rock pedigree. Somehow, though, the group keeps things focused on the modern and mixes indie-rock aesthetic with modern hard rock delivery.
Roughly a year of writing and rehearsing before playing a show has paid off with a tight live set and a yet to be released four-song EP that touches on Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and Queens of the Stone Age. For those more commercially minded, however, just try to tell us you don't hear some Stone Temple Pilots (circa No.4) in the mix. These guys are the real deal and we bet they'll be exploding within the next year.
The nominee that truly comes out of left field this year, however, is country singer and guitarist Jimmy Blythe. Based out of Broken Arrow, Blythe played his first show at The Icehouse in Inola, Okla., in June of 2010. Since then, his schedule has continued to grow organically with most shows coming to him instead of trying to dig up gigs.
An unfortunate lack of venues for country artists means he hasn't actually played in Tulsa this year, but he's made enough of an impression with shows in the surrounding area that he's showing up on Urban Tulsa readers' radar and landing here, which means it should only be a matter of time before a few clubs (like Woody's or Rooster's, hint-hint) take a chance on the new guy and let him kick in a few doors here in town.
Blythe's repertoire covers all of the country bases, form classics like Merle Haggard, Dwight Yoakam and George Strait through the current Texas movement of Stoney Larue, Jason Boland and Jason Aldean, and even a few contemporary country artists. He isn't just a cover act, however, and make sure to work his own songs into the sets as well as he continues to prove his own worth while filling up the bars with enough hits to reel people in.
To date, Blythe hasn't made it to the studio to record his own material yet, but that should be remedied soon. With more than 20 originals in his back pocket and a growing momentum, you can expect to see Blythe back at the ABoTs again next year with a repeat nomination in the country category and perhaps a male vocal and (hopefully) album nod in 2012. It's clear that Urban Tulsa readers think highly of Blythe and we agree and expect big things from him.
So who's going to walk away with the NewVo/Newcomer of the Year award in 2012? It will definitely be a dogfight with two of our hottest indie rock acts (Rude Amps and Del Toros), one of our most promising pop talents in Chase Stites and one of the most impressive straight up rock acts Tulsa has seen in recent years with RL Jones. As the lone country act, however, Blythe may just pull off the upset as an underdog. You'll have to come to the ABoT Music awards at The Joint on Saturday night, July 16, to find out yourself. We'll see you there.
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