POSTED ON JULY 20, 2011:
Let it Flow
Good vibes and positive energy from The Big O Show
About a year ago, a good friend tipped me off to a new band with a ton of potential. "You need to check out and cover The Big O Show," I was told. Although I made note of the band, infrequent dates and a busy personal schedule prevented me from crossing paths with the band and its front woman, Andrea Kyle, until just recently.
As luck would have it, I feel like I'm finally plugging into the group at just the right time, as its continued evolution has it arguably hitting a new creative plateau with much promise to take off in another creative growth spurt in the near future.
You see, had I started following the band a year ago, it would have been a much different creature and although I enjoy seeing and hearing groups evolve, the current lineup and musical direction are what separates this group from its peers. Sure, the band is still relatively raw and has room to grow, but it already stands out with an intangible quality and unique sound that makes it a band worth following as it continues to develop.
According to keyboardist, singer and band leader Andrea Kyle, the group has something of a tiered history. Originally spawned out of collaboration with guitarist Dylan Layton that dates back roughly a year and a half, the band really started to take shape when drummer Michael Back (who also plays with Layton in Whirligig) joined them about a year ago. Bassist Andy Jenson joined the group on the recommendation of Paul Benjaman six months ago, in what seemed to round out the lineup and see the band really take life. The final addition (at least for now) came when Kristin Ruyle joined the group nearly two months ago, adding additional percussion to the band's arrangements.
Although the band does step into the territory of covering classic Tulsa artists like Leon Russell and J.J. Cale, The Big O Show expands more into classic R&B and soul influences to give the group a different character and direction. Kyle said there really aren't any boundaries, as the band draws from all genres.
"We might go from a tango beat to a Rush song and hit on disco, reggae and blues along the way," she said.
Of course, plenty of jam bands talk the talk, but somehow, The Big O Show makes it all work. Of course, it helps to have players like Layton and Back, who have been essential to the longevity of Whirligig, in the band, but the real key to the group is Kyle's unbridled energy.
Kyle readily admits that the band started when she was taking guitar lessons and struck up a conversation with Layton when waiting on him at a local restaurant. When she mentioned that she played guitar and he offered to jam with her, she took him up on the offer and a new bond was quickly formed.
"I talk to a lot of people who say, 'We should get together and jam,' and I also always say, 'Sure, just call me,' but no one ever does," Layton said. "She did, though, and she wasn't shy about it."
Layton said most musicians in that situation sit back and watch, but not Kyle.
"She was right into it," he recalled. "And before long she was saying, 'Here's something I wrote.' Once she asked about possibly forming a band, it was easy. Why wouldn't I want to play with this girl?"
Layton admitted that Kyle's playing was a little raw, but her enthusiasm was contagious. Once the band started coming together, she transitioned back to keyboards and while Layton may take over on guitars, Kyle is definitely the band leader and center of energy in the band.
"I had some originals that I'd written throughout the years," Kyle said, "and even though I've had no musical training as far as writing and composition goes, I brought them to Dylan and he helped put them within the parameters of a band.
"The only thing is," she continued, "what I write doesn't fit within patterns or any particular style or niche. I'm just drawing form everything that has influenced me, and that could be a tango or a samba to soul or disco or rock -- it all just blends together to me."
Lyrically, Kyle said her songs are all based on life experiences.
"I'm a hopeful optimist, but I've been disappointed by people and circumstances," she said. "My goal is really just to help and support those who need it. Hopefully they can get something out of my songs that does that."
The final addition to the band's current lineup, percussionist Kristin Ruyle, wasn't planned but added a whole new texture and dimension to the band's sound. When the band started rehearsing in drummer Michael Back's living room, Kristin was almost always there and eventually Kyle encouraged her to join the rehearsal and play percussion.
"Kristin's playing is like a heartbeat within the band, it's very subtle, but it makes a huge difference," Kyle said.
The Big O Show has played small shows and clubs like Soundpony and The Colony, as well as a number of parties and outdoor events. The band performs at Fassler Hall this Saturday night as part of a four-band bill. July 23 also happens to be Kyle's 30th birthday and she admits to using this as an opportunity to work her way in at Fassler and show people just what here band can do.
The Big O Show will actually play two sets over the course of the evening, opening the show at 7:30pm and returning later. Brad James Band will play at 8:15pm, followed by Ego Culture (featuring Andrea's husband, Chris Kyle) at 9:30pm, Big O Show again at 10:45pm and Whirligig at midnight before wrapping up with a "family jam" at 1am to close the night out. Djindala (AKA "Badass") Drum Ensemble, featuring Michael Back, Kristin Ruyle and Josh Massaad will also appear throughout the evening, helping transition between Brad James Band, Ego Culture, Big O Show and Whirligig and keep the music going in the background instead of experiencing down time between bands.
Overall, it promises to be a great night of music and the a perfect opportunity to see what The Big O Show has to offer as one of the local scene's unique, rising stars. This should only be the beginning as the band continues to evolve and develop its own sound that mixes elements for the Classic Tulsa Sound and jam band elements with Kyle's eclectic taste and a healthy dose of R&B and soul to bring the local scene a breath of fresh air.
More than anything else, though, it's Kyle's enthusiasm and energy that shines throughout the entire band, making The Big O Show about sharing a positive energy as the music. If you miss the band this weekend, you have to look it up soon.
The temperatures aren't cooling off and neither is the local music scene this week. We do get a brief respite from the festival shows this weekend, so use the opportunity to enjoy a show or two and rest up for Free Tulsa next weekend. In the meantime, we've got all the highlights to keep you informed for the next week in Tulsa.
• Thursday, July 21 -- If you want a big show to kick start your weekend, it all depends on your taste in music. The modern rock radio crowd will want to flock to Friction at the Hard Rock Casino for a free show by Alien Ant Farm at 9pm. If you're more into straightforward rock with a Southwestern flavor, Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers headline The Marquee with Sons of Bill opening at 8pm. If you're looking for something more relaxed, check out Cody Brewer's latest project, Grazzhopper, at the Colony at 10pm.
• Friday, July 22 -- If you're looking to throw down with big guitars, start out with Paul Banjaman Band and Jonathan Tyler & The Northern Lights at Cain's Ballroom, then hit Arnie's for a nightcap with Steve Pryor. If you want to dance, check out BASSMEANT at Eclipse of Lift at Electric Circus. The weekend's stealth show, however, is Chuck Mead (of BR-549) doing a solo show at mercury Lounge on Friday evening.
• Saturday, July 23 -- We've already covered The Big O Show at Fassler Hall with Brad James Band, Ego Culture, Whirligig and Djindala, which is the big show of the night. If you really want to get in touch with your soul and blues, though, you won't miss the opportunity to stop in and catch at least part of Andy Frasco at Mercury Lounge. Meanwhile, the older, classic rock set shouldn't overlook "Heroes of Woodstock" at River Spirit Events Center with Jefferson Airplane, Big Brother & the Holding Company and Country Joe McDonald. FreakJuice also plays Downtown Lounge for a great mix of funk, rock and metal to make for one big party.
• Sunday, July 24 -- Could it really be true? Ke$ha finally plays Brady Theater for a sold out show that has been postponed twice, but finally visits Tulsa for a blowout show to cap the weekend.
• Monday, July 25 -- The "Scream The Prayer" Tour arrives at Cain's ballroom with a stacked lineup, including headliners Norma Jean, Sleeping Giant, The Chariot, War of Ages, Texas in July and more... Tickets are $27 at the door and a great last training sprint before taking a couple days off to rest for Free Tulsa next weekend.
URL for this story: http://www.urbantulsa.comhttp://www.urbantulsa.com/gyrobase/Content?oid=oid%3A41147