POSTED ON AUGUST 24, 2011:
Downtown Throw Down
"Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting" with two Battle of the Bands showdowns
Summer is nearing its end and temperatures are finally edging downward -- a little. That doesn't mean things are cooling off for Tulsa's music scene, however. Just after we get a bit of a breather, it's back to the races. And just in case your calendar isn't packed enough, you can compress it even more this Saturday with not one, but two different band competitions.
If you like blues, you're covered; likewise if you're more of a pop and rock fan. And if you try to keep track of the new bands and up and comers, this just may be your night.
Challenged & Blue
Now in its eighth year, the Blues Society of Tulsa's annual Blues Challenge is not only the more intense competition of the night, it may very well be the most intense challenge of the year in Tulsa. Here, blues artists face off in both the solo/duo and band categories to win the society's endorsement to enter the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tenn.
Just in case you're wondering, don't think our boys don't show up when representing Tulsa. In 2008, Little Joe McClerran went on to win the International Blues Challenge in the solo/duo category, opening doors for him to tour not only throughout the US, but also to play in Europe, Central America and the Middle East. Last year's local winner in the band category, Dustin Pittsley Band, didn't proceed to the finals, but did win the Beale Street Blues King Award, as voted on by the local Memphis club owners who were hosting the competitions.
This year's local challenge is being held again at VFW Post 577 (1109 E 6th Street) with doors opening at 1:30pm this Saturday, Aug. 27. Performances for the solo/duo category will begin at 2pm with Rattlesnake Blake, The Loaded Dice, Tresa Davis, James Groves and Jay Lesikar facing off to take the local title and make their bid for the trip to Memphis.
The band competition is then scheduled to begin at 4:30pm and is expected to go past midnight as the stacked lineup of contestants includes: Pat Moss & The Juke Joint Revival, Sara D & the Damned Souls, Curly "No Shoes" Jr. Band, Backroad Blues Band, Till Metro, The Home Brewed Band, Pipefull of Blues Band, Sunday Moan, Bryan Wallace Band, BlueSoul, Visionary, Mississippi Fever, IIIrd Degree, Wanda Watson Band, Black Kat Benders and The Billy Earl Band. Not only will the winning artists move on to the International Blues Challenge, but they will also win a full day of recording at The Church Studio, allowing them to either spend the day laying down basic tracks for a full CD or focus on completing a song or two from start to finish: whatever the artist prefers.
In speaking with Blues Society president, Bill Martin, I found out that this year's challenge actually stands out as different from years past in that half of the 16 competing bands include female members; the first solo female competitor in Tresa Davis; and the youngest band to compete in the challenge with Till Metro's members ranging from ages 13-16.
That trio of firsts, when combined with a challenge that features everything from solo and duo artists and seven-piece bands down to power trios, promises a wide variety of styles and approaches over the course of the day, proving that our current blues movement is anything but stagnant.
Admission is free and it's an all-ages event, but Martin did point out that the event will have food and drink vendors on site and a number of drawings for door prize packages, which will range from CDs and shirts to an overnight stay at Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. Proceeds from food and tickets for the drawings, which will be $1 each, will go towards helping send the winning contestant to Memphis for the international competition.
This is an important event because it sends our local artists on to the Memphis competition and because over the years, since the Tulsa organization was founded, it has grown from seven members to roughly 300 as it continues to follow its mission to promote Blues music in Northeast Oklahoma.
That mission is accomplished with a number of programs, ranging from the Blues Challenge to the Blues in Education program (which provides harmonicas and instruction in the schools), to a bi-monthly newsletter and a "Best Self Produced CD" competition in the fall (which sees the winner's recording sent on the International Blues Foundation in Memphis and other societies worldwide). You can find out more about the society and details about this weekend's event at bluessocietyoftulsa.com.
Back to Battle
Also on Saturday evening, Joe Momma's Pizza is hosting a "Back to School: Battle of the Bands" and fundraiser for Youth Services of Tulsa. Admission is free, with the fundraiser portion of the event coming from the fan vote. Three judges are already in place with the fourth vote coming from the audience. You can cast your vote for your favorite band by donating school supplies or purchasing tickets for $1 each.
Joe Momma's held a similar event in 2007 which also benefitted the same organization said event coordinator Allison Broyles. The business has always had a community focus as witnessed by its sponsorship of a number of local events as well as its weekly Book Club for Kids, which is held every Saturday at 11:30am.
"We really wanted to do something to give back to the community while also promoting local artists," said Blake Ewing, owner of Joe Momma's. "We, along with our co-sponsors are primarily concerned with making Tulsa a better place to live, and by combining our efforts to host an event like this, we think we're shining a light on a couple of really great things. Youth Services of Tulsa does so much for the city. We're glad to help in any way we can. And if we can promote some young, local talent at the same time, then that's perfect."
Since this event is geared toward the back to school crowd, it will include ten bands, all from the younger demographic. Each band will get a ten minute set with judging done by a panel of three and the fan vote.
This year's competing bands are: Maybe April, Zero Vector, The Aviators, Corey White, Paradise Avenue, 7th & Boulder, PilloTalk, Bloomfield, The Loaded Dice (following their appearance at the Blues Challenge earlier in the day), and J.T. Velvick. Overall, it will make for a great peek at Tulsa's up and coming talent, give you a clue who to keep an eye out for, and provide an interesting diversity of styles ranging from pop and rock to blues.
The event begins at 7pm. The end of the evening will feature a performance by Ben Kilgore while the final votes are tallied. The overall winner will receive a full day's recording at The Church Studio as well as air time on KMYZ-FM Z104.5's Homegrown show. Prize packages from local businesses and sponsors will also be awarded to the top three bands.
The competition and performances will be held outside, just in front of Joe Momma's, with Elgin closed between 1st and 2nd streets for the event. Joe Momma's will be serving drinks and personal pizzas and it's an all-ages event, making it a great night to bring the family out and get the kids hooked on local music at an early age.
Once again, we've got a full calendar, even as summer comes to an unofficial end with school back in session. That doesn't mean you don't need to get out and blow off some steam, however, so we've got the highlights to get you out the door and headed in the right direction.
• Thursday, August 25 -- Big Gigantic is the big show at Cain's Ballroom, with Gramatik opening the show for the electronic and dance rock crowd. Meanwhile, Red Dirt and country fans can catch Reckless Kelly at Midnight Rodeo and Grady Nichols caters to smooth jazz fans at Utica Square's outdoor stage.
• Friday, August 26 -- Back Porch Mary rocks the corner of 18th and Boston as the band returns for another rowdy night at Mercury Lounge to start the weekend. Also on Friday, Karma to Burn celebrates its CD release at Downtown Lounge with Woebegone and Bound opening the show. And if you're looking to relax, check out Higher Education (with Jesse Aycock, Dustin Pittsley and guests) on the Hunt Club patio.
• Saturday, August 27 -- Fiawna Forte performs a free show at Riverwalk Crossing Amphitheater and The Big O Show debuts at Club 209 while Forever Blowing Bubbles and Fossils of Ancient Robots play Soundpony and RadioRadio appears at Main Street Tavern in Broken Arrow.
• Sunday, August 28 -- Wrap up your weekend with Steve Hamm and Mike Bennett at the Jazz Hall of Fame or get your indie rock on with Midnight Ghost Train and The Way It Was at Soundpony or settle in with an evening of cool jams with Paul Benjaman & Friends at The Colony to get yourself ready for the new week.
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