POSTED ON SEPTEMBER 7, 2011:
The Sound of Fall on the Horizon
All Souls Acoustic Coffeehouse kicks off its fall schedule, Fashion paints Utica red and moreÖ
One of the best parts of the change in season, in my book, at least musically, is the beginning of a new season of concerts in the All Souls Acoustic Coffeehouse series. With concerts roughly once a month with mid-major artists in a setting suited to music lovers, this has become one of my favorite series over the past few years.
Now beginning its 11th season, the series was initiated by Anitra Lavanhar, wife of All Souls Pastor, Marlon Lavanhar. After moving to Tulsa from Boston, she saw a void in the local music scene and called a few personal friends like Chris Smithers and Peter Mulvey to recreate shows similar to the ones that she missed from the East Coast Coffeehouse music circuit. Within a fairly short period of time, Scott Aycock and Richard Higgs, of Folk Salad, became involved as well as a small staff which included Dennis McGilvray.
After the 5th season, Anitra pulled back for personal reasons, but the series has continued on with her blessing and quiet presence in the background. At that point, Julie Watson stepped on board with the team as she was approached after bringing Kevin Welch to Tulsa for a house concert at the Mayo. Since then, the series has continued to evolve, with new twists and additional artists each year.
A quick glance at the list of previous series headliners reveals a roster that ranges from relatively obscure to near legendary including names like Antje Duvekot and Richard Shindell, James McMurtry, Willis Alan Ramsey and David Lindley. Somewhere in the middle, more popular acts like Kevin Welch, Asylum Street Spankers, Todd Snider, The Gourds, Peter Case and Hays Carll pop up, proving just how diverse this series has become.
Although the series started out with a folk-music orientation, it has evolved into more of a singer-songwriter series. And although it's still named the "Acoustic Coffehouse" series, even the acoustic portion is lenient. Although most artists perform solo or duo acoustic sets, on occasion a full band will arrive and fill the stage for an electrified performance; much like Malford Milligan Band did this past spring. Regardless of the format, these have become some of the most engaging shows of the year.
Making its home in Emerson Hall, the fellowship hall of All Souls Unitarian Church (2952 S. Peoria Ave), the Acoustic Coffeehouse series brings roughly one show a month to Tulsa and covers everything from folk to pop to blues and Red Dirt. Although the high ceilings and tile floors could provide a nightmare acoustically, I've never found the sound to be anything but pristine -- a testament to some great engineering and time spent by James Johnson to make sure each show goes off as smoothly and professionally as possible.
In the past, the series has always kicked off with a big name and some firepower to grab people's attention. Jimmy LaFave did the honors in 2009 and Fred Tackett and Paul Barrere (of Little Feat) delivered a sold out show to a relatively spellbound audience in 2010. This year's series starts out with the Paul Thorn Band and although his name may not be as widely known, he'll prove to be just as entertaining as anyone who has graced the All Souls stage.
The son of a preacher, and former professional boxer, eventually became a songwriter and has a gift for storytelling, incorporating a colorful cast of characters and a bit if his own experience. Whether delivering his songs alone with an acoustic guitar, as he did when opening for John Prine at the Brady Theater earlier this year, or plugging in with a full band as he will at All Souls, his blend of blues, pop, soul and country hits a chord with music fans from nearly any genre.
Looking out into the fall, David Wilcox arrives for a solo acoustic show on Friday, October 21. When discussing the series with Julie Watson, she described Wilcox's performances as an inspirational, feel good show, without becoming cheesy. He's also a renowned guitarist, having graced the cover of Acoustic Guitar Magazine on more than one occasion.
Another show that you need to mark on your calendars now is Darrell Scott who is scheduled to play All Souls on Saturday, November 19. After multiple attempts to book Scott in the past, All Souls has finally got him locked in for a show this fall. An amazing songwriter and singer, Scott's other project, Band of Joy (yes, THE Band of Joy -- Robert Plant's backing band with Buddy Miller and Patti Griffin in its ranks) has taken priority and kept him busy over the past few years, but a little downtime will allow him to take his own material out on the road for what promises to be one of the most under-rated shows of the year.
Finally, the fall series wraps up with an All Souls veteran and fan favorite, Jeff and Vida band on Friday, December 9. The duo blends country, bluegrass, rockabilly and a touch of jazz to create something unique and engaging.
Before you look too far out into the future, however, you should make sure and acquaint yourself with the series when it opens this Thursday night, September 8, with Paul Thorn Band. Thorn always puts on an engaging show, elaborating on his songs with colorful tales and anecdotes, making each performance a special evening. In the nearly three years since I was first introduced to Thorn's music, he has become one of my favorite singer/songwriters with his combination of humor and humanity that comes across in each song as well as his banter with the audience.
Tickets for the Paul Thorn show are $20 and prices range from $15 to $20 for each show in the rest of the series, although you can purchase a season ticket for only $65 to save $8 and the hassle of purchasing repeatedly. If you're a music lover and a fan of great songwriters, you'd be doing yourself a favor to go ahead and plan for the entire fall season. Either way, you can get your tickets at the door, which opens at 7pm for 7:30pm shows or online at www.ticketstorm.com.
High Fashion Tunes
If you're more into shopping than sitting, but still enjoy great music, you've got a chance to enjoy both at the same time this Thursday night, Sept. 8, at Utica Square Shopping Center as Miss Jackson's and Shannon Schroeder Fashion and Beauty team up to celebrate "Fashion's Night Out 2011."
Fashion's Night Out (FNO) is part of a world-wide initiative to promote local retail while celebrating the fashion industry. Originating in New York in 2009, FNO's goal is to bring together shoppers and a unique mix of people from the fashion world. Now in the third year of the initiative, FNO come to Tulsa this week.
According to Shannon Schroeder, President of Shannon Schroeder Fashion and Beauty, "This year we're putting Tulsa on the map. From New York to LA, coast to coast, the night is celebrated and we're thrilled to bring the ultimate fashion event to Tulsa this September. With the support of our sponsors, together we'll embark on this unprecedented fashion event."
So, just what all is involved? Fashionistas will be able to meet Jewelry designer Claudia Lobao, fine jewelry designer William Mazza and Project Runway (season 6) contestant and designer Shirin Askari, shop six different trunk shows, vote in the Project MJ fashion design contest and browse vehicles from sponsor Jackie Cooper Imports.
What makes this event rock? The Hero Factor makes another rare reunion appearance on the stage outside of Miss Jackson's to give the night some additional local flair and keep things energetic and entertaining.
On top of it all, 10 percent of the evening's sales, proceeds from the contests and 50 percent of style sessions booked that evening with Shannon Schroeder Fashion and Beauty will benefit the OSU Medical Center Emergency Department in downtown Tulsa. The stars align as fashion, rock and roll and a good cause all come together for one night.
It's another stacked week of shows around Tulsa as we settle into "Indian Summer" and hope for things to cool down. I know you'll be locked into football as the season gets underway, but here are the highlights to get you headed out the door after the big games over the weekend and into next week.
• Thursday, Sept. 8 -- Yes, we've already alerted you to both Paul Thorn Band at All Souls and Hero Factor playing Fashion's Night Out at Utica Square, but that's not all. Just in case the night isn't busy enough already, Malcolm Holcombe makes a special appearance at the Church with Jared Tyler both opening, then accompanying him at 8pm.
• Friday, Sept. 9 -- Sand Springs native Brandon Jenkins returns from Austin to rock Mercury Lounge in an up close personal show while Rude Amps releases its new disc as an opener for Peelander Z and K-Sides at The Marquee. And if you love great guitars, you can't miss an old Tulsa favorite when Gooding returns to The Treehouse for a full night of rock, big guitars and good vibes at the corner of 18th and Boston.
• Saturday, Sept. 10 -- It's a relatively quiet night in town which calls for relaxing and taking in the good vibes. Your best bet on Saturday is to soak up the evening on the patio at Hunt Club with Dante & the Hawks or get your groove on with Sam & the Stylees at Mercury Lounge
That pretty much wraps up the weekend highlights, but modern rock fans can check out 12 Stones at The Marquee on Tuesday, Sept. 13. The week's big event, however, is the return of The Flaming Lips, making up the band's aborted Brady Block Party appearance, with not one, but two shows at Brady Theater on Sept. 13 and 14. If you didn't have a block party ticket to exchange, never fear -- you can still buy tickets for either night, but you'll have to act quickly before they sell out.
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