POSTED ON OCTOBER 26, 2011:
Building up Tulsa
Under the Belfry gives musicians another outlet while building Tulsa's local arts
If you thought Free Tulsa! would come to an end after the weekend passed this year, think again. Amidst all of the hype and bluster that went with the festival, not all of it was merely smoke and mirrors. Even if it wasn't' as big and organized as promised, we still got one heck of a street party out of it and a ton of great music by some of the best artist in Tulsa, as well as Oklahoma City and Norman.
And just in case you've forgotten, there's at least one offshoot from the weekend that's doing its part to help keep the buzz alive for next year and continuing to support local artists. If you follow local music and are active on Facebook, you've undoubtedly seen rumblings already as live footage and music downloads from the festival have begun to appear. What's brewing in the background is something bigger than Free Tulsa! An outside entity with a vision for building Tulsa's arts has taken things into its own hands.
Founders Clint Engles and John Schroeder already had Under The Belfry incubating before Free Tulsa! exploded on the Blue Dome District in late July, albeit with a slightly different vision.
Although the initial plan only called for recording performances at Fassler Hall, Clint Engles shared that once the process got under way "We got a wild hair and thought 'How about doing five stages?'" Once the ball started rolling, he and Schroeder called in more people for their production crew and ultimately recorded all of the weekend's performances at Fassler Hall, the Main Stage, Back Alley Blues, Dwelling Spaces and the Blackwatch Stage.
In case you haven't grasped the scope of this project yet, the end result was over 45 band performances recorded in both audio and high-def video, all of which then had to be edited, mixed, mastered and synched. That's a ton of footage and a massive undertaking, so Schroeder and Engles started polling music fans online via Facebook and emails, secured from the Free Tulsa! mailing list, to find out which artists the fans wanted to see and hear most.
After spending two months editing the footage, Engels and Schroeder launched UndertheBelfry.com and debuted the first few clips of footage, rolling out additional artists in short order. It's an innovative concept in that each artist is afforded one track to give away for free.
"For the bands, it's not just us cutting and creating what we think is good," Engles said. "We bring them in to let them see what we've got; to let them preview and approve anything and everything before it's released. It's a pretty easy transaction, though, after they see what we've got."
Granted, it's a live recording and any errors or blemishes are left intact, but these recordings are far and above any fan shot footage with multi-camera video shoots and audio recorded directly from the mixing boards, then taken in and remixed to balance for the recordings after the fact.
For the artists involved, this is a win-win proposition. Engles and Schroeder provided documentation and contract agreements at the stage in order to be professional and make each band aware of the recording process. After the footage has been mixed down, the artists are then contacted again to preview the footage and give approval before anything is released and the artists get 50 percent from the very first paid download.
Engles and Schroeder are open in admitting this is merely the first stage of Under The Belfry, although what the future holds is yet to be seen. Potentially, it could blossom into a road show, recording artists at Blackwatch, Yellow Dig Studios or elsewhere. It could lead to documenting who the hottest artists in a particular market are at the moment or being called out to document other festivals in a similar manner, or possibly even launching a TV show with the footage that has been compiled.
"What Under The Belfry is, is a production company and we're very focused on music -- currently. Right now, it's all about giving back to the artists and building up Tulsa, because there's so much going on here that's being overlooked.
With Engles overseeing the video production and Schroeder handling the audio, the pair is providing both in one of the best packages to come out of Tulsa in quite some time.
"We're bringing together local (or regional) artists and creators and building a collective of sorts, facilitating what none of us could build on our own," Engles explained.
While the long term future and direction of Under The Belfry is still yet to be seen, the fruits of this summer's labor are just beginning to materialize. A quick visit to Underthebelfry.com will give you an opportunity preview footage and purchase audio from Tyler Hopkins, Desi & Cody, Fiawna Forte, JFJO, Man Hammer, Low Litas and Barling. Additional material from Chrome Pony, Grazzhopper, Annie Ellicott with Amy Cottingham, Oilhouse, Jesse Aycock Band and Apollo will all be rolling out within the next couple of weeks as well. If you're looking for a glimpse of what you missed, want to preview what's hot on the local scene or just want to support your favorite artists, it's more than worth your time to check it out and download a few shows from your favorites.
Just as the fall is finally settling in, the local shows continue to pick up steam. Although we don't have any local CD releases to celebrate this week, Halloween weekend makes sure the calendar is packed. There's too much going on to hit everything, but we've narrowed it down to the highlights to help get you pointed out the door.
• Thursday, Oct. 27 -- Turn Tulsa Pink continues to roll on through the month of October and Thursday night includes Pink-A-Palooza at Cain's Ballroom, with Jana Jae, Rebecca Ungerman, Kelly Lynn Baxter & The Ruskettes, and Branjae & the All Stars. Tickets are only $12 for the 7:15pm show with all proceeds going to charity. Elsewhere, Robotic continues its weekly Dance Party at IDL Ballroom and The Move keeps things jamming at The Colony.
• Friday, Oct. 28 -- There's something for everyone with Stoney LaRue playing Cain's Ballroom with Red Dirt Rangers for the Red Dirt crowd and Pretty Lights headlining Brady Theater for the electronic and dance music audience. If you're looking for something a little more retro, Ray Parker Jr, The Busboys and Otis Day split the bill on the "Ghostbusters Halloween Concert" at River Spirit Event Center. Of course, the indie crowd has a great show to look forward to as well, as Panda Resistance plays Soundpony with And There Stand Empires.
• Saturday, Oct. 29 -- The night tends to get overshadowed by Halloween parties, but that doesn't mean the music isn't flowing. Follow your muse to a more low-key gig with The Big O Show at Club 209, Klondike 5 at The Colony, or Algebra with 1st Verse and Jabee at Soundpony. And don't forget the most fun show of the night: the costume party and concert with Broncho and new breakout duo Sastronaut, at Dwelling Spaces! There's no cover and the party starts at 9pm.
• Sunday, Oct. 30 -- Alpha Rev headlines Cain's Ballroom with Carbon Leaf and Jucifer plays Soundpony with North Side Hot Dogs. Tulsa's overlooked metal scene turns up the volume on Sunday as well with "Octurbofest" featuring Submerged in Dirt, Inoperable, Two Minute Hate, Internecine, The Scarlet Demise and With Smoke They Gave Their Offering.
Finally, Cain's Ballroom wraps up the week and kicks off November with a pair of great shows. Mates of State headlines the Ballroom with Generationals for the indie-pop crowd on Tuesday before Warren Haynes Band holds court on Wednesday, Nov. 2 with a full night of blues inflected jams.
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