POSTED ON SEPTEMBER 26, 2012:
Rocking the Midway
Tulsa State Fair music lineup offers something for everyone
The kids go back to school, Labor Day passes and football season arrives, but nothing really quite signals the arrival of fall like the State Fair. Late September is here and the temperatures have finally started to break, making it truly pleasant to spend the evenings outdoors again.
Of course, part of most people's fall tradition is attending the fair and taking part in the excess: fried food, midway rides, carnival games and all that goes with it. Amidst all the corn dogs and funnel cakes, music lovers can always find a respite and break with a plethora of free concerts that cover all the bases: from pop and rock to country with both local artists and nationally touring acts.
If a trip (or three) to the fair is part of your annual routine, you might want to plan around the entertainment and seeing a few of your favorite acts while you're weaving your way through the carnies and fair food. There are almost as many bands to choose from as there are food vendors, though, so it just might call for an extra trip or two to catch everyone you want to see, especially considering there are three stages and thirty-four acts featured over the course of the eleven nights of the fair.
ELI YOUNG BAND
There's no need to feel overwhelmed, though, because we've got it broken down for you, so you just have to decide who it is you want to see.
Starting Light and Local
The Bud Light stage always features a cross-section of local bands and this year is no exception. What always proves to be most interesting here is the cross-section of bands that are chosen, which always crosses from country to rock and hits a few of our more well known names and I few that even I've never heard of, giving some newcomers a chance for some fresh exposure.
The week kicks off with Rick Jawnsun on Thursday night, Sept. 27, and one of Tulsa's most popular acts, We The Ghost on Friday, Sept. 28, with both bands performing at 7pm and 9pm. Saturday, Sept. 29 sees Sean Adair take the stage for three sets at 5pm, 7pm and 9pm, and Beacon Drive is Sunday's featured act, with sets at 3pm, 5pm and 7pm.
The weeknights go back to the standard format with performances at 7pm and 9pm, featuring Ben Smith on Monday, October 1, followed by Morgan Ganem and Sownds on Tuesday, Drive on Wednesday, Lower 40 on Thursday, and Chase Stites on Friday, Oct. 5. Pop fans will want to make an effort to see Stites at this show as it will be his last performance in Tulsa before relocating to Florida in October.
The weekend wraps up with Purple Traders playing the Bud Light Tent on Saturday, Oct. 6 at 5pm, 7pm and 9pm before Brandon Clark Band wraps everything up on Sunday, Oct. 7 with sets at 3pm, 5pm and 7pm.
Step It Up
The International Beer Garden offers a wider selection of beers, including a variety of imports and a different selection of music as well, with a stage sponsored by the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. Once again, the week kicks off with 7pm and 9pm performances by Shawna Russell and Aaron Newman, respectively, on Thursday and Friday, Sept. 27 and 28. Dante & the Hawks perform at 5pm, 7pm and 9pm on Saturday, Sept. 29, and Mickey & Gordon play at 3pm, 5pm and 7pm on Sunday, Sept. 30.
Once we get back into the week night schedule, its back to 7pm and 9pm shows with Kristen Stehr performing on Monday night, The Full Moon Dueling Piano Show featuring Tom Basler on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings, and a couple of the best shows of the week for this stage with Stephen Speaks covering the pop angle on Thursday night and Mary Cogan bringing the country on Friday.
The weekend wraps up with Starr Fisher performing at 5pm, 7pm and 9pm on Saturday, Oct. 6, and Something Steel bringing an island vibe to the International Beer Garden to close things out on Sunday, Oct. 7 at 3pm, 5pm and 7pm.
Of course, the main attraction is the Oklahoma Stage, located at the Northwest end of the Midway, just outside of the Expo Square Pavilion. If you're looking for the headliners, this is the place to be -- and just like in years past, the fair has continued to raise the bar with an improved lineup that focuses more on the current up and comers than nostalgia acts.
The week kicks off with Z104.5, The Edge, sponsoring the show with the Homegroan Concert, featuring three bands from this year's local compilation with Kick Tree playing at 7pm, For The Wolf at 8pm and FM Pilots at 9pm. Friday night's headliner is rising Texas country act Randy Houser, beginning at 8pm. Vertical Horizon brings the weekend's retro touch, reaching back with its '90s pop and alt rock hits on Saturday night, Sept. 29 at 8pm.
The week's biggest show is set for Sunday night, Sept. 30 as Eli Young Band returns for a third year at the Fair. Two years ago, EYB sold out their show closing out the PRCA Rodeo then followed up with a free show on the Oklahoma Stage last year that had the crowd overflowing into the midway. Armed with yet another #1 hit with "Even If It Breaks Your Heart," you can rest assured the crowd will be even bigger this year so make sure to arrive early if you want to grab a seat for the band's 8pm show on the Oklahoma Stage.
Monday night brings Christian rock to the stage with Jeremy Camp, followed by the contemporary country of Easton Corbin on Tuesday, pop on Wednesday night with Hot Chelle Rae and the Alt-rock of Theory of a Deadman on Thursday night. Keith Sweat brings some R&B and soul to the main stage on Friday night and Breathe Carolina will draw a younger pop-rock crowd again on Saturday, Oct. 6. All shows during the week are scheduled to begin at 8pm.
Finally, Tulsa's own Fabulous Mid Life Crisis Band wraps up the festivities with 2pm and 5pm shows on Sunday, Oct. 7 as the Fair comes to a close, with the stage both opening and closing with local talent.
If all of that isn't enough to satisfy your music fix, you've got a couple more shows to check out if you're ready to pay for them. As in years past, the PCRA Rodeo takes over the Expo Pavilion on Friday and Saturday night with the rodeo competitions capped off by evening concerts by rising country acts. This year's PRCA headliners are Jake Owens on Friday, Oct. 5 and Randy Rogers Band on Saturday, Oct. 6. Tickets are $30 for each night, which includes fair admission, with the rodeo beginning at 7pm and the concerts wrapping up the night, following the competition.
All other concerts at the Bud Light Tailgate Tent, International Beer Garden and Oklahoma Stage are free with Fair admission, so make sure and check out our local talent and take advantage of the nightly headliners while you're out and indulging yourself again this year.
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