the scene – hortonfest.

Two Saturday nights ago, on January 28, to be exact,  found me traveling yet again to good ol’ Downtown Tulsa, to check out Hortonfest 2012 at Fassler Hall.
From what I understand, this year’s Hortonfest got quite a bit of publicity, but just in case you didn’t hear about it, Hortonfest was a night of fantastic local music to celebrate the birthday of Brian Horton. Well who the heck is Brian Horton, you might ask…
Brian is a Tulsan who has singlehandedly done more for the local music scene in the last few years than just about anyone else. He helped Paul Benjaman get to SXSW 2010 with a CD in hand, has bankrolled multiple production and merchandising efforts for quite a few local bands, and even started a not-for-profit record label, Horton Records. In 2010 Horton released the New Tulsa Sound CD, a compilation of Tulsa bands that’s a great example of the talent and diversity of our local music scene. If you don’t own it – you should. Buy it NOW.
So to celebrate Brian’s birthday, a night of New Tulsa Sound music was on the calendar for January 28th. I trekked up to Fassler Hall and after moseying up to the bar for my big tall glass of water, I found Dylan Layton, guitarist/bassist extraordinaire, at the back of the room. By the sound board. Would you expect anything different from a musician?
Actually Dylan was in the back because Fassler was packed – I’ll bet it was part “usual crowd,” part “friends of the band” and the rest “people wanting to party with Brian Horton.” In any event, there were tons of people everywhere. I missed Desi & Cody & Friends, which I am sad about, but I’ve bought one of their EPs so hopefully that makes up for something…
The first band I saw take the stage was a reunion of Dustin and Jesse’s Higher Education – a group of musicians that used to play every week at McNellie’s. This was the first time I’d seen them – and I’m so sorry about that! Dustin Pittsley and Jesse Aycock were on guitar, Skin Tight Dave White on bass, Rocky Frisco on keys, Dylan Aycock and Andrew Bones sharing drum duty… oh and let’s see, Seth Lee Jones  sat in on guitar, and there were 2 (2!) fiddle players at one point – Jocelyn Hughes and Sharla Pember.
Whew! And YES it was all that and a bag of chips.
And just when we thought it couldn’t get any better, Paul Benjaman took the stage. With him was Jesse Aycock and Lloyd Price also on guitar, and Seth Lee Jones sat in for a while too, Bo Wayne Hallford on bass,  Andrew Bones on drums, Scott Mason with percussion duty,  Jeff Newsome on keys, and Jocelyn Hughes on the fiddle. Whoa! That Paul Benjaman boy can play guitar alright. He’s RED DIRT for sure. He’s also really fun to watch – he always looks like he’s having a fantastic time. It’s great to see people being so joyous doing what they love and you definitely get that feeling when watching Paul play.
Let’s see, there was also a giant HORTONFEST birthday cake (complete with Motorhead-style lettering, nice touch guys), Horton Records merch for sale – I got a nice light grey tee – and the usual mix of interesting folks, a huge beer selection, and of course hearty food choices that go great with beer…
It finally became a little too crowded for me and I left for the evening… I k now I missed the end of Paul  Benjaman’s set and I’m sad about this – but fortunately I can catch him every Sunday night at The Colony. Maybe next time I have a Monday off…
Happy Birthday Brian, and thanks for everything you do for the Tulsa Music Scene – here’s to many more years of the New Tulsa Sound.

the scene.

I know you’ll be surprised by this – last Saturday night I actually Went Out.
This is surprising for several reasons:
– I don’t go out much
-I’ve been sick and it was looking like I might never actually get better
Well, I shouldn’t say I don’t go out much. I do go out a lot – to work, to the store, to the other store, to that one store just to buy eggs, to the mailbox, to the doctor’s office…
I have some very dear, awesome friends who are nice enough to let me know when something ultra cool is happening around town and say “you should come!”  This is pretty nice – for all the times I haven’t come, they are still sweet enough to ask.
The Brad James Band played Saturday night, at the Colony in MidTown. My friend Dylan plays bass with Brad, and had let me know about the show. Brad’s not actually on Facebook but had his lovely wife Anne sent me a message on FB that I should show up and “bring my boogie.”
By 8:30 p.m. I had come up with at least 5 reasons why I would decide at the last minute to bail. I then watched a movie. But when it finished, I decided OK what the hell. I should go up there and pay my $5 cover to help out and say hello, watch a song or two and then go home. I wasn’t exactly feeling healthy enough to “bring my boogie” but at least I’d show up. So I rolled in around 11 and stayed till 1. Which is pretty good, for me. Now when the people you know at the bar are all on the stage it can be a bit lonely in the audience (Anne was sitting in the back but I can’t see from back there!). But that’s OK – I just go to listen to the music, and I’m not going to let something like sitting alone stop me from going to see good music, damnit.
I know I’ve mentioned Brad James here on my blog before – he is one of the best Oklahoma musicians around. I’ve known him since around 1993 when he was playing with Medicine Show. He has made more than one Tulsan happy by starting up this band and playing live music again every so often.
Saturday night he had quite a few people crammed up on the tiny stage at The Colony – a drummer, a percussionist, 2 keyboardists, and a bass player. And let me tell you, they sounded GOOD.
Brad and company played a lot of old songs from the MS days and plenty of fantastic covers. At one point he introduced a song as one having been written by his old friend Stephen Bruton. The song, “To Find My Love” is one that Brad has played since I’ve known him, it’s one of my favorites – but until Saturday I never knew it was written by Stephen Bruton.
And you ask, why would you care, Ace? Because until his passing in (I believe) 2009, Stephen Bruton was a member of one of my super-favorite-ever bands, The Resentments out of Austin, TX. I am so impressed that Brad was friends with Stephen! Although I’m not surprised. I think there are a few musical connections between Tulsa and Austin and it just seems so natural that I’ve been drawn to discover and get to know an amazing group of talented, creative, wonderful people.
If you live in the Tulsa area, I hope you’ll come out to see them next time they play – you’ll have a wonderful time seeing some fantastic music, and I’ll have someone to sit with.

yes, i went to texas. again.

I went to Austin twice in the last 30 days. I would have tried for 3 if I’d had the time and the money…

This time around, I got a few other things done in Texas as well as visiting the ATX. I found out right before I left that I had bronchitis, and spent most of the trip feeling pretty lousy and coughing ALL. THE. TIME. (I’m so sorry for anyone who tried to hold a conversation with me during this time). It was rather unpleasant. But I made the best of it.
My first stop was Dallas, where I spent Friday, Saturday, and Sunday in a seminar. 3 12-hour days. But it was all good. I met some really great people, had some amazing experiences, and learned a lot.
I had to be back in Dallas on Tuesday evening, for a final session, but had all that free time, so… I headed down to Austin. I couldn’t resist.I spent some time drinking coffee and sending emails, just getting the feel of the place. I ate at a few cool restaurants, met an awesome new friend, and heard some more phenomenal live music. As I was standing in the Saxon Pub for the second time in 3 weeks, watching Matt the Electrician, I had the distinct feeling that I was home. It was so damn cool. And as an extra bonus, I shook Scrappy Jud Newcomb’s hand.
I miss you Austin – I will be back. Soon.
headed from dfw to atx
feelin poorly, but havin fun
feelin poorly, but havin fun

music review – the donnas

I used to like punk. A lot. My favorite band was The Damned, I had a mohawk, and David Dove and I spent way too much time at Fender’s Grand Ballroom in Long Beach, CA watching bands like X, TSOL and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Yep, I was the weirdest looking kid in my AP honors classes. Social Distortion, Agent Orange, and fIREHOSE played free lunch-time concerts at the Cal State campuses. Those were the days.
So, in these “later years” when I come across a band that has that same kind of energy, and that I can still tolerate, I get pretty happy about it. That’s what happened when I stumbled across “Spend The Night” by The Donnas a few years ago. It’s not really a punk record, but it’s pretty rough. It’s just right.

According to Wikipedia, The Donnas have been around since about 1993 and started out in Palo Alto, CA. They’re an all-girl band that are heavily influenced by bands like the Ramones, The Runaways, and AC/DC. “Spend the Night” was their fifth release under the name The Donnas, in 2002.
I like music with a lot of layers, subtexts, multiple meanings and a whole range of emotion – but there’s something to be said for music that’s so simple and straightforward you know exactly what you’re dealing with right from the start. That’s what this album is – it’s simple, has a clear message, and as a bonus, packs one heck of a punch.
Here are some of my favorite tracks – you can figure out the meaning of each and every one of them from the title alone, but I’ve added my own short interpretation:

It’s On the Rocks – I am awesome, and you are so totally not cool enough for me.

Take It Off – I’ve been drankin’ and yer lookin’ pretty good. Gimme.

Who Invited You – You are a total loser, please leave my bitchin’ party.

All Messed Up – (my favorite) – Aw damnit. I like you.

Too Bad About Your Girl – You’re girlfriend’s about to be really sorry because you’re going home with me. (Favorite line: “I gotta make you mine but we’re runnin out of time / she’s got you guarded like the Guggenheim / it’s all that I can take / let’s make a jailbreak / and we’ll be doin time in Anaheim”)

Not the One – You? Yeah, not so much.

Please Don’t Tease – Gimme.

Take Me to the Backseat – Just Gimme.

I play songs from this record a lot when I run, and also when I’m in a bad mood. Yes sure, I try to stay centered, always coming back around to the present moment and putting out good intentions… but every so often you’ve got to get a little uppity, blow off some steam and just say F**KIT. This is the perfect soundtrack for it. Girl Power! And everyone else sucks. These chicks can shred, and they’ll get right up in your face.
Good role models, don’t you think?


down to the atx.

So last Friday, I drove down to Austin, TX to check it out. I’d only been there once before, maybe around 1996, and didn’t see much of it, except for some bookstores and a magazine vendor. It took me a while to make it back, and I’m sorry I waited so long to do it.

I hadn’t gotten much sleep the night before, so after driving down there, I was dead dog tired. But after an excellent dinner and some jet-fuel coffee, we headed down to Gruene (a little further south from Austin) to see Bob Schneider play at historic Gruene Hall, the oldest dance hall in Texas. I think I was the only one not wearing cowboy boots – ooops. I had a great seat though, and saw some great music – Bob and his band can, as they put it, rock the house. He’s an Austin native, a prolific songwriter, and was a helluva lot of fun to see. That was followed by some late-nite breakfast at 24 Diner in Austin and then – o thank goodness – bed.

Saturday I checked out Renegade Austin – a big craft show with some of the best hand-made artists around. I bought a few prints, a t-shirt (can’t wait to wear it grocery shopping in Tulsa on a Sunday), and a few other little bits o’ stuff. My friends Christine and Thom from Tulsa had a booth there, so it was nice to have some hometown peeps around. That night a bunch of us went out to eat on South Congress – a hip little part of town with interesting restaurants and shops.

On Sunday, I did a little “internal sightseeing” – I got some real clarity on a writing project I’m working on, so I sat and wrote and had coffee. Yes, maybe I should have gone and looked at more tourist-y stuff, but I don’t think that’s what this particular trip was about. Sometimes you’ve got to go with the inspiration whenever and however it shows up.

Sunday night was probably the best part of the entire trip. It was definitely some of the very best live music I’ve ever seen. I went to the Saxon Pub and saw The Resentments – a curious group of songwriters who never rehearse, but get together and play every Sunday. 3 guitarists, a bassist, and a drummer – the caliber of musicians sitting on that stage was unbelievable. They’re all veterans of the Austin music scene and between them, probably know every musician worth anything in the U.S. They had several guests sit in with them, and played a few songs that not everyone knew, but apparently that’s the norm when seeing the Resentments.

Each of them has a different musical style, but it all comes together so very, very smoothly. They take turns playing each other’s songs – guitarist Jeff Plankenhorn plays a kick-ass slide, guitarist Miles Zuniga has a wicked sense of humor, guitarist Scrappy Jud Newcomb is quite the sultry, lanky guy and turns crooning into high art, and bassist Bruce Hughes brings it all. He has a very fluid style, is interesting to watch, and is a clever and adept songwriter. If I had to name his style, I’d call it Buddhist Funk. The music is centered, but you can’t sit still while listening to it.

As I was soaking it all in, I knew that I was watching something really, really special. What an amazing group of people. What beautiful sounds they made. Those few hours of musical greatness were totally worth the 15 hours spent in the car.

So thanks, Austin, for the Red Zinger tea, your hospitality, your bitchin’ self, your openness and willingness to take a chance on me. It was nice; I feel like I’ve met your mom. Hope we can do it again sometime.
gruene hall

gruene hall
gruene hall
purchased at Renegade Austin craft show!