Tag Archives: Cain’s Ballroom

Cain’s Ballroom Is Calling My Name Again

You already know I have an…enthusiasm for music, especially of  the live variety. My favorite Tulsa venue is still the historic Cain’s Ballroom ( Alabama Shakes and Seether were the last two shows I saw there.).  Saturday we saw Flogging Molly and Radkey.  I purchased these tickets back in February, as soon as they went on sale, and I’m glad I did because the concert sold out.

I like Cain’s because there’s a sense of immediacy and intimacy in performances at Cain’s that you just don’t get at the larger venues.  My experience has been that there is also an enhanced sense of camaraderie with fellow concert-goers that I haven’t found elsewhere (well, maybe a couple of festivals).

My comrades in music showed up wearing a lot of Flogging Molly t-shirts (of course), Dropkick Murphy shirts, and there were kilts. Surprising, since the band isn’t Scottish, but I’m always happy to see a well-built man in a kilt!


Radkey5 6-6-15

As soon as Radkey’s set began, I was hooked.  Lots of energy, high-intensity, and fun.  The geeky t-shirts and references to Netflix’s Daredevil (which I loved, by the way) made me feel a bit like Captain America in The Avengers, “I understood that reference!”  None of that would have mattered though if it weren’t for the amazing original music which paired well with Flogging Molly’s unique flavor.

My only complaint is that a lot of us had no idea what the name of the band was after their set ended.  I know I asked several people in line for drinks if they knew who the opener was.  They were great, and I definitely wanted to hear more from them.  Thank goodness for Flogging Molly’s own Dave King, who seemed just as excited as the rest of us. He not only gave the band the recognition they were due and the audience was craving, but he also commented that he’d love to play with them again.

Flogging Molly

Flogging Molly5 6-6-15Now, I get pretty excited about my music, I’ll admit.  Losing my voice at a concert isn’t an unexpected event for anyone who has…well, anyone who has ever been to a concert with me.  My husky, nearly non-exsistant voice never stops me from attempting to sing along, shout at fellow concert goers to be heard or talk about the show incessantly for days on end.  Of course, Flogging Molly was no exception.  I’d been listening to their albums for days (possibly weeks) because I was so excited about this show, and this went even beyond my expectations of a great show.  This was jumping around the floor, singing at the top of my lungs, clapping until my hands were sore the next day kind of a show.

They definitely earned a place on the I-will-always-see-them-when-they’re-in-town list.  That list is really short, just two bands…who are nothing alike. Zac Brown Band and Flogging Molly…have I mentioned I have eclectic taste in music?

Who will you always see live when they come to town?

‘Til next time,


P.S. Today, June 9, 2015 Ben Harper is playing there and then, then on June 14th Ben Folds is playing…I’m just saying, I could go watch live music every day this summer and be a happy woman…of course that requires money for tickets.  Boo!

Tulsa Makes News for Music

PhotoWow, I totally meant to post this last week.  Although, now that I think about it, today works better.  On the heels of Saturday’s Imagine Dragons concert, it seems fitting to show off my fine city.  National Geographic wrote an article, Tulsa: Tailor-Made for Music.  I’ve raved about Cain’s Ballroom before, and I’m sure I’ll do it again.  It remains one of my all time favorite places to catch a show.  Tulsan’s love our music, and the first Friday of every month, Downtown Tulsa offers up music, museum, galleries and more in the Brady District to visitors free of charge for First Friday Art Crawl.


The Philbrook has opened up a downtown location, there is a glass blowing studio, galleries, Guthrie Green (named after the famous Woody Guthrie), The Woody Guthrie Center, restaurants, bars, theaters….downtown has gone from a ghost town after 5pm to a vibrant, lively place to be.  Let’s not forget baseball too!  Opening day is quickly approaching it it will be time to catch the Tulsa Drillers in action at ONEOK Field.  (Oh, the glories of spring!)  Now all I need is for some warmer weather to really enjoy strolling around downtown…ah, a margarita on the patio of Elote or the rooftop of El Guapo is calling my name….


‘Til next time,






Back to Cain’s…Eye Empire, Seether and 10 Years

PhotoMy vaguely preppy exterior hides the heart of a rocker, and I got to indulge that side a few nights ago at Cain’s Ballroom.  (Seriously, I love that venue!)  Eye Empire, 10 Years and Seether were performing to a great crowd.  The show didn’t sell out ahead of time, but when we arrived, the line to buy tickets snaked down the block.  Luckily, I already had my tickets. (Sometimes, planning does pay off.)  We were able to enter through the Second Stage entrance at Oklahoma Joe’s barbecue where there was no line.  Don’t you just love being able to do stuff like that.? It kind of makes you feel like a VIP even when you aren’t.  Not a bad way to start the evening, if you ask me.  (That could also have been the guy at the door telling me that they didn’t take fake ids.  I’m 36.  That kind of thing just makes you smile.)

photo (14)The evening started out with Eye Empire taking the stage.  I had no idea who these guys were before last night, but I’ll definitely be following them from now on.  They were the perfect openers to get the crowd pumped up and going.  I’ve mentioned before in posts about Center of the Universe Festival and Rascal Flatts that I really love a performer that works the crowd.  These guys did an awesome job with that.  They realized they were playing to a crowd that probably hadn’t heard their music before and they were out to impress.  Consider me impressed.  The temptation to head bang along to the music was nearly overwhelming.  The lead singer’s does a great job of balancing melodic passes with raging ones.  That juxtaposition of harsh and staccato with smooth and lyrical has always been something I’m drawn to in this genre and Eye Empire pulls it off beautifully.  The songwriting was fantastic, and, in particular, I loved the stuff they said came off their new album.  These guys love what they do and it shows.  Every time they addressed the crowd they spoke about all of us coming together over a shared love of music, and their overall message was one of love and support.  By the end of their set, I’m picking up the words to their new song Beyond the Stars, which is just fan-freaking-tastic, and singing along.  Eye Empire picked up at least two new fans in Tulsa, OK.

photo (17)10 Years followed them, and the contrast was a bit shocking.  When I lived in Chicago, I’d come across a few of their songs and really liked their style, so I was excited to see them live for the first time.  The music was played flawlessly, and I still love their sound.  The lead singer came out with heart shaped sunglasses and a handlebar mustache…he has a unique sense of style.  He seemed disappointed that more people in the crowd weren’t singing along and kept telling us “you can do better”, reminding everyone that they’d been playing in Tulsa since 2006.  Frankly, it was kind of off putting after the unbridled enthusiasm and spirit of Eye Empire.   There were a couple of band members who looked like they were having a good time, but overall the performance came across as stiff and rather gimmicky.  This is a band that I’d rather not see live again.  I’ll still listen to their music, but I’m not paying for tickets to see them.

photo (22)Fortunately, Seether had a Remedy for that when they took the stage.   They rocked.  I wasn’t surprised.  This is my second opportunity to see them live.  The first was a few years ago in Milwaukee at Summerfest. (If you ever get the chance to go to Summerfest, do it.  It is completely worth it.)  I only knew a couple of songs of theirs that first time, but seeing them live made me a fan.  I bought their album on iTunes as soon as I got home, and I’ve listened to everything they’ve put out since.  They have never disappointed me.  Last night I got to hear all my favorites including Country Song, Fake It, and so many more.  They did a ballad version of The Gift that was just amazing.  I sang along with every song, and walked out of Cain’s last night with no real voice to speak of (get it…no voice to speak of?).  In fact, I was still paying for it the next day, but I wouldn’t trade a second of it.  When they performed Broken, the audience took over and was signing the lyrics before Shaun Morgan could even really begin.  In fact, we sang most of the first verse without him.  It was pretty awesome, but I did sort of miss hearing what may be my favorite song not being performed by…well the actual performer.  They closed with Remedy as their encore, which was pretty much perfect.

As always a big shout out to everybody at Cain’s Ballroom.  You guys are awesome.  Rowdy, impatient and often…we’ll just say less than sober people aren’t easy to deal with in small numbers much less crowds, and I know they get on my nerves (I don’t even work at a place where I have to deal with people like that!).  Everybody I’ve ever had contact with at Cain’s has been great.  They’ve all been friendly, helpful and in general happy to be there.  The bartenders, staff, security…they’ve definitely made Cain’s my go-to place to see live music in Tulsa.

So you might have figured out I love music…all kinds of music!  What has been your favorite live performance?  Who should I go see if I get the chance?

‘Til next time,


Shakin’ It with Alabama Shakes at the Cain’s Ballroom

CainsNow, not everyone is able to wrap their heads around the fact that Tulsa, Oklahoma is a rockin’ place.  Okie’s have a history of great music.  Oklahoma natives include The Flaming Lips, Carrie Underwood, Reba McIntyre, Garth Brooks, Vince Gill, Hinder, All-American Rejects, Cross Canadian Ragweed, Blake Shelton, Toby Keith, Joe Diffee, Ronnie Dunn…the list goes on and on.  Tulsa has always been a great place to catch some live music.  Let’s take this last show I attended as an example.  The venue, Cain’s Ballroom, is on the historical registry in Tulsa and has quite a history…here’s a little snippet from their web page…there’s going to be a book too…no seriously.

Built in 1924 by Tulsa entrepreneur Tate Brady, The Cain’s Ballroom has gone from a garage, a dime-a-dance joint and a dancing academy until it became what is known by artists and patrons alike as one of the top performance venues in the world today.

The highlight of the ballroom is a historic maple, spring loaded dance floor designed in a “log cabin” or concentric square pattern. Lighting the dance floor is a four-foot neon star and a silver disco ball. The walls are decorated with oversized photographs of various musicians who played Cain’s, including Bob Wills, Johnnie Lee Wills, Ernest Tubb, Hank Williams, Tex Ritter, Kay Starr and Tennessee Ernie Ford. Between the portraits are black fiddle-shaped fixtures illuminated by a single red bulb.

Bob Wills was born into a family of fiddlers where he learned to play the fiddle and mandolin. As a young man, Wills performed at house dances, medicine shows and on the radio. On New Year’s Night 1935, he made his debut at Cain’s and the venue soon became known as “The Home of Bob Wills.”

As The Home of Bob Wills and The Texas Playboys from 1935 to 1942, the ballroom was especially significant for popularizing a new sound of western music called western swing, a form of country and western that combined jazz, hillbilly, boogie, blues, big band swing, rhumba, mariachi and jitterbug music. Weekly dances, a midnight radio show and a daily noon-hour program were played by Bob Wills during what are remembered as his “glory years.”

Bob Wills is remembered as “The King of Western Swing.” He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1978, into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999 and received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007 for his significant contributions to American music from the 1930s through the 1960s. During his career, Wills wrote and recorded at least 470 songs, including “Take Me Back to Tulsa” and “San Antonio Rose,” and he influenced such artists as Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard and Asleep at the Wheel.

CainsBallroomCain’s is known throughout the music industry as not only “The Home of Bob Wills,” but also as the “Carnegie Hall of Western Swing.”

Cain’s has also been listed as a top music venue in the United States. In fact, Travel CNN lists Cain’s in their 10 Fabulous U.S. Music Venues.

Cain’s Ballroom, Tulsa, Oklahoma

In what has to be one of the most incongruous pairings of band and venue, the Sex Pistols played the historic Cain’s Ballroom in Tulsa in 1978 on one of only seven stops on their U.S. tour.

To this day, a framed piece of drywall Sid Vicious ostensibly punched a hole through commemorates the historic gig at the even more historic venue.

The Pistols were just passing through, but in generations past, the hallowed hall was home turf for Wills and His Texas Playboys, who broadcast their performances on national radio here on KVOO from 1934 to 1942 and would routinely pack more than 1,000 dancers onto the supposedly spring-loaded maple dance floor.

Originally intended to be a garage when it was built in 1924, the building instead became Cain’s Dance Academy in 1930 — its neon sign still advertises “ballroom dancing” — and finally a music venue in 1976.

Others who have filled the floor at the Cain’s include everyone from Ernest Tubb, Tex Ritter, and Tennessee Ernie Ford to The Strokes, Metallica and Elvis Costello.

Still going strong, the Cain’s manages to be both a landmark in the National Register of Historic Places and a pioneering live venue where you’re as likely to see the Josh Abbott Band and the National Fiddler Hall of Fame Induction as The Polyphonic Spree and dubstep deejay Excision.

However, as fascinating as I’m sure this history lesson has been, what you really want to know about is the show, right? Right! Alabama Shakes was the main event at Cain’s Ballroom. Their opening acts were Hurray for the Riff Raff  and Fly Golden Eagle.  I know a lot of people like to skip opening acts and just show up for the main event, but I kind of like them. Getting a sneak peek at up and comers is always fun for me.  Then again, I just love music, especially live.  Rock, Country, Broadway, Symphony…doesn’t really matter as long as it is done well, music makes me happy, and the opening acts were definitely well done.

Hurray for the Riff Raff  has a folksy kind of country sort of sound.  I’m a sucker for the string section, and Hurray for the Riff Raff  has a good fiddle player and someone plucking the bass as well.  A lot of the songs they played carried a message, about violence in their New Orleans neighborhood, the death of Treyvon Martin were just two of them that stayed with me long after the house lights came up.  Their songwriting digs deep.  The message is delivered with a nice mellow sound, and if I was looking to kick back and relax on the porch with some sweet tea, it would be perfect.  After a burger and sweet potato fries at McNellie’s…it was not waking me up so much.  The Bushmill’s Irish Honey whiskey probably only increased the overall mellowness, but that was not a bad thing.

Fly Golden Eagle was up next and their sound was much more energetic, and although space was at a premium on the floor, the music was something you wanted to move to. The crowd around me had started to get a bit restless and I couldn’t hear all the lyrics, but what I did catch had a philosophical bent to it.  Greek myths were mentioned, and overall it came across as smart, intellectual songwriting.  If Hurray for the Riff Raff conjured images of front porch rocking and sweet tea drinking,  Fly Golden Eagle did the same for college.  Fun, smart, a little ragged around the edges, but none of it mattered because you’re doing exactly what you want to do.  The complete and total worn out, holey look of the lead singer’s shirt was a bit distracting, and only intensified the frat house feel….well maybe the frat house the morning after the party anyway.  I really hope it was on purpose and not just a really really old shirt.  When his hipster type black framed glasses flew off as he head banged his way across the stage, I chuckled.

At this point my patience with the jostling crowd was wearing thing in spots, and the temperatures were starting to rise.  (When you’re Oklahoma, you become very concerned with the state of the air conditioning in mid-July when there’s a sold out show happening.  It can go from a fun time to getting your goose cooked, pretty quickly.) Now it was time to take a quick walk before squeezing a bit closer to the stage, fluffing up the ole patience, love and human kindness to get ready.  Alabama Shakes was up next.

Alabama Shakes

Not bad, huh? I think I’m getting better at blindly taking pictures with my phone held above my head in crowded places…well maybe not better but more accepting of the result anyway.  As annoying as the press of humanity had been before, once the music started washing over us, I kind of loved them all.  Everybody was happy and singing along.  There is something particularly…awesome about the crowd singing along out of tune with their favorite songs as the band plays on stage.  You should have heard the crowd sing along to Hold On.  I always forget my phone takes video when I’m at a concert.  I get so wrapped up in the moment, and the  music, and the movement. That is one bit I wish I could share, the sound of the crowd belting out the chorus.  I’m grinning from ear to ear singing along with every song…most of the time I even know the words!

One of my favorite things is to watch the performers faces during those songs where everybody is singing along with them.  That moment of awe that their music has touched that many people…again.  I imagine it never gets old. Doesn’t it just make a show so much better when you know they’re up on stage doing what they love?

About halfway through the show, my friend and I decide we need some air.  We take another walk around the floor, out to where you can still smell the barbecue from Oklahoma Joe’s BBQ .  Although they had stopped serving their mouth watering pulled pork a while back, the bar is still open and the air is a bit cooler.  We each run into old friends, acquaintances, and even co-workers.  We watch couples dance and laugh and make fools of themselves.  The look on the security guard’s face as he walks past some of the antics may have been one of my favorite parts of the evening, aside from the music….oh, God the music.

You learn something about people from the music the love, don’t you?  Not just what they listen to but the stuff that lights them up when it comes on the radio.  Music is just one of those things that speaks to the soul.  It gets in your blood and pushes its way through the mind and the body…wow, now who’s waxing philosophical.  Anyway, speaking of music there’s a new music festival in town this weekend that I think I’m going  to try to check out, Center of the Universe Festival.

What’s one of your favorite places to see live musics?  Do you have a “don’t miss” festival?

‘Til next time,