Tag Archives: Tulsa Oklahoma

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,

 

Jessica

 

 

 


Harry Potter’s World: Renaissance Science, Magic, and Medicine

There’s this exhibit coming to Tulsa…actually, it is already here, I just forgot about it.  Apparently, this exhibit has been making the rounds since 2008.  The Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences Medical Library has a Harry Potter exhibit…why OSU’s Health Sciences Medical Library?  I have not idea.  Apparently, I’ll just have to go check it out.  It runs through February 22nd.  If you’re in Tulsa, and aren’t sure where to go I have an address.

The OSU Center for Health Sciences Medical Library is located at 1111 W 17th Street in Tulsa.  Tulsa’s News on 6 gives more details in the video, here. (Still can’t embed videos…bummer). Now I just need to kick this cold so I can go forth and have fun!

‘Til next time,
Jessica

 

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Art on the Square A.K.A. An Exercise in Self-Control

uticasquareI love art.  It makes me happy.  This weekend I made my annual trip down to the Utica Square shopping center for a birthday brunch with my dear friend and to peruse the local artists’ treasures.  Stonehorse Cafe is our usual haunt for these outings.  Their quiche is absolutely amazing and the ambiance is perfect for a lazy Saturday morning brunch, including mimosas, with your best girl friends. I always love the outdoor shopping at Utica Square even when the weather is less than perfect, but luckily for us, Saturday’s rain and cold temperatures burned away and it turned into a perfect day to wander the shops and booths.

Last year was incredibly cold and rainy, so it wasn’t nearly as fun to shop around.  However, I bundled up and “managed” just fine.  Okay, fine, so I kept saying I was finished looking because I was cold and wet, but then there would be another booth with some beautiful paintings and I’d get sucked back in again.  My perseverance paid off last year and I picked up a gorgeous piece that sits on my mantle now…okay, I picked up a few (five) smaller pieces too, and a couple of gifts for friends.  Did I mention I like art?

shcafe_outside2This year I picked up a few (three) pieces.  A photograph of Cain’s Ballroom.  Which as you may have guessed by my posts about the Alabama Shakes and Seether concerts is probably my favorite venue for live music in Tulsa.  A watercolor titled “Autumn’s Dance”.  I really love this artist’s work.  Last year, my budget was completely shot, but I did pick up a handful of note card sized pieces that I’ve framed to hang as a group.  It was so exciting to see her back again this year, and so hard to choose between “Autumn’s Dance” and “Grotto”.  Something about the colors just spoke to me in “Autumn’s Dance” though, and I couldn’t resist.  The final piece I purchased was not the one I went back to the booth to buy.  I went back for a painting of a man standing in the pouring rain with a red umbrella covering his face that I really loved.  When I went back, the breeze blew over this one, and when I picked it back up…done.  I had to have it.  Do you see all the self control I exercised?  Choosing between “Autumn’s Dance” and “Grotto” and again between red umbrella and the funky musician…I hated to leave the others behind, but…budget…fine, and another art festival in a couple of weeks.

photo (48)Along the way we ran into some very friendly alpacas that were there with a booth that was selling yarn.  We became good friends…well, until he tried to eat my phone.  All good things must come to an end, I guess.  Phone intact, I moved on to the next artist…and the Halloween store, which is actually called Margo’s, and the sell so much more than Halloween stuff.  That was just what grabbed my eye after I rescued my phone from the alpaca.  Oh my gosh, they have the cutest things!  I could have spent an hour just trying on the different hats. (Yes, I am totally that person.)

photo (53)Jenks, Oklahoma also does something similar with Art on Main, and I love walking through downtown Jenks with the artists set up in the street between all the antique shops.  It is a wonderful day that I usually try to spend with my Mom, but a budget nightmare…I usually forget I have a budget. That’s all well and fine until the bill arrives.  Then the cursing of my lack of self-control begins.  I still smile every time I see the art hanging on my wall, though.

Art on Main is in two weeks…how do you think I’ll do?

‘Til next time,

Jessica


Oooh…Pretty Things – A Day At The Philbrook Museum of Art

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I love art.  Really, a lot.  For fun, I even draw and paint a bit.  Although, I’ve sold a few paintings, I become incredibly uninspired when money is on the line.  That part kind of sucks, but at least I’ll always know I did my art for me?  Anyway, not the point.  I got to go look at pretty things.

William-Adolphe Bouguereau's painting The Shep...

William-Adolphe Bouguereau’s painting The Shepherdess is in the collection of the Philbrook Museum. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tulsa is home to several wonderful art museums, and I got to explore the Philbrook Museum of Art recently.  This  gorgeous museum is housed in the former home of oilman Waite Phillips it has 72 rooms and is surrounded by 23 acres.  It sits in the center of Tulsa, near the Tulsa Historical Center, Woodford Park, and the Bookside area.  I make a trip to walk the halls of this beautiful mansion and its grounds at least once a year.  It has long held a special place in my heart.

They have an amazing American and European artwork collection, including pieces by some of my favorite artists.  The Philbrook is where I fell in love with Thomas Moran‘s light.  His depictions of Venice were some of my favorites this trip (maybe because my best friend and I are planning a trip there in the not too distant future), and I return over and over again to see the delicate work of Rodin.  Before my visit to the Louvre, I didn’t think I really liked sculpture all that much…until I saw my first Rodin…how lucky am I that I don’t have to travel to Paris to visit the work of one of my favorite sculptors (as much as I would love to visit Paris again).  The Little Shepherdess by William-Adolphe Bouguereau is another of my favorites at the Philbrook.  This trip I seemed to be drawn to Picasso’s work frequently, which is new for me.  He’s never been a favorite of mine before.  I guess tastes change.

photo (10)Although, the Gilcrease Museum here in Tulsa has a better Native American collection, the Philbrook does house some of my favorite Native American artists as well.  Jerome Tiger, Woody Crumbo and Oscar Howe just to name a couple, and they have a fantastic collection of pottery and bead work.

Their modern and contemporary collection is always fascinating.  One of my favorites, which I couldn’t find for the life of me this trip, is a mixed media piece by Leonardo Drew titled “148”.  I couldn’t tell you why I’m drawn to it, but I am. It is this mass of wood and metal, all chaotic feeling and painted solid black.  I really missed seeing it this last trip!  There is always something fascinating to see there.  The colors and light…modern art may be my favorite…or maybe European…wait…I can’t choose!

One of my favorite things to do this trip was to hang my own drawing on the walls of this fine institution.  They had set up an opportunity for visitors to take a few minutes to sketch a picture and hang the sketchbook on the wall as you pass into the photography exhibit.  It was so much fun to flip through the books and see the homegrown talent of adults and children.  Some of the drawings were amazing!  There was one of the Tulsa skyline that I kind of wanted to take home with me, but I did refrain.  Pencils and erasers of all kinds sat in a container just waiting for the next person to come and…create.  Now I can say, “Look ma!  My art is in a museum!”  Well at least it was that week.

photo (8)American, European, Asian, Antiquities, Native American, African and Modern art all have a home here.  They get in some fantastic special exhibitions as well.  This time I got to explore the Hollywood portraits of George Hurell before It leaves in a few days, and I got to catch the beginning of the Remainder exhibit that features seven up and coming female sculptures.  This doesn’t even include the decorative pieces like the stained glass, fountains or the gardens…oh, the gardens.

photo (12)Although, you can’t take pictures inside the museum, you can certainly take pictures outside.  On a nice day, I could spend all day in the gardens here.  In the summer, they show movies on a screen in the garden.  They have a formal and informal garden.  The formal gardens are part of the original structure while the rest was conceived and added in 2004.  Throughout all of it you find wonderful sculptures tucked away here and there.

Now they’ve added Philbrook Downtown in the Brady District of Downtown Tulsa.  I haven’t gotten a chance to check it out yet, but it is certainly on my list of things to do!   Each month they’ve done a First Friday Art Walk downtown.  I had no idea the studios and galleries housed right in my own backyard!  Now that fall is just around the corner, that is one activity that is quickly moving up my to-do list!

Do you have a favorite piece of art?  A favorite museum?  How do you choose favorites?  (Everything ends up being my “favorite.  It’s like I don’t really know what that means or something.)

http://philbrook.org/about/press-releases/national-study-recognizes-philbrook

‘Til next time,

Jessica


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,

Jessica


Center of the Universe Festival…T-Town is Hot, Hot, Hot!

photo (13)This week I got to experience the first ever Center of the Universe Festival here in Tulsa, OK.  Now how exactly do we get a “center of the universe” moniker?  Well, let me ‘splain it to you, Lucy.  The Center of the Universe is a well worn concrete circle in Tulsa that is an acoustic…anomaly.  When you stand in the center of the….circle, any noise you make is reflected back at a greatly increased volume.  So, imagine dropping your earring and expecting to hear a little ping, but what you really get sounds more like a gong.  Oh yeah, already planning a trip with my niece and nephew, just so I can freak them out.  Why would that freak them out?  I’m not TELLING them what happens when they stand there.  I’ll let them figure it out on their own.  The reason this would work with both of them…and maybe a few select friends who don’t read my blog, (let this be a lesson to them) is because, when you’re standing outside the circle you can’t hear anything.  Well, they can’t hear anything but a really distorted voice.  I’m sure there are some sciency types out there that can explain, but I am not a sound wave expert.

The Center of the Universe is located in the heart of downtown at the top of the Boston Street bridge that spans the railroad tracks between 1st Street and Archer.  Seriously, it isn’t hard to find.  There’s a brick path that leads to the pedestrian bridge that goes over the railroad tracks.  It is accessible from the corner of W. Archer St and N. Boston Ave.  The old Union Train Depot is there, although it is more recognizable now as the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame, just south of the Williams Tower.

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Cain’s Ballroom

The festival took up a little more than two square blocks in downtown and was comprised of two stages, vendors, food trucks, shops, bars…it was a fun time to be had by all.  The main stage was right outside the scene of last week’s escapades, Cain’s Ballroom.  The main stage was located on Main Street, and that’s handy. After a few drinks it is best not to confuse people.  Downtown does that to enough individuals with all their crazy one way streets and such, or it could be a happy coincidence.   Based on this quote from the Festival’s webpage, I’m thinking it is probably not an accident, “Where do you drown a hipster? In the mainstream. Where do you drown your eardrums full of hip music? On Main Street.”  The second stage was just a couple of blocks away at Guthrie Green, so named for Woody Guthrie.

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Guthrie Green

They had arranged it so you were able to purchase VIP Passes, BOK Zone tickets, or you could just print off the free passes…I opted to pay nothing.  It isn’t that I’m cheap, but I couldn’t see the appeal of paying that much money to get that close to the stage, when they had LED screens and a decent view of the stage from the free area.  Damian Kulash of OK Go referred to it as the “fancies” and the “non-fancies”  I was definitely a “non-fancy”, but back to the music…again!  The lineup was fantastic.  There were nearly 70 bands that played over the course of two days.  Mutemath, OK Go, and Neon Trees played on the main stage on Saturday.  These were the bands I was there to see.  Tulsa has some great acts, but quite frankly, it was too dang hot to be walking back and forth between the two stages.  (Walking from a viewing spot to an air conditioned bar?  That was super easy!)  Although many of the bars were only supposed to be open to VIP Pass holders, I think they took pity on everyone, because did I mention it was hot?  The heat index soared to 100.  Personally, I think it felt hotter than that, but once it hits the triple digits does it really matter 100, 101, 105…freaking hot.  The sun was relentless, because although we were downtown, this section of Main Street is flat on the West side.  No protective buildings to provide shade, minuscule trees, pretty much nothing to relieve the heat…well, the scissor lift for the camera crew provided a bit of shade.

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Mutemath

My friend and I arrived about halfway through the Mutemath performance (it didn’t help the temps go down any) grabbed a frosty beverage and got to watch the inflatable crowd surfing…right, just let me show you.  He crowd surfed on an inflated square with lights around the edges.  It was kind of awesome.  It would be the kind of crowd surfing I would enjoy.  Have you ever crowd surfed?  They were fun, energetic and definitely kept the masses engaged despite the sweltering temperatures and soaring humidity.

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OK Go Guest Guitar

Next to take the stage was OK Go, and I have to say this was my favorite performance of the day.  Damian Kulash was engaging and funny.  He talked to the people in the crowd more than most.  There were questions about which section was which, was Tulsa always this hot in the summer, who could play guitar….wait, what?  Yep, he asked who in the “fancies” could play guitar.   Then he pulled a guy from the crowd on stage to play.  There was even a warning that if he was lying he was going to look like an idiot. (I may be paraphrasing a bit, but you get the idea.)  There’s the concert goer, playing guitar with OK Go on the left.  You can tell it’s him because a) he’s not actually a member of the band and b) he’s wearing a bright blue shirt…actually his shirt kind of matches the banner at the side of the stage too, although you’ve probably already figured that out by now.

OK Go

OK Go

Mr. Kulash also came down to the fencing that separated the “fancies” from the “non-fancies”and sang there for a while.  There’s a picture, but all you can see are a bunch of people holding their phones aloft…I’m just not that tall, even standing on a curb.  They also did an entire song with handbells.  It was a really cool concept, but I don’t know that it translated well for an outdoor event.  The sound of the handbells didn’t project well (at least not to us “non-fancies”), and how do you get sound set up for that outside?  Damian Kulash actually took a picture of the crowd and posted it on instagram….what do you think?   I’m told there were 20,000 people at the Center of the Universe Festival, and I think I agree with that.

In between OK Go and Neon Trees we took the opportunity to wander a bit.  There were food trucks to check out, t-shirts to buy and vendors to explore.  Also, my friend had a craving for nachos and cotton candy. (Completely gross combination, in my mind, but whatever floats your boat, my friend.)  Unfortunately for her, although there were a multitude of food trucks offering a plethora of tasty treats, none of those treats included cotton candy, and we forgot where the nachos we saw were located…Does stuff like this ever happen to you?  Maybe it is just us.  Anyway,  to make a already long paragraph shorter, I spent more money than I intended.  I needed a festival t-shirt…yes, I do mean NEED.  Then I checked out a new shop that will be opening downtown, The Bookerie, and they had pendants made from bits of maps.  I found one with Dublin, which is probably tops the list places I’ve been…I had to buy it.

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Guthrie Green Splash Pad

We moseyed on down to Guthrie Green and listened to a brass band there for a little while.  Watched the kids playing catch, and playing in the splash pad.  I did not join the kids in the splash pad, although I did think about it, for a while…quite a while.  The evening was actually really pleasant now that the sun was going down, and I really appreciated the chance to explore a bit.  This space is really cool.  They have Fitness on the Green with Tai Chi, Zumba, Boot Camp, etc. out here.  They have a Sunday Market, Guthrie Green hosts a lot of musical acts and they even show movies out there as well.  Luckily they have a webpage, because when they reopen August 2nd, I’m going to have to come back…like a lot.

Neon Trees took the stage around 9:00 pm, and we were not feeling the crowds anymore.  However, the festival organizers had done a fantastic job by providing a LED screen for those of us who decided to hang back a little.  They were really great.  Hopefully, the crowd was more responsive closer to the stage, because they were working hard to get everyone pumped up and engaged in their show.  I know, I was singing along…I may have been the only one in at least a 20 foot radius, but I was having a great time.  Admittedly, I didn’t stay for the entire set, I wish I could have but there were people to meet, nachos to find…

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Neon Trees…way up there

‘Til Next Time,

Jessica

P.S. I learned how to take panoramic pictures this weekend…could you tell?


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,

Jessica