Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Current-Aug. 2008 Feature Story

Dusk Til Dawn Blues Fest Flourishes in Memory of Minner

By Regan Henson

“A man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for?” Robert Browning wrote those famous words in his poem, Andrea del Sarto, in 1855. You might think a quotation from a Victorian era poet to be an odd way to begin a story about that oh-so American musical genre known as the blues, but when you consider just how far-reaching the legacy of Rentiesville native D.C. Minner stretches, you might find Browning’s well-known quote to be quite appropriate. D.C. Minner knew what so many other musicians and music lovers know, that the blues can heal, the blues can teach, the blues can provide a window into the soul of a single person and into society as a whole. The blues can cure the blues, and the best way, some would say the only way, to experience the blues is by seeing and hearing it played live. D.C. Minner knew this as well, and this Labor Day weekend, like every Labor Day weekend since 1991, blues fans will come together in tiny Rentiesville for the festival that Minner founded, the Dusk Til Dawn Blues Festival. This year’s festival will be a tribute to Minner, who died in May, and will feature many of the bands playing songs he wrote and covered in celebration of the man who put Rentiesville on the blues map.

Born in 1935, D.C. Minner was raised by his grandmother, Lura Drennan, and his not-quite traditional up-bringing would serve to plant the seeds for his lifelong love of music and the blues. You see, Grandma Drennan ran the Cozy Corner, a rollicking juke joint and whiskey palace where local musicians had been gathering since the Prohibition-era to sample the outlawed sauce and play the blues. In those days electricity scarce in little Rentiesville, and the musicians played acoustic sets for raucous crowds that were searching for a little diversion in a place that had yet to recover from the devastations of the Great Depression. It was in this humble setting that D.C. Minner would plot a course that would take him on a lifelong journey that would allow him to influence and be influenced by some of the greatest musicians in American history. And it would bring him together with the two great loves of his life.

After serving as a medic in the Korean War, D.C. Minner worked out of Oklahoma City, where he made a living with his bass guitar backing up a veritable who’s who of blues greats, including Freddie King and Eddie Floyd. Throughout the 50s and 60s Minner worked the area playing bass with Larry Johnson and the New Breed, a band that backed up such artists as Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, and O.V. Wright. Minner was doing exactly what he had always known he would do: making a living playing the blues.

In time Minner found his way to California, along the way changing his instrument of choice from bass to blues guitar. His love affair with the blues in full swing, Minner bounced around different cities on the west coast, playing and learning, learning and teaching, until one day he met the second great love of his life. By the 70s, Minner had moved north to Berkeley, where friends introduced him to a young bass player named Selby. Their attraction was mutual and immediate, leading them to form a partnership in music and life. The two began playing together as Blues On The Move, D.C. on guitar and Selby on bass, touring non-stop for the next 12 years.

By 1989 D.C. and Selby, now married, had followed that long road back to tiny Rentiesville and the place where it all started all those years before, the Cozy Corner. After more than a decade on the road, it might seem that the Minners would be ready to settle down and take a nice long rest. But there was still work to do. First came renovating his grandma’s old place and renaming it The Down Home Blues Club. This provided D.C. and Selby a place to play, and listen to others play, and gave blues fans from all over this part of the state a real honest to goodness blues club, where they could hear the real thing played by people who knew how to play it. The club was a success, not in a way that would make D.C. a rich man, at least not financially, but in a way that let him realize that the thing he was doing was appreciated, and maybe even needed. In 1991 the Minners took it a step further, and The Dusk Til Dawn Music Festival was born.

Through the years D.C. continued to touch people with his music. In addition to his club and annual festival, he and Selby brought the Blues in the Schools project, which had originated in Memphis, to Oklahoma’s schools. The weeklong program provides students with alternative learning exercises using blues music as a teaching device. While offering the program to a variety of schools, D.C. seemed to take a special interest in the at-risk and alternative school programs, with students who were having trouble functioning in traditional classroom environments. Their work with the program earned D.C. and Selby numerous awards of recognition, including a W.C. Handy award and the Keeping the Blues Alive Award from the Blues Foundation. But the awards can’t speak for the lives touched by the man. His legacy lives on, not only in the festival, or by the fact that his name is permanently etched in both the Oklahoma Jazz and Oklahoma Music Halls of Fame, but in the memories of the students he has touched, or perhaps those fans of the blues, who were looking for something to do one Oklahoma night, and found themselves in a club in tiny Rentiesville, listening to the music played by folks who knew how to play it.

And that legacy will indeed live on this Labor Day at the 18th Dusk Til Dawn Music Festival, which will be a celebration of the life and work of D.C. The event will feature local and regional artists, including Guitar Shorty, Johnny Rawls, Tony Matthews and another member of the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame, Tulsa’s own Wanda Watson, among many others. With artists performing on three stages over three nights, the festival is sure to be a nice Labor Day Weekend alternative to overcrowded lakes, and, being in Rentiesville, which is about a 15 minute drive south of Muskogee, it is also close enough that the skyrocketing gas prices shouldn’t be so hard to handle.

The Dusk Til Dawn Blues Festival will take place August 29-31 in beautiful Rentiesville, located south of Muskogee on US 69 (take either the Checotah-Rentiesville or Oktaha-Rentiesville exit). Once in Rentiesville, go east on Honey Springs Road two miles until you get to D.C. Minner Street and you’ve found it. Tickets are $15 per day, and kids get in free. The show starts daily at 5pm and music will be playing, you guessed it, from dusk ‘til dawn. For additional information go online to

The Current-July 2008 Feature Story 2

The Black Crowes Fly In To Currentland

By Regan Henson

I doubt anyone would hold it against you if you admitted that you thought The Black Crowes had disbanded a couple of decades ago. Why would you think any different? It’s not like you ever hear any new music from the band on the radio. And MTV? Come on. If I were a wagering man, I would bet a dollar that the last Black Crowes song you heard on the radio (Regular radio, not satellite. That’s cheating) was something off of their 1990 debut album, Shake Your Money Maker. I’ll even take it a step further and guess the actual song. Was it “Hard to Handle?” That’ll be a dollar.

Truth is, The Black Crowes are doing just fine, thank you. Sure they’ve had their hard times. Declining record sales, constant personnel shifts, the four year “hiatus”, Kate Hudson, but like most great bands, the Crowes have always managed to brush aside all obstacles and focus on the music and, most of all, their incredible live shows. This summer fans in Currentland will have two chances to see the band strut its stuff when The Black Crowes Euphoria or Bust tour rolls into Tulsa to rock the legendary Cain’s Ballroom in Tulsa on July 23 and then on August 14 when they make their way to Fayetteville to play the Arkansas Music Pavillion. You didn’t really think they’d broken up, did you?

The Black Crowes are currently on tour in support of their latest album, Warpaint, which was released earlier this year. It’s the band’s first album in seven years, and the first on their own Silver Arrow Records label. It’s essentially a reunion album for founding members, and siblings, Chris and Rich Robinson, but it’s also a rebirth of sorts for a band that has fought to maintain its independence over the course of its almost twenty year recording career. The album has received critical praise, aside from the two star review Maxim writer David Peisner gave it. Trouble is, Peisner wrote his review without ever having heard the album. Perhaps Peisner thought the band had disbanded a couple of decades ago, too. Maxim has since issued an apology, and The Black Crowes have continued to play sold out shows to fans who could care less what some magazine writer has to say anyway.

If you thought the Crowes had disbanded, well, you should have been paying more attention, because the band’s show at the Cain’s Ballroom on July 23 is sold out. If you really, really want to go, just head down to 423 N. Main in Tulsa and maybe you can find a scalper. You’ll probably pay more than the $45 face value, but I bet a dollar the Crowes would say it’s worth it. Or you can wait until August 14 and make the short trip to Fayetteville where they’ll play the Arkansas Music Pavillion. Tickets range from $40 to $85 and can be purchased by calling (877)837-6616 or online at

The Current-July 2008 Feature Story 1

All-American Rejects and 120 other Acts Diversify Tulsa

By Regan Henson

Not long ago, maybe sometime around the end of the last century, music fans from around these parts who wanted to experience a true music festival featuring national and regional acts were forced to drive at least four hours to Dallas or maybe Kansas City to hang out with the hippies at Lollapalooza or the metal-heads at Ozzfest. If country is more your speed, well, Nashville has an annual festival, and it’s only about three day’s ride horseback to the east. My, things have sure changed in Currentland.

Fresh off last month’s Country Fever and just a couple weeks after Rocklahoma, fans lucky enough to live right here in northeast Oklahoma can welcome one more festival, and this one might just beat all the rest. Smack in the heart of downtown Tulsa, the seventh annual Diversafest Music Conference and Festival kicks off at the end of the month, and if you’ve been waiting for a crowd that features less in the way of ten gallons hats or eighties mullets, then this is the one for you. With well over 120 acts covering every musical genre imaginable, you’re bound to find something you love, even if you are into topping your mullet with a ten gallon hat, which, come to think of it, is not too far-fetched.

As you may have guessed, Diversafest is all about diversity, from the acts onstage to the people in the crowd. This year’s festival will continue a trend started last year when Oklahoma City’s Flaming Lips headlined by bringing another internationally known local band when Stillwater’s own All-American Rejects back to their home state. Getting AAR (as the cool kids call the band) to come to D-Fest (as the even cooler kids call the festival) was a coup of sorts for organizers, as the band has recently cancelled its dates on the Warped Tour to continue work on the follow-up to 2005’s platinum-selling album, Move Along. But the boys from AAR will be playing a handful of dates with Bon Jovi and will be back in their home state, to the good fortune of D-Fest crowds.

Formed in 2001 by Tyson Ritter and Nick Wheeler, the Stillwater band quickly gained a reputation among local and regional fans for their energetic stage show and upbeat sound.
Following their self-released EP, Same Girl, New Songs, and a brief tour of the mid-west, the band was signed to Doghouse Records which released their self-titled debut album in 2002. With respectable, if not earth-shattering, record sales, the band was well on its way to stardom, mostly on the strength of the ultra-catchy single, “Swing, Swing.” Following the release of the album, the band toured relentlessly, leaving little time for recording, which led some fans and critics to believe the band was little more than a one hit wonder. But the doubters were soon proved wrong.

The summer of 2005 saw the release of the band’s follow-up, Move Along, which brought them critical praise and their strongest record sales to date, with over two million copies sold and a trio of high charting singles, including “Dirty Little Secret,” “It Ends Tonight” and the title track, which went on to win “Best Group Video” at the 2006 MTV Music Awards. All three songs received heavy rotation on modern rock radio, further cementing their place as superstars in rock music.

Now, as they work on the next step in their already wildly successful career, the boys in AAR will be stepping out of the studio and onto the main stage at D-Fest to share their love of music and performing for fans who’ve been following their rise from wide-eyed teens dreaming of rock stardom to true modern rock heavy-hitters. But, as I mentioned previously, AAR is only one of 120+, and there is plenty more for other tastes.

If I were to tell you that a trip to D-Fest would allow you the opportunity to see one of the “20 Greatest Live Acts in World,” would that be something you’d be interested in? Well, in 2003, that is exactly the distinction that Rolling Stone Magazine bestowed upon The Roots. This Philadelphia hip-hop, soul, jazz, experimental rap group has been wowing crowds for the better part of twenty years. In addition to releasing eight critically acclaimed albums, this band has performed onstage with the Dave Mathews Band and as the backing band for Jay-Z and appeared in a number of films and DVDs, including Dave Chappelle’s Block Party, in which they performed as a group and as the backing band for many of the other acts. This is definitely one band you don’t want to miss.

If you’re more into the jam band thing, then you’ll want to check out the Disco Biscuits. Another Philly band, these guys play a style that blends prog-rock/fusion with a jam band sensibility. Their unique sound has won them a rabid fan base at various shows and festivals, including Lollapalooza and Bonnaroo.

But if balls-out hard rock is all you care to hear, well, you’ll still be in the right place when veteran rockers Clutch hit the stage. These Maryland natives have been making ears bleed since the early nineties. Although their sound has evolved some over the years, they still know how to bring the rock. And if that’s not enough for you, Helmet, Paramore, Phantom Planet, Zappa Plays Zappa and Ghostland Observatory are among the bands scheduled to appear. As the name suggests, Diversafest truly has something for everyone.

In addition to the festival, a two day music conference will be held featuring a tradeshow, music clinics, music panels and much more. The Diversafest Music Conference and Festival will take place July 25-26 at Tulsa’s historic Blue Dome District and Crowne Plaza Hotel. Conference hours are from 11am to 6:30pm both days and festival hours are 4pm to 2am both days. Two day festival tickets are $33.50 advance or $45 walk-up. Conference badges, which allow access to both days’ festival and conference, are $100 advance or $150 walk-up. To purchase tickets or for ticket information, go to or

The Current-June 2008 Feature Story 2

Osage Casino Welcomes the Power of the Ocean

By Regan Henson

It’s a good bet that a good number of us born and raised here in land locked Currentland have never seen the ocean. Well, if you happen to belong to the aforementioned group, the Osage Million Dollar Elm Casino in Tulsa is the place to be this June if you want to cross that particular experience off your “things to do before I die” list. No, I’m not talking about playing some game of chance in the hopes of winning a free cruise; you can see the real Ocean, with a capital O. Billy Ocean. That’s right, Billy Ocean.

Yep folks, the Osage Million Dollar Elm Casino is bringing that R&B pop icon of the 80s who brought us such classics as “Caribbean Queen,” “Suddenly,” and the masterpiece, “Get Outta My Dreams (Get Into My Car).” It’s also a good bet that anyone over the age of 30 who read the previous sentence is now being tortured by a perverse medley of those three hits. Here’s another one for you: remember the theme song from the movie Jewel of the Nile?

When the going gets tough

The tough get going

When the going gets rough

The tough get rough

Hey Hey Hey

Yep, that was Billy Ocean too. The embarrassing thing is I didn’t even have to look up the lyrics to that song. That oughta add some flavor to your medley. Probably some Caribbean flavor, considering Trinidad and Tobago native Billy Ocean is a member of the prestigious Caribbean Hall of Fame, alongside other legends including Grace Jones, Eddy Grant and Shaggy.

But nostalgia and your own personal bucket list don’t have to be the only reasons to check out Billy Ocean. In the past few years, Ocean has enjoyed a career resurgence of sorts, having begun experimenting with reggae and other world music sounds and reinventing some of his hits for a new generation of fans. Having recently performed for mostly European audiences, he is out to re-conquer America, and those of us here in Currentland are gonna be lucky enough to experience Billy Ocean for ourselves. By the way, Billy Ocean is a stage name, so you might remember that before you cross off “see the ocean” from your list, since technically he’s not a real ocean. But I won’t tell if you won’t.

Billy Ocean will be performing at the Osage Million Dollar Elm Casino on Saturday, June 14 at 7pm. Tickets start at $30 for this 21 and over show and can be purchased by calling (918)699-7667 or by visiting the Million Dollar Elm box office. The casino is located on West 36th Street in Tulsa, Oklahoma, 3 miles west of US Highway 75.

The Current-June 2008 Feature Story 1

Rocklahoma Returns with Michaels, Queensryche

By Regan Henson

It’s that time of year again. Temperatures and gasoline prices are rising, a presidential election of historic significance is quickly approaching, the war in Iraq is far from over and metal heads all across the world don’t even notice because the one event that unites them all is just around the corner. Rocklahoma is almost here.

Billed as the only festival of its kind in the world, Rocklahoma has quickly grown into much more than just another Woodstock wannabe. In its second year, the festival, which takes place at the Catch the Fever grounds north of Pryor, Rocklahoma has now added a fifth day of music and entertainment to what was originally conceived as a three day event. Last year, the Thursday night lineup was added just weeks before the event, and this year it’s set to begin on Wednesday.

“The fifth day was added because of the magnitude of the new things we’re bringing,” said Dave Giencke, Director of Operations of the Pryor Creek Music Festival.

Among the new things being featured is the Rock N’ Roll Fantasy Band Camp, which will allow up to 120 participants to meet and play with ten counselors from their favorite bands, including Mark Slaughter of the group Slaughter and the drummer from AC/DC. Fantasy camp goers will be fed breakfast on Wednesday morning before being given the once in a lifetime chance to jam and learn from the counselors. At the end of the day, each counselor will form a band hand-picked from the participants and they will choose a song to play between sets during that night’s show in front of the Rocklahoma audience.

“Participants will get the true Rocklahoma experience,” said Giencke, “not just as fans, but of actually playing on stage.”

The entire Wednesday night lineup had not been announced as of this printing, except for the headliner, Ratt, who returns for the second year of the event. But even when Ratt is finished rocking the house the opening night festivities will continue with a midnight screening of Heavy Metal Baghdad on the huge jumbotron screens surrounding the stage.

The documentary follows the Iraqi heavy metal band Acrassicauda from the fall of Sadam Hussein’s regime through 2006 as the band struggled to find the freedom to perform and create the music they love as the country toppled around them. The film was an official selection of the Berlin Film Festival, South By Southwest, and the Toronto Film Festival, and the Rocklahoma screening will be one of only a handful in the United States.

The Wednesday events, like those on Thursday, will only be open to those festival goers who purchase three day passes. But the Thursday night lineup alone will be worth the purchase price, with performances by Jetboy, House of Lords, Vain, Enuf Znuf, LA Guns, Dokken, former Skid Row frontman Sebastian Back and Bret Michaels of Poison and Rock of Love.

For those who only wish to spend a single day rocking out to hair bands, Friday night will serve as the opening option, and what an option it is with performances by XYZ, Armored Saint, Kingdome Come, Living Colour, Night Ranger, Lita Ford in her first performance in 15 years, Extreme and Triumph, which will feature a reunion of its original lineup performing on stage together for the first time in over two decades.

The party continues Saturday as the lineup includes performances by Pretty Boy Floyd, Every Mother’s Nightmare, Tora Tora, Black and Blue, Trixter, Lynch Mob, Kix, Warrant featuring Jani Lane and Cinderella.

Returning festival goers will remember that last year Twisted Sister closed the show in style with one of only two North American performances that wowed the audience. Well, Dee Snider might not be back this year, but Giencke and company may have even one-upped themselves with a Sunday lineup that includes performances by Axe, Zebra, UFO, Tesla and a one of a kind performance by Queensryche as they perform their classic Operation: Mindcrime album in its entirety, along with other hits from their 20-year plus career, in a theatrical stage show. It will be the only performance of its kind by the band this year as a celebration of the 20 year anniversary of the release of the album.

In addition to the bands playing the main stage, 60 more bands will be playing on two side stages, courtesy of Retrospect Records and Tri-Label Group. Rocklahoma begins this year on Wednesday, July 9 and continues through Sunday, July 13. One day general admission passes are $55 and three day general admission passes are $120. Three day VIP passes are $350 and all tickets can be purchased either online at or by calling (866)310-2288. The Catch the Fever festival grounds are located four miles north of Pryor just off highway 69.

The Current-May 2008 Feature Story

Music and Mayhem Return to Eufaula this May

By Regan Henson

Country Fever Fest, eat your heart out. There is a new kid on the block, only a year old, who is ready to steal some of your thunder. The gorgeous Eufaula Cove Amphitheater, courtesy of Levelland Productions, is set to take her rightful place next to the higher profile venue in Pryor as a destination for music lovers from all across this state and abroad seeking a place to wind up, wind down, let loose and let it all hang out as Cross Canadian Ragweed kicks off summer with their second annual Music and Mayhem Festival on the beautiful shore of Lake Eufaula this Memorial Day weekend.

Fans can expect a glorious leap forward from last year’s inaugural festival, which was somewhat marred by inclement weather, with a more Okie-centered lineup that features, along with headliners Cross Canadian Ragweed, regional superstars Jason Boland and the Stragglers and returning favorite Stoney Larue. There will be no regional favoritism, however, with a bill that also features Texas artists Wade Bowen and Cody Shaw and the Rhythm Boys opening the show.

For most Oklahomans, Cross Canadian Ragweed and Jason Boland and the Stragglers would be more than enough of an enticement to make the trip to Eufaula, but for those who need the promise of an “event”, Music and Mayhem promises to offer everything one can possibly ask for in a true music festival. The amphitheater overlooks the bay on Lake Eufaula, offering concert goers glimpses of those frolicking on the lake during the day and the stars shimmering on the waters after the sun goes down, as they enjoy the sounds of some of today’s best country and red-dirt artists. It’s that fun-loving attitude that brought the guys from Cross Canadian Ragweed to Lake Eufaula in the first place.

“They just wanted to do something at the lake,” said Chuck Thomson of Levelland Productions. The Lake Eufaula Amphitheater was a perfect fit. “We sold 7,500 tickets last year, and the weather was atrocious.” And while he expects large numbers of festival goers to be from out of state, notably north Texas, where Boland and CCR are huge draws, Thomson expects the majority of the crowd to be from right here in Oklahoma, and especially Eufaula.

“There has been a huge response from the community,” Thomson said, “The people I’ve talked to say they’re really glad we’re coming back.”

In addition to the incredible lineup, festival attendees will also be treated to the myriad of vendors they would expect at such an event. Darren Kilpatrick, owner of Hamlin’s Restaurant in Muskogee, will be bringing a 20 foot smoker armed with brisket, ribs, and other barbecue favorites, and the Grape Ranch of Okemah will have the Frozen Rose trailer on site and standing by for anyone suffering from the kind of heat that can only be treated with frozen mixed drinks.
But what a music festival ultimately boils down to is the music, and Chuck Thomson, who has cut his teeth at the legendary Wormy Dog Saloon in Stillwater, knows which bands to book to whip the crowd into a frenzy. These are the types of bands that can make a crowd 7,500 strong ignore the rain and stand up and scream and cheer for the music they love. Tom Barlow, The Current’s own Editor-in-Chief, Publisher, and all-around music guru, was instrumental in launching the initial festival a year ago, and he was witness to the show that Thomson put together.

“Last year, by the time CCR hit the stage, the crowd was already in the stratosphere,” Barlow said, “When they started playing, it (crowd noise) was like they were already at the end of their set.”

It’s the promise of that kind of energy that will bring returning music lovers to the event, and with the addition of Jason Boland and the Stragglers to this year’s festival, it looks to be a good bet that last year’s audience will be surpassed in numbers. And there is plenty of room for more; the Lake Eufaula Cove Amphitheater can handle crowds of up to 13,000. It’s an all ages show, so don’t be afraid to bring the whole family, set up your lawn chairs, slather up with sunscreen and enjoy these musical acts that are showing the world just how talented and unique our Oklahoma bands are. Nice weather would be a blessing, but rain or shine, the show will go on.

Cross Canadian Ragweed’s 2nd Annual Music and Mayhem Festival will be held on Sunday May 25. The music will start around 3pm and keep going until either the bands or the crowd give out. The Lake Eufaula Cove Amphitheater is located at the Lake Eufaula cove in Eufaula. General admission tickets are $25 for advance or $30 the day of the show. General admission VIP tickets are $72. You can buy your tickets at area Reasor’s or by going online to Feature Story-Apr. 2008

Bobby McFerrin and Friends Wow the Walton

By Regan Henson

There’s a good chance you’ll hate me after reading this. Not because of the subject matter, but because you’re likely to have a certain song from the late eighties stuck in your head for the foreseeable future. You remember the time, Reagan was giving way to Bush Sr., the Cold War was nearing its end, the US economy was sliding toward recession, sex scandals were still, um, scandalous, and Bobby McFerrin was advising us all to “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” There, I said it. Now I dare you not to hum it silently until you face the very brink of insanity.

The cool thing about that song is that at the time of its release it carried with it a message of such simple optimism that it was embraced by a nation and world so desperately in need of the message. The fact that it can still be embraced proves that it is timeless in spirit and theme. The song shot to number one on the Billboard Singles chart back in 1988, earning McFerrin a Grammy for Best New Song and becoming his only hit. It also gained McFerrin entry into countless unofficial one-hit-wonder lists. The thing about those lists, however, is they never allow you to gain the true measure of the talent of the artists.

Bobby McFerrin is NOT a pop artist. Remember that kid on American Idol from a couple of seasons ago, the one who wowed everyone with his beat-box skills? That kid couldn’t hold Bobby’s jock. Stand Bobby in front of the Idol judges a capella and watch Simon’s head explode. Ever hear some singer described as having his voice as his instrument? Bobby McFerrin’s voice is the whole band.

But McFerrin’s immense talent stretches well beyond his own seemingly limitless vocal talents. He is a regular guest conductor for, among others, the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, The New York Philharmonic, The London Philharmonic, and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, for which he has served as Creative Chair.

McFerrin’s recordings have sold an astounding 20 million copies worldwide, and he has performed and recorded with such musical luminaries as Herbie Hancock, Al Jarreau, Yo Yo Ma, Quincy Jones and Bela Fleck and the Flecktones.

This April you can find Bobby McFerrin in Fayetteville where he’ll share the stage with Chick Corea, another frequent collaborator, to bring his unique musical talents for what promises to be an unforgettable night. One hit wonder? Hardly.

Bobby McFerrin, Chick Corea and Jack DeJohnette will be playing the Baum Walker Hall at the Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville, AR on Sunday, April 13 at 7pm. Tickets range from $28 to $45 and can be purchased by calling the box office at (479)443-5600. Visit Bobby online at

The Current-Apr. 2008 Feature Story

Bad to the Bikelahoma Bone

By Regan Henson

Let’s say your plan is to establish the greatest destination for motorcycle enthusiasts in the months between Daytona Bike Week and the Sturgis Bike Rally. It’s not exactly like bikers have nothing to do between March and August, with bike weeks in Arizona, Myrtle Beach, Gettysburg, and Kentucky. You need to come up with something special. You need sexy chicks, like the burlesque girls of Flaunt and AngieLand. You need death defying spectacles, like the Globe of Death and Speed for Hire. You need a tractor pull. You need a centralized location where bike enthusiasts from across the nation can gather. But most of all, you need to book some music acts that speak the language and live the lifestyle. “Let’s give a Bikelahoma welcome to…The Osmonds!” Doesn’t really have a ring to it, does it?

Jesse James Dupree knows the lifestyle. Since the early days of touring with his band, Jackyl, Dupree rides his bike behind, in front of, and sometimes beside the tour bus instead of kicking back inside reading Hit Parader. “Roman (Glick, Jackyl’s bassist) and I ride about 20,000 miles a year on tour,” Dupree says, “We started out pulling our bikes on a trailer behind the bus, but every night before we left a town we’d look at each other and say, ‘You gonna (wimp) out?’”. Sounds like you have your headliner.

Bikelahoma is, like Country Fever Fest and Rocklahoma, gaining ground on similarly themed events from across the country. But unlike those other festivals, Bikelahoma isn’t all about the music. It’s a celebration of a way of life that embraces freedom and that uniquely American call of the open road. It’s a celebration of the outlaw spirit. And the music? Well, if you’re playing for an outlaw crowd, you probably should have a little bit of outlaw in you. It might help if you’re named Jesse James.

Jackyl made a name for themselves long before Jesse James Dupree took his chainsaw to a desk on the set of The Tom Green Show. The release of their self-titled debut album in 1992 kept rock radio busy in the early nineties with hits like “When Will it Rain?” “Down on Me” and “The Lumberjack,” which introduced the world to Dupree’s famous chainsaw solo. Since then Jackyl has released eight more albums and toured relentlessly. Rock radio may have changed, but Dupree and Jackyl, in true outlaw spirit, have remained defiantly on their own path. It is this path that led them, by way of their long relationship with the organizers of the Sturgis Bike Rally, where Jackyl plays a yearly Thursday night show at the Full Throttle Saloon, to Bikelahoma in Pryor.

But why Bikelahoma, an event that is only in its second year? According to Dupree, it’s all about authenticity. “They (organizers) make sure their events have the utmost integrity,” he says, “They acknowledge the connection with the bike enthusiast.” Plus, with the long period between the bigger rallies, it gives enthusiasts something else to look forward to. “Instead of waiting until August (for Sturgis), get your ass to Bikelahoma,” Dupree adds.

It won’t be Jackyl’s first visit to the Catch the Fever festival grounds. “We played Rocklahoma last year, and we turned it into Jackylahoma,” Dupree says. But Bikelahoma is something different. It’s a truer reflection of the music and attitude that Dupree and Jackyl live by. When asked if he and his band expect to make Bikelahoma their own yearly destination, Dupree is succinct. “Just try and stop us,” he says.

But if Jackyl’s the icing, the cake itself is pretty darn good itself, as some of the entertainment and activities offered up at the two day event will include the aforementioned Flaunt Girls Burlesque Show and AngieLand. And strap yourselves in for the Wall of Death, Speed for Hire, Globe of Death and, of course, the old stand-by, the tractor pull.

And Jackyl won’t be hogging the stage the whole time. National and regional acts to suit all tastes will be performing throughout the event. Maybe you are in the mood for an eighties hair band and can’t wait for Rocklahoma. How do Bang Tango and Dirty Penny suit you? Outlaw country? Try The Kentucky Headhunters or Jackson Taylor. Red Dirt? How about the Mike McClure Band, the Red Dirt Rangers, Randy Crouch or South 40? Or perhaps you’re only into balls to the wall rock n’ roll. The boys from local favorites Pedal Point should be able to hold you over just fine until Jesse James Dupree leads Jackyl onto the stage. Bikelahoma has something for all tastes, and, even if you don’t take to the open road on two wheels, don’t let that stop you from joining in the fun. All you need is a freewheeling attitude and Bikelahoma will do the rest. And Jesse James Dupree has a message for Jackyl fans coming to Bikelahoma. “Tell em to get ready to kick em if they got em and get ready to be shot out of a cannon.” Jackyl is coming to the party.

Bikelahoma will take place April 18 and 19 at the Catch the Fever festival grounds four miles north of Pryor on 69 Highway and ¼ mile east on EW 45 Rd. Tickets are available for $30 for a one day pass and $50 for a two day pass and can be purchased at the Catch the Fever office at 114 S. Mill St. Pryor, OK 74361 or by calling (918)824-2288 or toll free at (866)310-2288. There is free camping and parking and the show will happen, rain or shine.

The Current-Mar. 2008 Feature Story 2

Whiskey Jim’s a Winner in Tahlequah

By Regan Henson

Tahlequah’s newest and biggest live music venue celebrated its grand opening in style when country hit-maker Tracy Lawrence played to a standing room only crowd at Whiskey Jim’s on Feb. 15. The sold out show featured local band Oklahoma Heartland opening and Lawrence, whose hits include early nineties classics like “Sticks and Stones” and recent chart topper “Find Out Who Your Friends Are,” provided a memorable night of music and good times for local music fans.

Follow that up with a two night stand by up and coming local Red Dirt act Hazzard, who hosted the release party for their debut CD, Choices, the following weekend, and Whiskey Jim’s seems to be starting out in the right direction in establishing a long and lasting relationship with music fans all around Currentland.

Whiskey Jim’s owner and Tahlequah native Jason Jolliff said that when speaking with Lawrence after the grand opening show, the singer, who has played venues all over the world, told him that Whiskey Jim’s is one of the coolest places he’s ever played. Such praise would make any club owner proud, especially when it comes from a national star on the grand opening night of a club that the owner built, literally, from the ground up.

“It’s humbling,” Jolliff said in describing his feelings after the grand opening, “There’s not a nail in this whole building that me or my dad didn’t have a hand in.” The pair led the work last summer and fall, often changing shirts four or five times a day. “We sweated our asses off,” Jolliff said.

The hard work that Jolliff and his father put in, which included everything from pouring the slab to raising the roof, all came to fruition when the doors opened and Jolliff still sounds like he’s just waking up from a dream.

“I’m not a musician,” he said, “But I just love music and wanted to have a place to see live music.” A navy veteran, Jolliff is currently planning a Whiskey Jim’s party to help celebrate the return of local service men and women from their tours of duty. The venue, which has a capacity of 980 patrons, has a special upper level VIP section that is reserved for the musicians, and for veterans.

“I’m not sure when everyone is getting home,” Jolliff said, “But we’re gonna have one kick-ass party when they do.”

Also in the works is a website and Jolliff is currently looking to book other major acts, although none have been announced as of this printing. Stoney Larue, Jason Boland and the Stragglers, and Cross Canadian Ragweed are all acts on Jolliff’s wish list, but in the meantime, patrons can come in for local bands or to dance to the tunes spun by Kenny Comer, who deejays nightly. Or maybe you just want to sit back and sip a cold one of the fine import or domestic beers or mixed drinks Whiskey Jim’s offers.

Whether you want to see a good live show, hang out with some old friends, or just enjoy the friendly atmosphere of a family run business, Whiskey Jim’s is the place to do it if you’re 21 or older. They’re open from 9pm to 2am Wed. through Sat. Whiskey Jim’s is located at 109 W. Willis Road, right behind Del Rancho. Just look for the big shiny red metal roof with the Whiskey Jim’s sign on top. For information on upcoming shows and events, call (918)458-9988.

The Current-Mar. 2008 Feature Story 1

South Austin Jug Band Takes Bluegrass To All Souls’

By Regan Henson

Tulsa’s All Soul Acoustic Coffeehouse is gaining a reputation as one of the premier establishments for live music in Northeastern Oklahoma by bringing in national touring acts for monthly concerts. This month, music lovers are treated to the genre-bending sounds of the South Austin Jug Band.

For the uninitiated, South Austin Jug Band is a not a jug band, but has been given various labels, from bluegrass to alt-country to roots rock to newgrass, whatever that means. Give them a listen and you might find yourself thinking you’re hearing Jack Johnson singing lead for the Gourds. No matter what genre you try to pigeon-hole these guys in, no one can argue that they can flat out play. The folks at the Austin Music Awards didn’t seem to have a problem calling these boys a bluegrass outfit in 2005, when they were voted as Best Bluegrass Band. Anyone familiar with the Austin music scene can tell you that’s a pretty big deal.

Formed in 2000, SAJB consists of singer/guitarist James Hyland, Dennis Ludiker on mandolin, Willie Pipkin on lead guitar, Brian Beken on fiddle and Will Dupuy on bass. The band has released two albums, 2003’s South Austin Jug Band and 2005’s Dark and Weary World, and has toured relentlessly all over the world, building a heavy fan base and yielding a slew of YouTube clips that showcase their stunning live shows.

SAJB’s third album, Strange Invitation, is scheduled for an April 1 release date. This is the first album that will feature songs written collaboratively by all the band’s members, but fans don’t need to worry, their mellow sound and impeccable musicianship remain solid. The sole cover on the album is a remake of that quintessential bluegrass tune, “Jackass,” by Beck Hanson. The album’s name even comes from a lyric from that same song. Told you these guys shouldn’t be pigeon-holed.

After playing in Oklahoma City in February, South Austin Jug Band is back in Texas throughout March, highlighted by a few shows at Austin’s South by Southwest music festival, before they make it to Tulsa at the end of the month. SAJB will play the All Soul Acoustic Coffee House Mar. 29. Tickets are $13.00 for students and senior citizens and $15.00 for adults. Tickets can be purchased at the door or in advance by visiting the All Souls Unitarian Church at 2952 S. Peoria Ave. in Tulsa or by calling (918)743-2363. Tickets are also available at the Midtown Borders Bookstore at 21st Street, (918)712-9955. Doors open at 7pm and seats are available on a first come first served basis for non-season ticket holders.

Oh, and if you’re wondering why a band that calls itself South Austin Jug Band wouldn’t feature any jug-playing, there’s a pretty simple answer. Founding member Hyland named his band after a television special he remembered from childhood. The name of the show? Emmett Otter’s Jug Band Christmas. Check out SAJB online by visiting

The Current-Feb. 2008 Feature Story 2

Tracy Lawrence Finds His Friends at Whiskey Jim’s

By Regan Henson

There’s a new venue for seeing live music opening up in the heart of Currentland this February, and they’re getting things off on the right foot by bringing one of the biggest stars in country music for their grand opening party. Tracy Lawrence, fresh off his first ever CMA win for Musical Event of the Year for his collaboration with Tim McGraw and Kenny Chesney on the number one hit, “Find Out Who Your Friends Are,” will be playing the grand opening of Whiskey Jim’s Saloon in Tahlequah on February 15.

Best known for his early 90s hits like “Sticks and Stones” and “Alibis,” Lawrence saw his popularity wane toward the end of the decade, but he has recently enjoyed a career resurgence of sorts with the 2007 release of For the Love, his ninth album of original songs, and the first on his own record label, Rocky Comfort Records. The album peaked at number six on Billboard Magazine’s Country Charts and yielded the aforementioned CMA winning hit, and a second single, “Til I Was a Daddy Too,” is currently working its way up the charts.

Lawrence’s career started on this latest upswing after he left Mercury Records, his fourth different record label, following the release of his 2005 compilation, Then and Now: The Hits Collection. Fed up with the power labels, Lawrence teamed up with his brother Laney and founded Rocky Comfort Records in 2006, and For the Love is the first release from the label.
In an obvious effort to exploit some of the momentum he has gained from his newly rediscovered fame, Lawrence also made time in 2007 to release the Christmas album, All Wrapped Up in Christmas, in addition to his third greatest hits compilation, The Very Best of Tracy Lawrence, which includes an astonishing 21 tracks, six of which list the multi-talented Lawrence as co-writer. Now the former Academy of Country Music award winner for Best New Artist and Top New Male Vocalist is bringing his acclaimed live show to Tahlequah.

The Arkansas native will be playing live and loud at Whiskey Jim’s Saloon starting at 8pm on Friday, Feb.15. The show is 21-and-over and general admission tickets are $26.50 and can be purchased at the door or by or by going online at or calling 1.866.443.8849. Whiskey Jim’s Saloon is located at 109 W. Willis Road in Tahlequah. Make sure you get down there and show Tracy how we do it in Currentland. Check him out at

The Current-Feb. 2008 Feature Story 1

The State Capitol Never Sounded So Good

By Regan Henson

Art Garfunkel has walked across America. All the way across, from New York City to the west coast of Washington. The fact that the journey took over 14 years notwithstanding, that is still an impressive feat. He has also walked across Japan. That little jaunt took just a few weeks, but the most astounding thing is that he wrote poetry as he walked. Have you ever tried writing while you walk? If you, while walking, can put pen to paper and come up with something not resembling Muhammad Ali’s grocery list, then you must be talented. Another thing about Art Garfunkel: he is a legend of folk-pop music.

For younger music fans and Current readers who may be unfamiliar with Art Garfunkel, remember the scene from Old School when Will Ferrell’s Frank the Tank character shoots himself in the jugular with a high-powered tranquilizer, then stumbles into the pool? The song you hear as Frank the Tank slowly sinks beneath the water is “The Sounds of Silence,” sung by the folk-pop maestros Simon and Garfunkel. Yes, that Garfunkel. While we’re on the subject of movie soundtracks, the duo also wrote arguably the most famous soundtrack single in the history of cinema, “Mrs. Robinson,” from Mike Nichols’ 1968 classic, The Graduate.

Of course, older fans will be intimately familiar with Garfunkel, although mostly from his days in the aforementioned Simon and Garfunkel. The legendary duo released four albums in the sixties before breaking up following their 1970 masterpiece, Bridge Over Troubled Water. Following the break-up, Garfunkel focused on acting, most notably in Mike Nichols’ adaptation of Joseph Heller’s classic satirical novel, Catch-22, and began a solo music career, which has included the release of 14 albums and ten charting singles. Along the way he has reunited with his old pal Paul Simon to tour as Simon and Garfunkel a number of times, and to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

These days you can catch Garfunkel touring in support of his 2007 solo release, Some Enchanted Evening. He’ll be in Oklahoma City as part of the Oklahoma City Philharmonic Pop Series at the Civic Center Music Hall performing at the Thelma E. Gaylord Performing Arts Theatre on Friday Feb. 22 and Saturday Feb. 23. Both shows start at 8pm with tickets from $12 to $62. Call 405.297.2264 or 1.800.364.7111 for details.

If Art Garfunkel is a little too soft rock-y for your particular tastes, you might want to wait a week before you head to the city and check out the guys from Linkin Park when they roll into town in support of their latest album, Minutes to Midnight. After an early career that found them pigeon-holed by critics somewhere between the hardcore sonic thunder of Korn and the lame-ass white boy rap posers of Limp Bizkit, Linkin Park has emerged as the cream of the nu-metal crop, with over 50 million albums sold and two Grammy wins. This latest album serves as a departure from their previous hip-hop centric sound, with more politically charged lyrics and less reliance on rap metal influences.

The album debuted at number one on Billboard Magazine’s Top 200 Album chart, establishing Linkin Park as one of the hottest rock bands in the world. The first three singles from Minutes to Midnight have all cracked the top five on Billboard’s Modern Rock and Mainstream Rock charts, with debut single, “What I’ve Done” coming in at number one on both charts and peaking at number two on the Top 100 Singles chart.

If you want to witness a rock band at the height of its popularity operating at peak performance, come see Linkin Park with special guest Coheed and Cambria on Friday Feb. 29 at the Ford Center in OKC. The show starts at 7pm and tickets are $37.50 and $47.50. To order tickets, go online at or call 405.235.8288.

For anyone who thought of the 90s as the zenith of pop-rock, March 2 is going to be a treat. Two of the biggest selling acts of the decade will be teaming up to bring the noise and nostalgia when Matchbox Twenty and special guest Alanis Morissette play the Ford Center.

Already a mild star in her native Canada at the time, Alanis Morissette burst onto the music scene with the 1995 release of Jagged Little Pill, technically her third album due to two earlier Canadian only releases. The album came to be considered a neo-feminist statement on independence and self-actualization that drew both women and men with its blunt lyrics and melodic arrangements. Behind the strength of the singles “Ironic,” “Hand in My Pocket,” and “You Oughta Know” (which, by the way, is rumored to be about former Full House cast member, Dave Coulier. You remember him, the one who wasn’t funny at all. No, the other one. No, the other one. Never mind!), Jagged Little Pill became the biggest selling international debut album by a female artist in history, the second biggest selling album by a female artist in history, and the biggest selling debut album by an artist of either gender in history. A lot of people bought the album, is the point here.

The album also won four Grammys, including Best Rock Album and Album of the Year, but Morissette wasn’t finished there. Her follow-up album, 1998s Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie, debuted at number one on the Billboard Top 200 Album chart, and, while falling short of the success of her previous album, gained multi-platinum sales status. Two more albums followed, 2002s Under Rug Swept and 2004s So-Called Chaos, though none have reached the astronomical sales figures of Jagged Little Pill. Her latest album, Flavors of Entanglement, is due in April.

Headlining the bill will be another 90s titan, Matchbox Twenty, who, it turns out, are still a band. This may come as a surprise to fans who have gotten used to seeing front man Rob Thomas singing on everything from Carlos Santana’s album to commercial spots for the NBA, but there is a new Matchbox Twenty album available, Exile on Mainstream, which features five original songs and a collection of previously released tracks. But before you get overly excited about the prospects of a new album of original material you should know that after the spring the band will once again go on hiatus so Thomas can work on material for his second solo album. If being in a band really is like a marriage, then these guys are like Pam and Tommy Lee, only hopefully without the hepatitis-c.

Whichever artist you might prefer, and I’m guessing these two share much of the same fan base, it’s sure to be a fun night of fairly recent nostalgia. Speaking of nostalgia, Alanis Morissette once opened for Vanilla Ice during his 1991 tour. So she has that going for her, which is nice. The show is March 2 at the Ford Center. Tickets are $49.50, $59.50 and $75 and can be purchased online at or by calling 405.235.8288. The concert starts at 7pm with Mute Math opening.

The Current-Jan. 2008 Feature Story 2

Harlem Gospel Choir Brings Harmony To Tahlequah

By Regan Henson

If you didn’t get everything on your Christmas list you might want to consider treating yourself to a late present when the Harlem Gospel Choir visits the Center for the Performing Arts on the beautiful Tahlequah Campus of the Northeastern State University. Featuring the greatest performers from various black churches in Harlem, the Harlem Gospel Choir has been spreading the message of faith and love through music for more than 20 years.

The Choir was founded in 1986 by Allen Bailey, who has worked in the entertainment industry for more than four decades, promoting such diverse talents as Mr. T, Isaac Hayes, Prince and the Commodores. Bailey’s resume also includes working as the entertainment coordinator for Muhammad Ali and George Foreman’s 1974 heavyweight championship fight, The Rumble in the Jungle in Zaire, and assisting the east coast production of We Are the World in 1985 and USA for Africa in 1986. It was while attending a celebration honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at Harlem’s famed Cotton Club that Bailey got the idea to form the Choir.

In the years since forming the Choir, Bailey has focused all his attention on promoting the group and spreading its message throughout the world, most recently performing in Poland, Latvia and Lithuania, and in Japan where the Choir celebrated its tenth year of performing in the country.
The theme of every performance the Choir gives is: Bringing People and Nations Together and Giving Something Back, and give back the group does. The group is actively involved in numerous charities, including the Leukemia Society, the Cancer Foundation, Feed the Children (for which funds are raised through the sale of bracelets at the Choir’s shows and on its website) and many others. The group has performed at the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, a camp for terminally-ill children founded by Paul Newman, and with Jimmy Cliff at The Sounds of Hope Concert to raise funds for African children who have been afflicted with AIDS.

Over the years the Choir has performed for thousands of people, including world and religious leaders. Nelson Mandela saw them perform at Yankee Stadium and Pope John Paul II saw them in Central Park. The group has also shared the stage with some of the biggest names in music, including U2, Mary J. Blige, Cyndi Lauper, Lyle Lovett, Yolanda Adams and even the virtual band, the Gorillaz. Each Sunday the Choir gives a performance at B.B. King’s Blues Club in New York City’s Times Square. The Sunday show features the usual foot stomping, hand clapping performance, and includes a home-style soul food buffet.

But if you can’t make it to Times Square, that’s just fine. Just be at the Center for the Performing Arts on Friday, Feb. 1 at 7:30pm. The performance is part of the 22nd Annual Galaxy of Stars series and is presented by Go Ye Village. For ticket information, call the NSU box office at (918)458-2078. You can visit the Harlem Gospel Choir online at

The Current-Jan. 2008 Feature Story 1

B.B. King-The Thrill Is Never Gone

By Regan Henson

And so, the story goes, one winter night in the mid 1950s the young bluesman found himself playing a juke joint, its only source of heat provided by a half-filled barrel of kerosene, which, in those days, was set afire to push back the cold. As the young bluesman finished his set, a fight broke out between two men. The men fought with such passion and intensity that the barrel was knocked on its side, spilling the burning kerosene onto the floor of the juke joint and sending the patrons fleeing into the cold night. Standing outside, the young bluesman realized that in the excitement and confusion he had forgotten his guitar, and immediately he ran back into the burning building to retrieve this most prized possession. The bluesman barely escaped the flames that night with his guitar, and the next day he learned that the fight that caused the fire, a fire that claimed the lives of two others, had been over a woman named Lucille, which, given the passion and intensity with which the two men fought, was the only thing that could have caused it. In a flash of inspiration, the young bluesman named his guitar after the woman, and has given every guitar he has played since the same name, so as to never forget her again, so, the story goes.

This is the way in which legends are born, but the true legend of this story, Riley B. King, was born much earlier, in 1925 on a plantation in Itta Bene, Mississippi. When his mother left his father, four-year- old Riley went to live with his grandmother in Kilmichael, Mississippi. Like so many of the giants of American music, Riley was first introduced to music in his church, where the preacher taught him a few chords on the guitar, but it was the music he heard coming out of his Great Aunt Mima’s Victrola that truly inspired young Riley. It was these early days of listening to the Delta Blues at Mima’s house that Riley would carry with him throughout his life, and help him to become one of the greatest musicians in American history.

But one doesn’t become a legend overnight, especially in those days when there was no American Idol or Star Search to catapult young hopefuls to stardom. Having purchased his first guitar at the age of twelve, young Riley learned to play a mishmash of the gospel songs he’d known from church and the blues he’d fallen in love with at Mima’s house. After years of playing with gospel groups and working street corners, Riley decided to focus entirely on the blues, a path that led him to Memphis, Tennessee in 1946 where he lived and practiced with his cousin, Bukka White, who had gained a reputation as a blues singer in his own right. After moving back to Mississippi for a short time, Riley returned to Memphis in 1948, and earned his first big break, playing a few radio shows as “Blues Boy” King. The popularity of these radio broadcasts landed him a steady gig playing the Sixteenth Avenue Grill, his name now shortened to B.B. King. With his popularity growing, King recorded the single “Miss Martha King” for Bullet Records. While the reviews were lackluster, the single led to King signing with RPM Records where he worked with soon-to-be legend, Sam Phillips.

During the 50s, B.B. King became one of the biggest R&B artists in the country, releasing classics such as “Mistreated Woman,” “The Other Night Blues,” “Bad Luck,” and many more. The decade also saw King release his first full-length LPs, 1958s Singin’ the Blues and 1959s The Blues on Crown Records. But even with the level of success he’d attained, B.B. King was still years away from becoming known to white audiences. The first seeds of a cross-over were planted with the release of 1965s classic live album, Live at the Regal, recorded at the Regal Theater in Chicago. That same year saw the release of the first Butterfield Blues Band album, featuring the late guitarist Mike Bloomfield, who cited B.B. King as his primary influence. King’s recognition as a master of the blues guitar was growing.

Still, B.B. King was far from a household name, a fact that would change with the release of his cover of Roy Hawkins’ “The Thrill is Gone” in 1969, which peaked at #15 on the Billboard Pop chart and led to King appearing on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and The Ed Sullivan Show. From that point, King’s popularity soared and he continued to tour and record throughout the seventies, eighties, nineties and into the new century.

Through the years King has shared the stage with artists such as The Rolling Stones, U2, Eric Clapton, Phish and just about any blues artist worth a lick. In 2000 he collaborated with Clapton on the album Riding with the King which was the biggest selling disc of his storied career and in 2003 Rolling Stone Magazine listed him at number three on its list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time. He has also been inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, been awarded 14 Grammys, The Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Kennedy Center Honors, the Presidential Medal of the Arts, and an Honorary Doctorate of Music from both Brown University and Yale University. Along the way he has found time to father 15 children and suffered two failed marriages, both of which contributed greatly to his blues songs, most notably the classic “Woke Up this Morning.”

In addition to the aforementioned honors (which are only a small sample of those bestowed on him throughout the years), B.B. King has been an outspoken supporter of the musical arts in public schools for years, and in 2002 he became an honorary board member of Little Kids Rock, an organization that provides music education assistance to schools throughout the country. He is also a spokesperson for the fight against Type II Diabetes, a disease he has lived with for over twenty years.

These days B.B. King doesn’t record as much as he used to, but one can still find the old bluesman on the road, stroking Lucille and making her purr, growl and sometimes screech like a wildcat up to 300 shows a year. At the age of 82, he doesn’t move like he once could, but fortunately the juke joints he plays now don’t rely on a barrel of kerosene to keep the crowd warm. He does that all by himself.

This month B.B. King will be keeping audiences in Currentland warm with his legendary brand of the blues. Don’t miss B.B. and Lucille when they visit The Tulsa Performing Arts Center on Sat. Jan. 26 at 8p.m. Tickets are $50 and $65 and are available online at If you can’t make the Tulsa show, not to worry, he’ll be playing the next night, Sun. Jan. 27 at 7:30p.m. at The Eureka Springs City Auditorium in Eureka Springs, AR. Tickets are $116 for that show and can be purchased by calling (479)253-7788. That’s two legends for the price of one. And so, the story goes on.

The Current-Dec. 2007 Feature Story 2

George’s Majestic Lounge Keeps It Hot Through The Holidays

By Regan Henson

The planet turns away from the sun as the days grow shorter, leaves fall from increasingly naked trees, their limbs reaching skyward like skeletal fingers in the throes of death, struggling against the painful, cruel and inevitable onslaught of winter. Okay, maybe it’s not that bad, especially when you consider the incredible slate of artists coming to George’s Majestic Lounge this month. Head east, young man (and gals), just a hop, skip, and road trip from the heart of Currentland to the cool atmosphere of Dickson Street in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Since 1927, George’s has offered almost nightly servings of superb live music, and December kicks off in style with a true outlaw legend as the Old Five and Dimer himself, Billy Joe Shaver, brings his brand of Texas flavor for a song swap featuring guests, Randy Rogers and Chris Knight on Sunday the 2nd.

For you youngsters out there, Billy Joe Shaver is the hall of fame songwriter behind Waylon Jennings’ classic Honky Tonk Heroes LP, who has also had songs covered by artists ranging from Elvis Presley to Kris Kristofferson, and has performed with artists such as Big and Rich and the inimitable Kinky Friedman. As if that isn’t enough to get your attention, Shaver can also be heard singing the theme song on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim series, Squidbillies. His latest album, Everybody’s Brother, has garnered critical praise with the single, “Get Thee Behind Me, Satan,” receiving airplay on country radio.

Joining the 68-year old Shaver is fellow Texan, Randy Rogers, who younger fans will recognize from the single, “Kiss Me In The Dark,” which spent several weeks on CMT’s top 20 video countdown, and Kentucky born singer-songwriter Chris Knight, who has written for the likes of Montgomery Gentry and Randy Travis.

Come back the following weekend for a couple of bands that offer wholly different takes on live music, Particle, the electronica infused jam band on Saturday the 8th and Indigenous, the Native American blues band on Sunday the 9th.

Particle ain’t yer daddy’s jam band. Formed in Los Angeles in 2000, these boys have managed to build a faithful and enthusiastic following while making the lineup from Guns N Roses seem like the poster boys for band stability. Band members might come and go, but their ability to induce concertgoers to sweat-soaked gyrations remains. College kids shouldn’t have all the fun, so come join the Particle People and see what all the fuss is about.

Maybe you’ve never heard of Indigenous. Maybe the only thing coming out of your stereo speakers is Rush Limbaugh. Or Britney Spears. Or some other crap. Well, here’s your chance to not suck. Or to stop sucking. At the very least, here’s your chance to suck a little less, something we all should aspire to. Mato Nanji has been called a lot of things, from the next Jimi Hendrix to the next Eric Clapton to the next Stevie Ray Vaughn. Notice a trend? Those three guys are at or near the top of any greatest guitarist who ever lived list you’re gonna find. Mato Nanji has been compared to all of them. Mato Nanji is the singer, songwriter, and guitarist for Indigenous. Fresh from receiving the Aboriginal People’s Choice Music Award (APCMA) for Best Blues Album for Chasing the Sun, Indigenous will be returning to George’s to show us all just why they won the award. There. Now you know something about Indigenous, and, therefore, suck a little less.

Get set for another Texas singer-songwriter when Pat Green plays on Thursday the 13th. Given his early career popularity among college crowds, this one’s sure to be a tough ticket since George’s is just blocks away from the beautiful University of Arkansas campus, but for you fellas who don’t mind the idea of being stuffed nut to butt with hot little Razorback coeds, it would be wise to circle this date on your calendars and make it out to see Green as he supports his latest album, Cannonball.

As the year draws to a close, George’s kicks it up a notch or two with another jam band, Speakeasy, on Saturday the 29th. This is the type of band that is definitely best experienced live, and they’ve been wowing crowds across the Midwest over the last seven years with their high-energy progressive rock sound. Opening the show will be the reggae/jam band, Jah Roots.

But just because the year is ending, that doesn’t mean the fun is, and George’s New Years Eve Party featuring Big Smith is the place to be to ring in 2008. How does one describe Big Smith? Picture the house band from Deliverance with better dental hygiene. These boys have evolved over the years from being simply five cousins playing hillbilly music on acoustic instruments to now being six cousins playing hillbilly music on mostly acoustic and sometimes even electric instruments. The only thing that hasn’t changed is the good time the audience is guaranteed at a Big Smith show. That oughta warm your bones as winter comes roaring in.

For ticket information and show times you can call George’s Majestic Lounge at 479.527.6618 or go online at

The Current-Dec. 2007 Feature Story 1

Buffalo Run Casino Will Have You Running to Miami

By Regan Henson

Everyone knows if you cheat on Carrie Underwood she’s liable to slash your tires or bust out your headlights. Crazy chick, right? Try that shit on Miranda Lambert. Then consider yourself lucky if the worst thing that happens is she burns your house down. The more likely outcome is she’ll run off your dog, slap your mama, max out your credit cards, tell you the score of the game you didn’t get to see so you TiVo’d it so you could watch it later and avoided talking to anyone who had seen it and didn’t read the paper or watch Sportscenter, tell every single chick who’ll listen that you suffer from chronic “shrinkage”, wash your lights and darks together, and then burn your house down. And then shoot your ass.

Maybe the chick has issues, maybe she just don’t take no guff. Whatever the motivation is, Miranda Lambert is using it to burn up the airwaves and pile up awards. Since her second album, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, was released earlier this year, critics have raved non-stop, with both USA Today and The Rolling Stone calling it the best country album of the year. At this year’s CMA awards show, Lambert stole the show with her raucous rendition of her current single, “Gunpowder and Lead,” a song that features lyrics describing a not so subtle solution for dealing with an abusive boyfriend.

This little lady is like Loretta Lynn on crack, suffering from a wicked case of ‘roid rage coupled with drug-resistant PMS, and women from across Currentland will be flocking to see her live when she comes to the Buffalo Run Casino on Saturday, December 9th for a live performance. A smart guy would probably tag along, enjoy the music, and constantly remind his better half that he’s not the type of guy Lambert sings about. An even smarter guy would probably pony up the $35 or $40 for tickets.

Before Miranda Lambert there was Tanya Tucker. Since the age of thirteen, Tanya Tucker has been a star of country music. Her first hit, “Delta Dawn,” came a decade before Lambert was even born. Her career has had its ups and downs, but, unlike many artists, Tucker has managed to post several successful comebacks, achieving number one songs in the seventies, eighties, and nineties, as well as charting songs on the top 50 in 2002 and 2003. Now as she closes in on fifty, Tucker still tours and prepares for the release of her upcoming album, Lonesome Town, and makes appearances on other artists’ albums, most recently showing up on Billy Joe Shaver’s Everyone’s Brother. On Friday the 14th Tucker will be at the Buffalo Run and will display the talents that has allowed her to enjoy a career that has spanned almost four decades. Tickets for the show are $35 and $40.

After two shows like Miranda Lambert and Tanya Tucker, one might just feel like a break from all that estrogen. Not to worry. On January 11th Buffalo Run will welcome Ron “Tater Salad” White with his Texas brand of stand-up comedy for a show to ring in 2008. For those who don’t know, White is the president and CEO of Comedy Central (aka The Ron White Network). No, my mistake, he’s just on Comedy Central an awful lot. Anyway, White is best known for his performances in the Blue Collar Comedy Tour specials on said network. These specials have achieved some of the highest ratings in the network’s history, and have served as catalysts for the most widely used excruciatingly unfunny catch phrase, “Git er done,” in the history of mankind. Happily, White is not responsible for that catch phrase, and is in fact, a really funny dude (don’t ask me if the “git er done” guy is funny, as I know too many people who actually believe he is, and would be forced to alienate them).

White is the perfect antidote for estrogen overdose. He likes to drink while he works, and sometimes would rather enjoy a nice drag off his cigar than talk to you. What’s not to like? Others seem to agree as White’s “You Can’t Fix Stupid” comedy album was nominated for a Grammy and spent several weeks on the Billboard Comedy Charts, and his book, I Had The Right To Remain Silent…But I Didn’t Have The Ability, debuted at number 14 on the New York Times Bestseller list. But if you really need a reason to like Ron White, consider this: He’s part owner of Scene of the Crash, The Alpha Trade National Award Program’s Bounty Bull, an award given to the most horrifyingly intimidating bull in the PBR. How cool is that? Tickets for the Ron White show at Buffalo Run Casino go on sale November 24th and start at $55.

For additional information and to reserve tickets for any of these shows, call the Buffalo Run Casino in Miami (pronounced my-am-uh by real Okies) at 918.542.7140 ext. 2200 or go online at

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Current-Oct. 2007 Feature Story

Robert Randolph Brings Spirited Show To Currentland

By Regan Henson

On the seventh day, God did not rest. We all know what the bible tells us, but remember, the bible was written by men. Any angel will tell you that God spent that seventh day like many of the men created in His image, tinkering around in His heavenly garage. It was in this immaculate setting that He set forth to create the most heavenly of musical instruments. And the pedal steel guitar was born. And it was good.

But His angels were unable to play such an instrument, so He set in motion a series of events that would culminate with the creation of the perfect pedal steel guitarist. And Robert Randolph was born. And it was groovy.

As a teenager, Robert Randolph began playing the pedal steel guitar in his Orange, NJ church. By early 2001, Randolph and his Family Band, including cousins Danyell Morgan on bass and Marcus Randolph on drums along with organist John Ginty (later replaced by Jason Crosby), was playing club dates in and around New York City. It was at these early performances where RRFB began perfecting their funk, rock, gospel, jam sound that was and continues to be defined by two words: high energy.

It was also at these early shows that Randolph took the first steps toward becoming a legend, stretching the boundaries of the pedal steel to the point that they are no longer visible. His genius with his instrument was quickly recognized by artists across musical genres, leading to his appearance on albums from artists as diverse as Ringo Starr to Rob Thomas to Fountains of Wayne, and to inevitable comparisons with musicians whom have similarly redefined their instruments, such as Jimi Hendricks and Stevie Wonder.

In between guest spots on other artists’ albums, RRFB have managed to release a live album, 2002’s Live at the Wetlands, and two studio works, 2003’s Grammy-nominated Unclassified and Colorblind, released earlier this year. With the success of the first two singles, Ain’t Nothing Wrong With That and Thrill of it, Colorblind has the sound and feel of an album that will catapult RRFB from critics’ darlings to household name status. Featuring guest artists such as Dave Mathews, Leela James and Eric Clapton, Colorblind also captures a moment in time when a quasi-jam band finds the confidence to write and record great individual songs without sacrificing any of the energy of their lively stage show.

This October you out there in Currentland can experience that lively stage show first hand when RRFB visits George’s Majestic Lounge in Fayetteville and Cain’s Ballroom in Tulsa. Imagine what you might have done for the chance to see Jimi Hendrix live at the height of his creativity. Maybe you had the chance and declined. Maybe you’re too young to have ever had that chance. Either way, the artist many critics are calling this generation’s Hendrix will soon be playing in your area and you have the chance to see him live. What would Jesus Do? There’s a good chance he’d be at George’s on October 8th or the Cain’s on October 9th. Rose Hill Drive opens both nights and doors open at 7 p.m. You can buy tickets online for either show or by calling George’s box office at (479)527-6618 or the Cain’s box office at (866)443-8849.

The Current-Nov. 2007 Feature Story

Emerging Artist Spotlight-colourmusic

By Regan Henson

Everyone loves a good mystery. Who shot J.R.? Where’s Waldo? How the hell is Rosie O’Donnell famous? Questions like these have transfixed our collective imaginations throughout time, and each year new mysteries arise that garner our attention and serve as catalysts for our deeply philosophical water cooler discussions. Well here’s a mystery for you: Who is Roy G. Biv?

Like the best mysteries, there are clues to this particular one in the name itself. Don’t know what I mean? Ask your six-year-old. Roy G. Biv is the common mnemonic device used for remembering the primary colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. It’s also the shared identity of the masterminds behind one of Oklahoma’s most creative and largely unknown bands, colourmusic.

There are no clues to the mystery offered in the cheeky, cryptic profile the band provides on myspace, where it claims that Roy G. Biv is a descendent of Sir Isaac Newton and suffers from synesthesia (google it), a disorder that causes him to see actual colors when he hears music. Having lived his life struggling with his affliction in the shadows of such a famous ancestor, Roy prefers to shroud his identity under the veil of the moniker each band member shares, along with the vow to never reveal the truth, except, according to DJ Roy, through torture.

The band is based out of Stillwater, but make no mistake, this isn’t another Red Dirt retread. These guys share a muse with fellow Oklahomans, The Flaming Lips, not only in their eclectic sound, but also in their live shows.

“We are influenced by the Lips, but we are influenced more by their philosophy than by their musical stylings. When I say philosophy, I mean their live philosophy, making every show an experience,” Says DJ Roy.

We believe that it is better to make an impact on people live, good or bad, then to just come off as okay. We may not be successful at this goal, but it is very important to us and we put in a lot of effort in this direction. But it's a very helpful philosophy because it forces you to be ambitious.”

That ambition has led to a growing fan base and even led to an appearance on The Tonight Show, where Wayne Coyne of the aforementioned Flaming Lips interviewed the band from the South by Southwest music festival in Austin, TX. There are also numerous performance clips of the band on YouTube and at their myspace page, Watching these performances, and seeing the different media they incorporate into their live shows, it’s easy to see why the band has established such a loyal fan base.

“We like to try all sorts of things at our shows. We are still trying to figure out the boundaries of a rock show. We definitely play with media when we can, but it's tough to do that because unless we have a lot of prep time,” DJ Roy says.

We are usually just pulling everything together in the last minute. Most of our shows are not ever fully realized until the minute we hit the stage, which can be very stressful sometimes.”

Adding to the stresses of producing an entertaining live show is the fact that while four of the band members are from Oklahoma, a fifth lives in London, making performing a challenging and somewhat rare event. However, having been together as a band for four years and playing live for two, the Roys were able to come up with a creative solution: They play the British Roy live via iPod. Whoever Roy G. Biv is, he’s definitely creative.

In fact, the band is currently in the process of creating their first full-length album, tentatively scheduled for a February release. The album still doesn’t have a name, but according to DJ Roy, it’s colored orange.

So the mystery of Roy G. Biv shall remain a mystery, but one may find a clue, or at least a wickedly entertaining night out, by catching a live performance by the band when they play Nov. 24th at the Opolis in Norman at 9pm. Tickets are $8 and can be purchased by calling the box office at (405)820-0951.