Carrie Underwood performs Wednesday night at Tulsa’s BOK Center. (Brandi Simmons for The Oklahoman)
Check out the great photos Brandi Simmons took for The Oklahoman and NewsOK Wednesday night at Carrie Underwood’s big show at Tulsa’s BOK Center. You can see the slide show by clicking here.
Today’s featured event:
NORMAN – Hear the atmospheric, psychedelic indie rock of Norman-based band the Evangelicals tonight at Opolis, 113 N Crawford.
The show also will feature Early Beat, Dance Robots Dance (DRD) and comedienne Leah Kayajanian. It starts at 9 p.m.
To learn more about the Evangelicals, go to www.myspace.com/evangelicals.
For more information, go to www.starlightmints.com/opolis.html.
For more events, go to www.wimgo.com.
Carrie Underwood plays earlier this year at the Stagecoach Music Festival. (Associated Press photo)
Carrie Underwood’s “Carnival Ride” brings her back to Oklahoma
TULSA – “It’s good to be home,” Carrie Underwood declared Wednesday night from the stage at the BOK Center.
With the wardrobe changes, impressive light displays and final cascade of confetti, the Tulsa stop on her “Carnival Ride Tour” served as an elaborate and sometimes emotional homecoming for the Oklahoma native. The adoring near-sellout crowd, which included many friends and relatives, loudly and eagerly welcomed the country star back to her home state.
The anticipation was palpable as an estimated 11,000 fans counted down to her big entrance. The crowd erupted as the 2005 “American Idol” winner slowly ascended through a trap door beneath the two-level stage and launched into her sassy song “Flat on the Floor” and uplifting early hit “Some Hearts.”
“It really is good to be home,” repeated Underwood, who was dressed in a short, layered purple dress trimmed with black lace. “It’s been far too long. Tonight’s all about having a good time, so please sing along, dance along, clap your hands, stomp your feet.”
From grade-schoolers to grandparents, the eclectic audience enthusiastically obliged. Teenagers and their moms pulled out camera phones to capture the star wailing out her poignant hit “Wasted.” As Underwood, 25, strutted along the runway to a smaller stage out in the crowd, fans stretched to touch her, and those who offered flowers got a polite thank you, even in mid-song.
In between belting her hits, grooving with her eight-person band and making playful conversation with the crowd, the Checotah native carved out some family time. She brought her 5-year-old cousin on stage for the spirited single “All-American Girl,” coaxing the girl into singing along on the big finish.
She carried out her baby nephew during “More Boys Our Meet,” telling the boy, “Help me find Mr. Right, because if he’s anywhere, he’s in Oklahoma.” When the baby started crying, Underwood laughingly rushed him off stage as the fans finished out the song.
As she finished the uplifting “Crazy Dreams,” Underwood again disappeared through the trap door below the stage. While video clips of the big moments in her three-year music career played on giant screens flanking the stage, the star changed into a floor-length blue-gray gown. The elegant evening dress was perfect attire for her heartbreaking ballad “I Know You Won’t” and the stirring fan favorite “Jesus Take the Wheel.”
The full skirt of the gown dramatically fell away to reveal a shorter version as she belted the autobiographical “I Ain’t in Checotah Anymore,” which she dedicated to “anyone from Checotah, around Checotah or has been to Checotah.”
She professed a desire to make people in her home state proud as she addressed tabloid reports about her romantic involvements, telling the crowd the only male in her life is her dog Ace.
“I want you guys to know that whoever it says I’m dating, there’s a 97 percent chance I’m not. … I promise my love life is not that interesting,” she said.
A series of musical solos from the band and an array of colorful lights provided cover for another wardrobe switch. The short, sparkly gold dress with its black knee-high boots matched her “what happens in Vegas” hit “Last Name.”
After promising not to change clothes again or bring any other relatives onstage, Underwood settled on a stool with her acoustic guitar. She thanked her fans for supporting her life-changing run on “Idol” and dedicated the emotional song “Don’t Forget to Remember Me” to the crowd.
When she got a bit choked up, she simply smiled, said “I knew this was gonna happen,” and finished the note-perfect performance.
Unfortunately, Underwood played the dedication and her cover of Randy Travis’ “I Told You So” on the small stage at the end of the runway, which meant her back was to about half the audience.
She tapped more emotional material with her current hit “Just a Dream” and “So Small” before ramping up the energy for a big finish with “Get out of This Town.”
But the crowd stomped, screamed and chanted her name until Underwood suddenly reappeared wearing a black leather jacket and jaunty hat with her gold dress.
She proved country girls can rock in her potent encore, first dancing and headbanging her way through a rollicking rendition of Guns ‘N’ Roses’ “Paradise City” and then blasting through her defiant mega-hit “Before He Cheats” as confetti rained on the keyed-up crowd.
Through her two-hour set, Underwood’s powerful voice never sounded worn or weary. She showed she has grown considerably as a performer over the past year.
Not that she needed it, but Underwood got plenty of help from her opening act, Little Big Town. The quartet’s perfect four-part harmony added sizzle to its feisty Southern rockers “Novocaine,” “Firebird Fly” and “Good Lord Willing.”
But the vocal group really got the crowd going with its cover of the 1980s pop anthem “Life in a Northern Town” and its biggest hit, the rowdy “Boondocks.”
Wayne Coyne (The Oklahoman Archives photo)
Follow this handy link to see an Entertainment Weekly video of Oklahoma City-based Grammy-winning alt-rock band the Flaming Lips playing their own unique take on the NBC’s signature “chime.”
The Lips are among several bands and solo artists who were asked to participate in the network’s “Chime In” promotional campaign. Along with the Lips, Clint Black, B.B. King, the B-52s, T.I. and more were given eight seconds to play at little something-something ending in the distinctive G, E, and C of the chime. The promos are set to start airing around Thanksgiving on the peacock network, according to this EW.com story.
The video shows Wayne Coyne and Co. working on their promo. Coyne also shows off his tricked-out double-necked “Guitar Hero” guitar, which merges a weird noise modulator with a “Guitar Hero” axe with the plastic buttons. It’s pretty wild and so totally Wayne. You’ll love it.
In honor of the cult TV show’s 20th anniversary, it’s “Mystery Science Theater 3000″ Week here at the blog. Here’s your giggle-inducing, bad movie-related quote of the day:
[Everyone is being sucked into the vacuum of space]
Crow T. Robot: Hey, Mike, you think you can toss me my calculations? Thanks! Ah, here it is. “Breach Hull – All Die.” Even had it underlined.
[after breaching the hull in an escape attempt]
Crow T. Robot: Well believe me, Mike, I calculated the odds of this succeeding versus the odds I was doing something incredibly stupid… and I went ahead anyway.
- From “MST3K: The Movie”
Oklahoma native Carrie Underwood, who just finished a great show at Tulsa’s BOK Center, is offering her fans some early Christmas gifts.
She is one of 11 female singers who croon carols with the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll on the new CD “Elvis Presley Christmas Duets.” The album uses whiz-bang technology to seamlessly merge the ladies’ new recordings with Elvis’ old renditions of the carols.
Underwood croons “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” on the album. Kimberly Schlapman and Karen Fairchild of country group Little Big Town, Underwood’s opening act, also are on the CD singing “O Little Town of Bethlehem.” (And I haven’t forgotten that I promised to bring you a review of this disc; it’s coming soon.)
In addition, Underwood recently released a special holiday edition of her current album “Carnival Ride” exclusively through Walmart stores. The holiday edition includes the classic carols “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” “The First Noel,” “What Child Is This,” and “O Holy Night” – all newly recorded for this album – along with her rendition of “Do You Hear What I Hear,” featured on last year’s multi-artist compilation, “Hear Something Country Christmas.”
Check out this YouTube video of Underwood belting “O Holy Night” on the 2005 “Christmas in Washington Special.” (She also playfully pushes around Jay DeMarcus from Rascal Flatts, but don’t worry, he’s seems pretty ornery and probably deserved it.)
Since it’s still Carrie Underwood Day here on the blog, and I just returned awhile ago from her terrific Tulsa stop on her “Carnival Ride Tour,” let’s check out some of the impressive numbers for her sophomore album “Carnival Ride.”
The numbers come to us from the McClatchy-Tribune News Service and Billboard.com.
- “Carnival Ride” eebuted at No. 1 atop Billboard’s Top Country Albums and all-genre Billboard 200 charts with first-week sales of 527,101.
- It earned highest first-week sales for any female artist in any genre at time of release in 2007.
- It set multiple chart records as best-selling first week of any country sophomore album since the inception of SoundScan.
- It notched the largest country debut in digital album chart history, with digital sales of 44,928.
- The album has sold 2 million copies and helped Underwood achieve the title as the Billboard 200 Top-Selling Female Artist of 2007.
“Carnival Ride” singles:
- “So Small,” three weeks No. 1, written by Carrie Underwood, Hillary Lindsey and Luke Laird. It entered country airplay charts at No. 20, marking the highest chart entry by a solo country female in Nielsen BDS history and went on to become a three-week No. 1 hit.
- “All American Girl,” two weeks No. 1, written by Carrie Underwood, Ashley Gorley and Kelly Lovelace.
The video has become the fastest video to No. 1 in the history of CMT’s Top 20.
It marks her sixth consecutive No. 1 and her second consecutive No. 1 as a songwriter. It is also the No. 1 Country Top Music Video, Country Top Song and Top Music Video at iTunes.
- “Last Name,” No. 1, written by Carrie Underwood, Luke Laird, Hillary Lindsey.
Underwood becomes the only artist in country chart history to have their first seven singles all reach No. 1. No country artist in the current era of BDS or Mediabase airplay monitoring has matched this accomplishment, nor has any country artist in recorded chart history debuted at No. 1 and extended that run across seven hits in a row.
- “Just a Dream,” written by Hillary Lindsey, Steve McEwan and Gordie Sampson, is currently at No. 3 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs Chart.
Little Big Town is, from left, Jimi Westbrook, Karen Fairchild, Kimberly Schlapman and Phillip Sweet.
Country quartet Little Big Town will be the special guests tonight at Carrie Underwood’s show at the BOK Center. This is an extended Q&A with Kimberly Schlapman, one of the singers for the vocal group, from a phone interview last week from a Virginia tour stop.
Schlapman talked about touring with Underwood, the band’s rerelease of the CD “A Place to Land” and balancing work and family. Little Big Town consists of Karen Fairchild, Schlapman, Jimi Westbrook, and Phillip Sweet, and she also talked about the unusual lineup of their group.
Q: How’s the tour going? You guys just started out recently with Carrie Underwood.
A: We started in September; we’ve been out five or six weeks, I guess about five weeks with Carrie. And it’s going fantastic. We’re having a ball. Carrie’s been really great to us, and she’s given us all her lights and all. We’ve never had so many lights to use. (laughs) We actually have our own lighting guy now for the first time ’cause we have so many great lights to use onstage. And that makes a huge difference in the show, the lighting and she’s been really kind to us. It’s been great.
Q: So she’s been sharing her lights with you?
A: Um hum, yeah, which is a big deal. That doesn’t always happen; headliners don’t always share all the goodies. So she’s been really great about that and very generous with the production, so it makes a big difference for our show, too.
Q: I’ve talked to her a few times, and every time I talked to her she still kind of seems surprised that she’s famous. Do you get that vibe off of her?
A: (laughs) Yeah. She’s a doll, she’s really sweet and down to earth and really kind. We’ve had a good time out here with her.
Q: She’s always saying something like she doesn’t know why people would recognize her or something like that.
A: (laughs) I know, and she’s a superstar. But yeah I guess it’s kind of cool that she doesn’t buy into all of it, you know.
Q: There’s a lot of girl power going on with your tour, with you and singing partner Karen Fairchild – not to forget your guys - but then you have Carrie Underwood as the headliner. Is that pretty interesting to have such a female presence on the tour and what kind of audiences are you getting?
A: It’s pretty awesome. We’ve done it once before with Martina McBride. We toured with her I guess a year and a half ago for a long time and so that’s the same girl power and also a killer voice. I mean, you can’t get better than the two of them for sure. Both of them – Carrie and Martina – they bring their top game every night. You know, you can watch night after night after night both of them sing and they never miss. It’s amazing.
As far as the crowds on this tour, it’s really a bit of a different crowd for us. You know, it’s the “American Idol” crowd and a wide range of ages, from little small children who watch and knew Carrie from “American Idol” all the way up to their grandmas who bring ‘em to the show. So it’s a wide range of fans, and ours are also in there. So it’s nice to see familiar faces, but it’s also been great for us to make some new fans. …
It’s very nice to have women represented so well right now in country music. There’s some just awesome singers who have taken our genre of music to another level and brought in more and more fans because of the great quality of female musicians right now in country music.
Q: I wanted to talk to you about why you re-released “A Place to Land” and what’s the story behind it and how did it tie into changing labels.
A: Well, we were on Equity Records, which is a small independent label in Nashville. We were there for about four years and had our first big hit there, “Boondocks.” And it went very well there but our contract ran out so some other labels in town were kind of courting us I guess you could say.
And we decided to sign with Capitol Records and Capitol actually acquired both of the CDs that we made at Equity, “The Road to Here” and “A Place to Land.” They acquired both of those from Equity, because when we were at Equity only one single was released off of that CD, and so when we knew that we were leaving and going to another label, we almost began to grieve that CD because we thought that we were going to have to leave it behind and start completely over with a new CD.
And when you make a CD, at least for us, we pour our absolute hearts and souls into every aspect of making the music, from writing the songs to recording to the artwork to every bit of the CD. It was really hard for us to think about leaving that CD behind after just one single. So Capitol decided to bring that with us over there and to re-release it with new artwork and some new music so that it could get out to more people, Capitol being a huge powerhouse in the music business, so that the CD could be introduced to more of the world, along with some new music and some new art.
When we found out that was going to happen, we were just over the moon, ‘cause it was going to be kind of like leaving a child behind. We so wanted the world to hear that CD and it just really hadn’t happened yet. So we just re-released it with four new songs on it, one being “Life in a Northern Town” that we did with Sugarland and Jake Owen, and then two songs that we wrote and then one that our producer, Wayne Kirkpatrick, wrote many years ago. So three studio tracks and then “Life in a Northern Town,” the original one that we did with Sugarland and Jake.
Q: Were those three studio tracks ones you did specifically for the re-release?
A: Yes. Yes. Those were not done before; they weren’t done the first time around. They were just done in the last six months actually. We wrote those two and then recorded three songs – four songs actually and we didn’t put the fourth one on the CD. The fourth one you can get off of iTunes. When you order the CD on iTunes, you get actually 17 tracks, including that one bonus. But on the one in stores, there’s 16 tracks.
So yeah, we did all of that in about the last six months, getting ready for the re-release of that CD. And we’re really, really proud of the songs that we got to add. We wrote some things that we’re really proud of.
Carrie Underwood (Associated Press photo)
This is an extended version of the phone interview I conducted last week with Carrie Underwood from a tour stop in Virginia. The interview took place the day after the Oklahoma native unveiled her wax figure at Madame Toussauds in New York.
While she talked fondly of home and still somewhat bemusedly about her fame and fortune, she laughed at the antics of her rat terrier, Ace, who was “being very vocal” and barked several times during the interview.
Q: I understand that you had a wax figure unveiled yesterday?
A: Yeah, Madame Toussauds decided to add me to their collection of wax statues.
Q: How was the experience of getting that done, because didn’t you have to model for it?
A: It was mainly just a couple of people met us out on the road and like did a lot of measurements, a lot of picture taking. I had to stand still for a long time while they did their thing. (little laugh)
Q: Was that ever a dream of yours when you were getting into music that you would someday be in the wax museum?
A: Well, whenever like I was asked about it, I was kind of like ‘why?’ (laughing) I don’t know, I envision myself being one that people walk through and everybody being like ‘Who is this blond chick. Why is she here?’
Q: You’ve been touring a lot this year – since January or February – and going practically nonstop all year.
A: It’s been wild but it’s been good. And that’s why we keep coming back for more.
Q: How’s it been going on the tour?
A: It’s been great. You know, this has been my first year to attempt the headlining position, and at first I was really nervous, like to the point of almost making myself over it, just because you don’t want to be one of those people that it just doesn’t work, people don’t come, you have to like start canceling show dates. And I was envisioning the worse obviously. But it’s been great; people have been turning up and having a good time. I love it when venues are like oh, we’ve sold out. It’s good, good news keeps happening.
Q: Are you excited to be coming back to Oklahoma?
A: I am. I mean, hometown crowds are the best. They’re the ones that are most excited, especially Oklahoma because it played such a huge role in supporting me throughout “American Idol” and eventually putting me where I am now. So it’s great to go back and kind of pay homage and just have fun with my people.
Q: Have you made it back much this year. You’ve been really busy.
A: I have not. I went home I think once this year and hung out with my mom. My dad was off hunting somewhere so I’ve only seen him like once this year. So shame on me. I don’t know when I would’ve gone home; it’s not like a chose not to.
Q: Are you going to get to spend any time here or just in and out?
A: It’s pretty much in and out. I’ll get to hang out with some family and some friends just after the show. After that, we keep on truckin’.
Q: Are you excited about the new BOK Center because Checotah’s not too far from Tulsa. So you must have been aware of it?
A: Oh, yeah, definitely, Tulsa’s needed some big venue – some big, fun venue – for awhile, so it’s really exciting, I know I’m not the first but I’m definitely one of the new ones to come in and check it out.
Q: You’re latest hit song and video “Just a Dream” focuses on a woman who loses her fiance to war. That had to be pretty emotionally wrenching to work on.
A: Yeah, it was pretty depressing. (laughing) That whole crew that we did the video with, we’ve worked together quite a bit and they’re so much fun. And I had to have a talk with everybody at the beginning of the shoot, and it’s like ‘OK, I have to be really sad, and you guys can’t be fun because that’s not fair.’ I can’t go from like laughing to crying. And the director Roman White, he did such a great job, but I just know him being so goofy that even when he was trying to talk to me very seriously and be very somber, that was almost funnier than him actually being funny. But it was a bummer of a day pretty much. (laughing)
Q: Have you gotten feedback from the song, people thanking you for it or talking about how it captured the experience?
A: Oh, definitely. We get e-mail sent to various people that I work with and they always get passed on to me, just about people who can relate to the song. Or I’ve actually got like dedication requests for me to dedicate the song to somebody, a family that’s in the audience that’s lost somebody. Those are always really tough. That’s when you really start thinking about everything, while you’re singing this song it’s kind of like this is reality for some people. For me, it’s just I’m telling a story, but for these people they’ve lived it.
Q: Tell me about singing with Elvis on the new CD “Elvis Presley Christmas Duets.” You sing “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” with the King.
A: It was very surreal. It’s one of those things that somebody asks you to do something like that, it’s like ‘Oh, yeah, sure.’ And then when you actually get into the studio and you hear Elvis Presley’s voice and you’re harmonizing with it and you’re singing along with it, it’s just very surreal. And we recorded that song in the studio he used to record at quite frequently; that even made it more nostalgic. It was a very good experience and it’s one of those once-in-a-lifetime things.
Q: Were you pleased that they asked and pleased with how it turned out?
A: Oh, definitely it and I think everybody that’s on that album they’re top-notch people. They’re people that are very, very talented. It was just a really great project to be a part of; it’s one of those things that I can let my kids listen to and just be very, very proud of it.
Q: You’ve had a busy year packed into highlights. But was being inducted into the Grand Ole Opry by one of your musical idols just the highlight of the year?
A: That’s the highlight of my life. It’s just one of those things that the Grand Ole Opry is synonymous with country music. No other genre of music has anything like it, and they want you to be part of a family and they want you to just enjoy it and be proud of it. I love playing at the Opry and to be asked by Randy Travis, whom I’ve always loved so much, and then be inducted by Garth Brooks, fellow Oklahoman, that whole process was just magical.
Q: Anything in particular people can expect from the Tulsa show?
A: I don’t want to give away any surprises or anything. I hope people can just expect people to have a good time. I want people to come along and sing along and dance along and just have a great time. And hopefully they can expect me and my band and crew to be on the top of our game. And you can definitely expect to see us having fun with it.
Q: Is it a pretty high-energy show?
A: Yeah, yeah, yeah, but I’m also a big ballad singer, so it’s not all big and loud and fast all the time.
Q: Anything else you wanted to add?
A: I’m just looking forward to coming home. It’s been too long.
From left, Jim Mallon voiced and operated the robot puppet Gypsy, Trace Beaulieu played Crow T. Robot, and Kevin Murphy played Tom Servo on the cult TV show “Mystery Science Theater 3000.” This photo from the 1990s shows the cast members with their puppet alter egos. (Photo courtesy Shout Factory)
A version of this story ran in Wednesday’s Life section of The Oklahoman. Check BAM’s Blog in the coming days for extended Q&As with MST3K creator Joel Hodgson and original cast member Trace Beaulieu.
Set revives MST3K at 20
Creator says lampoon show’s enduring popularity is a mystery
An assortment of thrift store junk, copious amounts of hot glue and inspiration from Elton John’s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” album seem humble materials for creating a cultural phenomenon.
But that’s the stuff comedian Joel Hodgson used to make “Mystery Science Theater 3000″ in 1988. The cult TV show is celebrating its 20th anniversary with a special edition four-DVD box set released Tuesday.
The enduring success of the show, which started as a sort of low-budget lark, comes as a pleasant surprise to its creator.
“When we were doing it, people would go ‘Are you surprised that people like your show and it’s on TV?’ I would always kind of go, no, ’cause that’s why you make a TV show. You do it ’cause you think you have a good idea and you think people will like it.’ So that part I saw, but not 20 years later,” Hodgson, 48, said in a phone interview from Pennsylvania, where he recently moved.
“Every year we sell more DVDs than we did the previous year. It’s kind of like the comic equivalent of Steve Miller Band’s ‘Fly Like an Eagle’; it just keeps getting reinvented and rediscovered by new generations.”
‘A new art form’
“Mystery Science Theater 3000,” MST3K for short, centers on a man who is shot into outer space by evil scientists who force him to watch atrocious B movies in the name of science. To stay sane, the fellow builds a pair of robots – Tom Servo and Crow T. Robot- to keep him company and join him in making fun of the movie.
A prop comic, Hodgson took the idea to Jim Mallon at Minneapolis cable-access station KTMA. Hodgson played the stranded spaceman and crafted puppets to portray the robots. He asked local comedians Trace Beaulieu and J. Elvis “Josh” Weinstein to operate the puppets, voice the robots and play the mad scientists.
During the movie, Hodgson, the robots and a row of theater seats were shown silhouetted against the screen. Hodgson was inspired by a similar silhouette for the song “I’ve Seen That Movie Too” on the “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” album sleeve.
“I think it was kind of like we created a new comic art form,” he said.
Beaulieu, who played Dr. Clayton Forrester and Crow from 1988-96, said the show tapped into the universal tendency to talk back to the TV screen.
“We’d sit two feet from a green screen wall and watch these movies. … And I think out of desperation and wanting to fill the holes, we started riffing on it, talking back to it. So there was never a plan to go ‘OK, we’re gonna take these movies and we’re gonna comment on ‘em and make funny pop culture references,” he said in a phone interview from his Minnesota home.
“It was really an organic growth. An organic growth? That sounds like something that should have been cut off.”
The low-budget show became a local hit. After doing 22 episodes, the group took the concept and clips to the new Comedy Channel.
The network, which became Comedy Central, was home to the series from 1989-96. The group hired more writers, but Weinstein decided to leave the show, with former KTMA staffer Kevin Murphy taking the Tom Servo role.
It was the first of many cast changes the show would weather, including Hodgson’s 1993 departure.
“Of the things that I’m most proud of is that I didn’t just preside over it and say ‘This is a funny joke and that’s not a funny joke.’ I really just said, ‘If you think it’s funny, let’s leave it in,’” he said. “I think that it was kind of that cheap, fast and out-of-control model that allowed us to do what we did.”
After Comedy Central canceled it, MST3K ran on the Sci Fi Channel from 1997-99. The series ended after 11 years and 198 episodes. It spawned a feature film, earned two Emmy nominations and won a Peabody Award. And it gained legions of fans.
“The fans, I think, are largely responsible for the success of the show,” Beaulieu said.
The cast and crew delighted fans by coming together this summer for a packed 20th anniversary panel at Comic-Con in San Diego, which was recorded for the new box set.
“It was just amazing,” Hodgson said. “I think Josh said it best. He just said, ‘It looks like we’re geek royalty.’”