What to do in Oklahoma on Nov. 27, 2011: Check out “The Oklahoma Nutcracker” and the Sand Plum Fairy Tea Party
Today’s featured event:
NORMAN – See the 10th anniversary performance of the Norman Ballet Company’s “The Oklahoma Nutcracker” at 3 p.m. today at Nancy O’Brian Center for the Performing Arts, 1809 Stubbman Ave.
The popular Sand Plum Fairy Tea Party will take place at 1 p.m. today at the Studio Theater and will feature the Sand Plum Fairy and the Nutcracker as special guests, crafts for children and delicious refreshments provided by Althea’s Vault Café & Bakery.
Premiering in 2002, “The Oklahoma Nutcracker” is the company’s unique version of the world’s best-known and loved ballet, “The Nutcracker.” Maintaining “The Nutcracker’s” traditional storyline and Tchaikovsky score, “The Oklahoma Nutcracker” integrates elements of Oklahoma history and natural resources resulting in a unique holiday experience for state families.
The ballet is performed by young dancers from the Norman and Oklahoma City areas, local actors and performers, and professional guest artists. Guest artists this year are Stephanie Foraker Pitts and her partner, Anton Iakovlev, both from the Oklahoma City Ballet. Pitts is a former Norman Ballet Company member and returns to our company to perform as the Sand Plum Fairy.
For information, go to www.normanballetcompany.com.
For more events, go to www.wimgo.com.
Today’s featured event:
Check out the debut of new nerd-pop/folk/rock/hip-hop band The Memepunks at OKC Improv’s 10 p.m. Saturday show at Ghostlight Theatre Club, 3110 N Walker. Information: 343-1570 or www.okcimprov.com.
For more events, go to www.wimgo.com.
Bill Condon, the Oscar-winning writer-director of “Gods and Monsters,” “Chicago” and “Dreamgirls,” took on doubly big task when he joined “The Twilight Saga.”
Condon helmed the two-movie finale based on the hefty fourth and last book on Stephenie Meyer’s supernaturally popular book series. He filmed both “Breaking Dawn – Part 1,” which opened a week ago, and “Part 2,” which is due in theaters Nov. 16, 2012.
With last Friday’s theatrical debut of “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1,” “Twi-hards” finally get the chance to see Bella and her courtly vampire fiancé Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) get married, take their romantic honeymoon and find their new life forever altered when Bella gets pregnant.
The impending birth not only threatens Bella’s life — an emergency vampire conversion will be her only hope for survival — it also endangers the Cullen clan’s pact with the local werewolves of the Quileute Tribe, including Bella’s best pal, Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner).
“Breaking Dawn – Part 1″ notched a $139.5 million first weekend domestically and a worldwide launch of $283.5 million.
At the recent press day for the film in Los Angeles, my fellow journalists and I got a chance to ask some of the actors who have been with the franchise since it started about their experience working with Condon:
“Bill he just made us feel so comfortable to begin with. Because it could’ve been a challenge, playing the same character for five movies and you have a different director each time, and then when the new director comes on board sometimes it can take a second to adjust and get on the same page with him. But Bill was so amazing, and he really just made us feel comfortable and open,” Lautner said in a press conference.
“We would say, ‘I think he would do this’ or ‘I think he would say this’ or ‘I don’t think he would do that.’ And Bill was very open about everything, and then Bill would say the same stuff to us. I’ve respected Bill for a very long time, even before I’ve had the opportunity to work with him or found out I was going to work with him. So I was able to completely trust him. All of us were, which was very important as well.”
Peter Facinelli (Dr. Carlisle Cullen):
“I loved Bill Condon. I thought he was a really interesting choice, an out-of-the-box choice. He was very much an actor’s director, and he really worked with the actors and cared. You could tell that he cared a lot about what we were doing as opposed to just camera angles. Very smart man. Very smart,” Facinelli said in an exclusive one-on-one interview.
Ashley Greene (Alice Cullen):
“I loved working with him. I think he’s just extremely vibrant, like he reminded me of Alice a bit I think in his demeanor. And you could tell he loved beingthere and he loves what he does,” Green said.
“He was very passionate about this story and about the characters as well, and that’s just a really nice thing. I think he had a lot of respect for what we’d previously done, and he came in saying, ‘These are all the ideas I have’ and really I think kind of brought us to a whole new level and developed the series even more than it is and the characters even more than they are. I think he’s gonna do a really beautiful job. I have full in faith in him.”
From Friday’s Weekend Look section of The Oklahoman.
It’s time to meet “The Muppets” again
For his latest cinematic project Jason Segel got the chance to work with one of his Hollywood idols — Kermit the Frog — and bring the famous felt frog and his musical cohorts back to the big screen.
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — For his latest cinematic project, Jason Segel relished the chance to work with one of his Hollywood heroes.
“I sort of modeled my career after Kermit and rest of the Muppets,” Segel said in a recent press conference at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. “I’ve told Kermit, he really was my idol. Kermit’s like the original Tom Hanks when you’re a kid or Jimmy Stewart or something.”
“Just shorter and greener,” added new Muppet Walter.
“I’ve heard you say that, but it’s a very nice thing for you to say. It’s a little scary, but it’s very nice,” replied Kermit the Frog as he shared the table in the hotel’s legendary ballroom with Segel, Walter, Miss Piggy and Amy Adams to talk about their new movie “The Muppets.”
“It’s not easy bein’ green,” the famous felt frog crooned back in 1970, but staging a comeback certainly gets easier when you have a super-fan like Segel, 31, who co-wrote, executive produced and co-stars in “The Muppets.”
While rebooting venerable franchises has become standard Hollywood procedure in recent years, “The Muppets” truly represents a passion project for Segel.
“I grew up with the Muppets. When you’re a kid, Muppets are sort of the entryway into comedy. They lead into like harder comedy like Monty Python and ‘Saturday Night Live.’ The Muppets sort of defined who I wanted to be as a comedian when I was a kid,” said Segel, perhaps best known for his role in the hit sitcom “How I Met Your Mother.”
“It’s been 12 years since the Muppets were last on the big screen, and I wanted to acknowledge that this movie was bringing them back to the forefront of comedy, where they belong. Because they should’ve been making movies this whole time, grand, big dance movies, (with) song-and-dance numbers like the old MGM-style musicals. So, it was about getting the Muppets back together sort of as a metaphor of getting back onto the big screen where they belong.”
In the new film, Segel plays Gary, an affable but immature denizen of Smalltown, USA, whose younger brother Walter happens to be a Muppet and a huge fan of TV’s “The Muppet Show.” When Gary, his longtime girlfriend Mary (Adams) and Walter take a trip to Los Angeles, they make Muppet Studios their first stop.
But they discover that the Muppets have broken up, the theater is crumbling, and villainous oil baron Tex Richman (Chris Cooper) plans to seize the studio and have it razed so he can drill beneath it. Saving the Muppets old stomping grounds will take $10 million, so the trio teams up with Kermit the Frog to reunite Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Gonzo the Great and the rest of the troupe for one last big fundraising show.
“Coming up with the idea of the movie was actually fairly simple. What do the Muppets do best? They put on a show. You know, so I knew ultimately the movie was going to be about putting on a show. That’s the real spirit of the Muppets,” Segel said.
“The first three (Muppet movies) are the ones that I grew up on, and I think there’s something about them that’s lodged in my brain and sense of humor somewhere. ‘The Muppet Movie,’ ‘The Great Muppet Caper,’ and ‘The Muppets Take Manhattan,’ they each influenced it a little bit. I kind of borrowed one of my favorite jokes from ‘The Great Muppet Caper’ in terms of, you know, Walter and I are brothers, and we don’t really feel the need to explain it. Just like in that movie they never explain how Kermit and Fozzie Bear are identical twins. Growing up, I thought that was one of the funniest jokes I’d ever heard.”
Although the Muppets hadn’t been seen on the big screen since 1999’s largely ignored “Muppets from Space,” Segel had no trouble finding fellow Muppets fans to lead the project. His co-writer Nicholas Stoller previously directed Segel in the raunchy 2008 comedy “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” which ended in a lavish puppet musical featuring characters created by The Jim Henson Company. “The Muppets” director James Bobin and music supervisor Bret McKenzie are alumni of the acclaimed TV show “The Flight of the Conchords.”
“In my opinion, ‘Flight of the Conchords’ is very Muppet-y on its own: It’s about two kind of wide-eyed innocents making their way through tough New York who are never mean to anyone. It’s very much how I feel about the Muppets. So it was a good union of styles,” Segel said.
Along with several new song-and-dance numbers, including a show-stopping finale the crew and cast shut down Hollywood Boulevard to shoot, the soundtrack features updated versions of Muppet classics like the infectious “Mah Na Mah Na” and the Oscar-nominated “Rainbow Connection.”
“That’s wonderful. I mean, I never stopped singing that song in the last 12 years since we did our last movie,” Kermit said.
“Well, you sing it so well, Kermie,” added Miss Piggy.
“Well, thank you Piggy. It’s wonderful to have the chance to sort of reintroduce that particular song to our new younger audience. I think it’s still quite relevant,” Kermit replied.
“I think ‘Mah Na Mah Na’ is as relevant today as it was back then. I mean, talk about inspirational lyrics,” Walter deadpanned.
“We wanted a fair amount of nostalgia for our generation who grew up with the Muppets,” Segel added. “But we also had to acknowledge that there’s a generation of kids who are just being introduced to the Muppets. And so if it had just been a nostalgia fest, it really wouldn’t have meant anything to kids who didn’t experience it the first go-round. So we have a really healthy mix of old songs and then new songs written by Bret McKenzie that are in my opinion just right in the spirit of the Muppets.”
Among the new songs McKenzie penned: A sinister rap for Cooper called “Let’s Talk about Me.”
“When Chris Cooper starting rapping and dancing, I privately thought to myself, ‘Wow, I’ve really tricked everyone,’” Segel said. “First of all, I’m working with the Muppets and making the new Muppet movie. And I’ve got an Academy Award-winning villain rapping and dancing. It just seemed like this is the craziest thing that’s ever happened.”
From Friday’s Weekend Look section of The Oklahoman.
Amy Adams carries another “happy” tune with “The Muppets”
After singing and dancing her way through Disney’s 2007 animated/live-action blockbuster “Enchanted,” the three-time Oscar nominee shares the spotlight and musical numbers with the lovable felt puppets.
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — Back in 2007, Amy Adams was belting the “Happy Working Song” in the Disney’s blockbuster animated/live-action mash-up “Enchanted.”
The three-time Oscar nominee is singing “Life’s a Happy Song” and again reconnecting with her musical theater roots in Disney’s revival of “The Muppets.”
“It was my first family film that I did after having a daughter, and it was really, really cool to work with the Muppets. They were a big part of my childhood; every day was sort of me reliving my childhood while I had a child. And that was really, really cool and really special,” said Adams, who has an 18-month-old daughter, Aviana, with her fiance, Darren Le Gallo.
“It’s just going to be fun to introduce her to these guys and to know that I have a relationship with them. I had a blast with these guys. They’re amazing.”
In the reboot of the venerable puppet franchise created by the late Jim Henson, Adams stars as Mary, a perky and popular shop teacher literally from Smalltown, USA. When her boyfriend Gary (Jason Segel, who also co-wrote and executive produced the film) suggests they take a 10th anniversary trip to Los Angeles, Mary starts seeing a long-awaited marriage proposal in her future — until Gary invites along with younger brother Walter, who happens to be a Muppet and a huge fan of TV’s “The Muppet Show.”
Naturally, the first sight Walter wants to see is Muppet Studios, but when the trio gets there, they find that the Muppets have broken up, the theater is crumbling, and sinister oil baron Tex Richman (Oscar winner Chris Cooper) is plotting to seize the studio, tear it down and drill beneath it. Saving the Muppets’ old stage will take $10 million, so they team with Kermit the Frog to reunite Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Gonzo the Great and the rest of the troupe for one last big show.
Since they’re the Muppets, the fundraising show will involved plenty of singing, dancing and wisecracking, and Adams has proven adept at handling all those skills, as well as acting.
“It is my return to singing and dancing and it was a lot of fun,” Adams said, sitting with Segel, Kermit, Walter and Miss Piggy, to whom she deferred any and all diva moments, during a press conference in the famous Beverly Hilton Hotel ballroom.
“I got involved because Jason and Kermit sent me a DVD singing to me and asking me to be in the film. I started crying, and … I was definitely doing the movie.”
“Of course, the tears were different by the end of the film,” Kermit quipped. “They were for a different reason.”
Adams was working as a dinner theater performer in Chanhassen, Minn., when she decided to audition for the 1999 dark comedy “Drop Dead Gorgeous,” which was shooting nearby. During filming, Kirstie Alley encouraged Adams to move to Los Angeles to pursue acting, but she struggled to find work there. Even a role opposite Leonardo DiCaprio in Steven Spielberg’s 2002 fact-based crime romp “Catch Me if You Can” didn’t give her quite the breakthrough she needed.
But Adams earned an Oscar nomination playing a chatty, wide-eyed wife and mother-to-be in the 2005 low-budget drama “Junebug.” The next year, she beat out more than 300 actresses to win the lead role of Giselle, an animated princess who is transported to real-life modern-day New York City, in “Enchanted,” a box-office smash that made her a household name.
Since, Adams has busily racked up credits and acclaim, including two more best supporting actress nominations: for her performance as a naïve young nun in the film version of the Pulitzer Prize winning play “Doubt” and for her portrayal as the tough working-class girlfriend of Boston boxer “Irish” Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg) in “The Fighter.”
She next will be seen opposite Viggo Mortensen and Kristen Stewart in “On the Road,” the cinematic adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s seminal novel, with Philip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix in the 1950s-set drama “The Master” and as Lois Lane to Henry Cavill’s Superman in the reboot “Man of Steel.”
But only “The Muppets” gave her the chance to participate in a big song-and-dance number that closed down Hollywood Boulevard, incorporated hundreds of extras and featured a pack of loveable felt critters.
“You can see from my body, I’m made for dancing,” joked Segel. “I’ve very lithe and agile, and I was happy to be able to help Amy sort of get her footing.”
“I really needed Jason,” Adams deadpanned. “We actually learned that dance in about an hour on the same day we shot it, so I’m telling you Jason is actually much more talented that he gives himself credit for. … He only broke a couple of ribs and he didn’t drop me. But he did I think lift my skirt up on accident once.”
“Accident,” Segel emphasized.
“That was embarrassing,” Adams said. “But it was a lot of fun.”
Various artists “The Muppets Original Soundtrack” (Walt Disney Records)
The Muppets have returned to put on another show, so “it’s time to play the music” again.
As hoped, the soundtrack to the movie “The Muppets” offers a “sensational, inspirational, celebrational, Muppetational” mix of spirited new material and respectfully refurbished classics that will delight both longtime devotees and new fans of the late Jim Henson’s lovable felt creations. The soundtrack alternates snippets of movie dialogue with songs from the film.
Bret McKenzie, half of the musical-comedy duo Flight of the Conchords, served as music supervisor on the film and wrote or co-wrote several new songs, including the jolly theme “Life’s a Happy Song” and its reprise. With the two tracks, the movie’s stars Jason Segel, Amy Adams and Chris Cooper, along with indie rock star Feist, actor/vaudevillian Mickey Rooney and a horde of Muppets belt through a cheeky first-rate revival of an old-school MGM musical.
McKenzie’s off-kilter sense of humor proves an ideal fit for the Muppets, whether he allows Adams and Miss Piggy to jointly declare their independence with the disco-esque duet “Me Party” or elevates piano balladry to new heights of silliness with the existential ode “Man or Muppet,” featuring Segel and new Muppet character Walter. For Cooper’s evil oil baron, McKenzie and Ali Dee Theodore penned “Let’s Talk about Me,” an over-the-top rap with operatic flourishes.
Singer/songwriter/whistler Andrew Bird, formerly of the Squirrel Nut Zippers, wrote and performed the bouncy instrumental “The Whistling Caruso” for Walter. Disney songwriters Jeannie Lurie, Aris Archontis, Chen Neeman bring earnest emotion to the bittersweet ballad “Pictures in My Head.”
Kermit the Frog’s simple Oscar-nominated ballad-and-voice anthem “Rainbow Connection” becomes a joyous group number, while the first new recording of “The Muppet Show Theme” features an appearance by freak-folk favorite Joanna Newsom.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Muppet show without a few ridiculous renditions of popular songs. Camillia and The Chickens’ contribute a clucking good version of Cee Lo Green’s familiar smash “Forget You,” while Rowlf, Beaker, Link Hogthrob and Sam the Eagle hilariously harmonize on a barbershop quartet rendition of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”
Even the inclusion of Starship’s vastly overused ‘80s hit “We Built This City” is more than offset by another romp through the infectious Muppet classic “Mah Na Mah Na.”
From Friday’s Weekend Look section of The Oklahoman.
Holiday movie guide 2011
Hollywood has prepared a diverse cinematic menu of awards contenders, family-friendly adventures and potential blockbusters that should keep film fans sated from now until Christmas.
Swap the pumpkin pie for popcorn: The holiday movie season is underway.
In keeping with its annual custom, Hollywood has prepared a cinematic spread of awards contenders, family-friendly adventures and potential blockbusters that should keep film fans sated from now until Christmas.
Theaters started dishing up the first serving of movie goodness Wednesday, but a variety of courses are on the movie menu for the season.
Just be sure to check local listings before heading to a multiplex since movie studios love to rearrange release dates.
It’s time for a new generation to meet “The Muppets,” with a comeback film that reunites Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear and the rest of the lovably witty felt friends in an effort to save Muppet Studios from destruction at the hands of a villainous oil baron (Chris Cooper). Jason Segel (who also co-writes and produces) and Amy Adams lend their song-and-dance skills to the new movie, which co-stars a new Muppet named Walter.
Oscar-winning director Martin Scorsese makes his 3-D filmmaking debut with “Hugo,” based on Brian Selznick’s much-admired 2007 junior novel, “The Invention of Hugo Cabret.” Set in the 1930s, the family-friendly mystery stars Asa Butterfield (“The Boy in the Striped Pajamas”), along with Jude Law, Emily Mortimer, Christopher Lee, Ben Kingsley, Sacha Baron Cohen and Chloe Moretz, in the tale of an orphan boy who lives in the walls of a Paris train station.
Also in 3-D, James McAvoy, Hugh Laurie and Jim Broadbent headline the star-studded cast who gift their voices to the holiday romp “Arthur Christmas,” the latest project from Aardman Animations, the studio behind Wallace and Gromit. On Christmas night at the North Pole, the reigning Santa’s bumbling son Arthur (McAvoy) rediscovers the spirit of the season when he must embark on an urgent mission.
Set in Hawaii, “The Descendants” stars George Clooney as a wealthy land baron but distant husband and father who must reevaluate his life after his wife is badly injured in a boating accident off Waikiki. The latest comedic drama from Oscar-winning writer-director Alexander Payne (“Sideways”), the film is getting significant awards buzz.
In the romantic drama “Like Crazy,” a British college student (Felicity Jones) studying stateside falls for an American classmate (Anton Yelchin), but the couple must cope with an agonizing separation when she violates the terms of her visa and is banned from the United States.
In “My Week With Marilyn,” Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne), a young assistant on the 1957 film “The Prince and the Showgirl,” documents his experiences on the set of the movie that famously united Sir Laurence Olivier (Kenneth Branagh) and Marilyn Monroe (Michelle Williams).
In “Take Shelter,” Michael Shannon, who earned an Oscar nomination for 2008’s “Revolutionary Road” and will play Superman baddie General Zod in 2013’s “Man of Steel,” stars as a young husband and father who is haunted by a series of apocalyptic visions that leave him unsure whether to protect his family from a coming catastrophe or from him.
Oscar-winning director Pedro Almodovar (“Talk to Her”) adapts Thierry Jonquet’s 1995 novel “Mygale (Tarantula)” with “The Skin I Live In,” about a grieving, unscrupulous and brilliant plastic surgeon (Antonio Banderas) who invents a type of durable synthetic skin that he tests on a mysterious woman.
The legend Butch Cassidy gets another cinematic treatment with “Blackthorn,” showing Thursday-Dec. 4 at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art. In the new film, Cassidy (Sam Shepard) survived his 1908 standoff with the Bolivian military and has been living quietly in an isolated Bolivian village under the name of James Blackthorn. Longing to see his family again, Cassidy sets out for the United States, but his plan is derailed when he crosses paths with a ruthless young outlaw (Eduardo Noriega).
With the box-office success of 2010’s “Valentine’s Day,” it’s no surprise that director Garry Marshall is celebrating “New Year’s Eve” with another star-studded ensemble flick, this time about several couples and singles whose love lives intersect in New York on the titular holiday. The partial guest list for this cinematic New Year’s Eve soiree features Robert De Niro, Ashton Kutcher, Sarah Jessica Parker, Hilary Swank, Zac Efron, Katherine Heigl, Jessica Biel and Michelle Pfeiffer.
“The Sitter,” the latest comedy from helmer David Gordon Green (“Pineapple Express”), offers a gender-switched version of the 1987 box-office hit “Adventures in Babysitting.” Jonah Hill stars as a college student who has been suspended for the semester who experiences a crazy night when he gets talked into keeping the peculiar trio of children who live next door to his mom.
Controversial writer-director Lars von Trier (“Breaking the Waves”) contemplates the end of the world with his “psychological disaster film” “Melancholia,” showing Dec. 8-11 at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art. Kirsten Dunst earned the best actress prize at the Cannes Film Festival for her performance as Justine, a bride trying to cope with worsening depression just as a mysterious planet sets a collision course with Earth.
From Friday’s Weekend Look section of The Oklahoman.
“DreamWorks Dragons: Gift of the Night Fury” Blu-ray + DVD
DreamWorks Animation continues its tradition of revisiting its top franchises at various holidays, returning to the Viking hamlet of Berk for a Christmasy celebration with “Gift of the Night Fury” and delving deeper into the “Book of Dragons” with its new short film double pack.
The studio’s 2010 Oscar-nominated animated feature “How to Train Your Dragon” still flies high on my list of favorite movies of the past year, and the 22-minute seasonal tale “Gift of the Night Fury” gives another chance to experience the charming characters, engaging storytelling and exhilarating flying scenes of the film adaptation of Cressida Cowell’s book series.
As the title indicates, “Gift of the Night Fury” owes no small thematic debt to O. Henry’s classic tale “The Gift of the Magi,” as resourceful teen Hiccup (voice of Jay Baruchel) and the other Viking denizens of Berk prepare to celebrate their first Snoggletog, the community’s winter holiday, since making peace with the local dragon population.
But just as the Christmas-like merriment reaches its apex, all the dragons inexplicably fly away, except for Hiccup’s sleek buddy Toothless, whose damaged tail prevents him from soaring without his human pal’s help. The kind of high-quality short that alleviates the long wait for the 2014 full-length sequel, the new adventure packs plenty of holiday warm fuzzies, good humor and animated cuteness into its short runtime.
“Book of Dragons” is less a fully formed story than a light-hearted opportunity to expand on one of the key scenes of “How to Train Your Dragon,” in which Hiccup skims through his people’s encyclopedic record of the various types of the giant reptiles. The different varieties of dragons add so much visual and narrative interest, and the 18-minute short explores the seven classes of the fearsome creatures with intriguing detail and silly Looney Tunes-esque humor.
The Blu-ray offers an interactive version of the Book of Dragons, along with an animators’ commentary. The DVD-ROM comes with guidelines for creating several craft projects such as a replica Book of Dragons, Snoggletog party favors and paper dragons.
Other bonus features include “Gobber’s Training Secrets” vignettes, deleted scenes and a preview of the DreamWorks Dragons online video game. Each double pack comes with a code that grants access to the game.
From Friday’s Weekend Look section of The Oklahoman.
Jason Boland plans holiday homecoming with Thanksgiving weekend shows
The frontman and primary songwriter for red dirt mainstays Jason Boland & the Stragglers, who was born and bred in Harrah, will play Friday at Cain’s Ballroom in Tulsa and Saturday at the Wormy Dog Saloon in Bricktown.
For Jason Boland, playing new music live isn’t just a thrill.
“That is THE thrill,” said the frontman and primary songwriter for red dirt mainstays Jason Boland & the Stragglers.
“You hope people show up and have a good time, but when you’re doing the songs that you’ve done a million times — and so many of those songs we still love doing — those songs that you know you’re gonna hear, those are for the fans,” he added in a recent phone interview from his adopted hometown of Austin, Texas.
“There are a lot of bands that would probably choose to go out there and keep it as new as they could and only throw (in) a couple songs that people knew. But I think we’ve always tried to keep the baby and the bathwater.”
These days, the Harrah native and his bandmates are mixing older favorites like “Backslider Blues,” “Bourbon Legend” and “Comal County Blue” with new songs from their sixth studio album, “Rancho Alto,” which debuted in October.
That means Boland and his cohorts might just add “Down Here in the Hole,” a toe-tapping story song about on a miner stuck in a cave-in; “Pushing Luck,” a bluesy rabble-rouser about a man living outside the law in order to take care of his family; or “Woody’s Road,” an ode to Woody Guthrie penned by the late, great Bob Childers, to the musical menu for his annual Thanksgiving weekend shows.
In what has become a band tradition, Boland and the Stragglers will play Friday night at Cain’s Ballroom in Tulsa and Saturday at the Wormy Dog Saloon in Bricktown. After feasting through Thanksgiving, he expects the home state crowds will be “well-fed, a little cooped up, but ready to have a good time.”
“It’s always great, the homecomings and getting to see your family, especially when you travel so much. That’s not just us, that’s anybody who travels, you definitely want to be there and have that safe, home feeling around the holidays,” Boland said. “So it’s great to have that, and then I get the feeling that a lot of people enjoy spending time with their family, eating and having a wholesome good time and then like to let off a little steam later on in the evening.”
Long renowned for their raucous live shows, Boland and the Stragglers — multi-instrumentalist Roger Ray, fiddler Jeremy Watkins, bassist Grant Tracy and drummer Brad Rice — also have been building steam on the charts the past few years. Their previous album, “Comal County Blue,” was one of 2008’s most successful independent country releases, debuting at No. 30 on the Billboard country albums chart.
“Rancho Alto” bowed at No. 26 on the same list, plus lead-off single “Mary Ellen’s Greenhouse” reached No. 1 on the Texas Music Chart. But the singer-songwriter doesn’t need chart success to know that many music lovers crave old-school country music.
“I just know they want to hear that. Touring around the country and shaking their hands every night, you know people want that,” he said.
Besides his Thanksgiving weekend concerts, Boland, who turns 37 Wednesday, is planning a couple more Oklahoma shows before the end of the year. He and Turnpike Troubadours frontman Evan Felker will bring their acoustic mini-tour to the Wormy Dog on Dec. 7, and Boland and the Stragglers plan to ring in 2012 with a New Year’s Eve show at the Tumbleweed Dancehall in Stillwater.
Since forming his band in 1998 in Stillwater, Boland’s love for the road has never faded.
“I think everybody got into this because they enjoyed the traveling and enjoyed playing different places and seeing different places. For sure, eating at different places,” he said with a laugh.
“Just like anything, there’s days you get tired of touring or tired of doing whatever you’re doing. But we’re so blessed to still be doing what we love to do, which I always just go back to the (Willie Nelson) song ‘On the Road Again’: ‘Out there making music with your friends.’ That one sums it up pretty good for most of the people I know.”
Jason Boland & the Stragglers
When: 8 p.m. Friday. Doors open at 7 p.m.
Where: Cain’s Ballroom, 423 N Main, Tulsa.
When: 10 p.m. Saturday. Doors open at 6 p.m.
Where: Wormy Dog Saloon, 311 E Sheridan.
Information: 601-6276 or www.wormydog.com.
From Friday’s Weekend Look section of The Oklahoman.
New rinks offer more opportunities for holiday skating
On Friday (today), downtown Oklahoma City will mark the officially opening of the new permanent Devon Ice Rink in the renovated Myriad Botanical Gardens, while Midwest City and Edmond will for the first time offer outdoor skating rinks as part of their seasonal celebrations.
Metro area ice skaters will have more opportunities to glide outside this holiday season.
On Friday (today), downtown Oklahoma City will mark the official opening of the new permanent Devon Ice Rink in the renovated Myriad Botanical Gardens, while Midwest City and Edmond will for the first time offer outdoor skating rinks as part of their seasonal celebrations.
The signature attraction of this year’s Downtown in December, the Devon Ice Rink is expected to draw at least 30,000 skater during the holidays. Hours are noon to midnight Fridays and Saturdays and noon to 10 p.m. Thursdays-Sundays. Admission with skate rental is $10; for those who bring their own skates, the cost is $7.
On Friday nights, a live disc jockey will heat up the ice with popular and holiday hits, while special guests and local radio personalities will make appearances Saturday nights.
While the other Downtown in December activities will end on New Year’s Day, Downtown Oklahoma City Inc. spokeswoman Gentry McKeown said the rink will remain open through Feb. 4. For more information, go to www.downtownindecember.com.
A new outdoor rink in the Town Center Plaza, Chick-fil-A at Midwest City presents Holiday Ice will open at noon Friday, with special opening-day hours through 10 p.m.
The synthetic ice rink will be open daily through Jan. 8 but closed on Christmas. Hours are 4 to 9 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays, 4 to 10 p.m. Fridays, noon to 10 p.m. Saturdays and noon to 9 p.m. Sundays.
Admission is $6 for adults, $5 for military members with ID and $3 for children ages 5 and younger and those who bring their own skates. For more information, call 739-1293.
Express Ice’s Edmond Outdoor Ice Rink also will open at noon Friday in the Festival Market Place, 30 W First Street. Along with the rink, the site will offer free parking, concessions, a pavilion for spectators, indoor restrooms, WiFi Internet and free public transportation in Edmond and to and from Oklahoma City.
Hours are noon to 10 p.m. daily, except Christmas Eve, when the rink will close at 5 p.m., and New Year’s Eve, when it will close at 11 p.m. The rink will be open through Jan. 3.
Admission is $8 for adults, $7 for military members, $5 for children 5 and younger and those providing their own skates.
For more information, go to www.expressice.com.