A version of this story appears in Friday’s Weekend Look section of The Oklahoman.
Oklahoma artists make memorable music in 2012
Underground heroes, international icons and emerging upstarts all managed to make indelible statements last year on the Sooner State music scene.
Underground heroes, international icons and emerging upstarts all managed to make memorable statements in the Oklahoma music arena in 2012.
The 100th anniversary of Woody Guthrie’s birth turned discerning ears toward Okemah, while the emergence of singer-songwriter John Fullbright kept them there.
Garth Brooks was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame one month and threw his enthusiastic support behind former bandmate Tom Skinner’s self-titled album release the next.
On the national scene, Sooner State-born and bred hitmakers Carrie Underwood and All-American Rejects released LPs that showed marked maturation, while local singer-songwriters Camille Harp and John Calvin left me yearning for more with excellent self-released EPs.
Oklahomans were involved in one of the biggest and best compilation albums of the year, as Tishomingo resident Miranda Lambert and her Pistol Annies contributed a song to the T Bone Burnett-produced soundtrack “The Hunger Games: Songs from District 12 and Beyond.” Sooner State musicians also part of one of the most star-studded and stellar tribute albums of 2012, as Vince Gill, Leon Russell and Ronnie Dunn helped Jamey Johnson with his “Living for a Song: A Tribute to Hank Cochran.”
Oklahoma music was just so good in 2012 that it was tough for me to limit my list of top LPs to just 10, so check out the honorable mentions at the bottom of the list:
1. Audra Mae and the Almighty Sound “Audra Mae and the Almighty Sound” (SideOneDummy Records): The sophomore LP from the Putnam City High School graduate and her aptly named backing band has stayed on my personal playlist since its release way back in February, and I’ll probably keep the swaggering romp “Little Red Wagon,” the toasty-warm ballad “Old Italian Love Songs,” the foot-stomping rave-up “Jebediah Moonshine’s Friday Night Shack Party” and more in rotation for another 11 months and beyond. The Oklahoma-born and bred chanteuse wasn’t bragging in the album’s opening number: She IS “The Real Thing.”
2. Ray Wylie Hubbard “The Grifter’s Hymnal” (Bordello Records): The 66-year-old Oklahoma-Texas music icon, who was born in Soper, throws down with a raw rock ‘n’ roll album that is by turns rootsy, bluesy and twangy but always uninhibited, a little bit messy and a whole lot ornery. The album opens with “Coricidin Bottle,” a blazing romp that boasts wicked-smart lyrics like “I got a coricidin bottle that I use as slide/And a woman sweet as a Tootsie Roll/When she kissing and licking and cussing and a grindin’/Shakes the mortal coil round my amaranthine soul,” and stays both rowdy or intelligent for a 45 solid minutes. Now that’s rock ‘n’ roll.
3. David Byrne and St. Vincent “Love This Giant” (4AD): We already knew that the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer best known for fronting the Talking Heads and the Tulsa-born singer/songwriter/guitarist also known as Annie Clark were individually capable of creating artful pop-rock. But who knew the divergent experimentalists would make such cohesive collaborators, too? Their deliciously brassy duet album goes down like the musical version of a black and tan, with a full serving of Byrne’s coolly creative world music wanderings and a full serving of St. Vincent’s darkly cerebral guitar rock layered in perfect balance. And all those intricate horns are like the tasty foam topping this heady sonic brew.
4. John Fullbright “From the Ground Up” (Blue Dirt Records/Thirty Tigers): When the Grammy nominees for Best Americana Album were revealed last month, it quickly became clear that one of these things was not like the others. The Okemah-area singer-songwriter and his Kickstarter-funded studio debut will compete against Bonnie Raitt’s “Slipstream,” Mumford & Sons’ “Babel,” The Avett Brothers’ “The Carpenter” and the self-titled debut from The Lumineers also nominated for the Best New Artist Grammy, when the golden gramophones are handed out in February. If we’re judging on musical merits alone, though, I wouldn’t call him an underdog. From the fire-and-brimstone opener “Gawd Above” to the tender piano ballad closer “Song for a Child,” the authentic album Fullbright built proves that he deserves his shot at Grammy glory.
5. JD McPherson “Signs & Signifiers” (Rounder Records rerelease): The Broken Arrow singer-songwriter got a well-warranted opportunity last year to take his free-wheeling brand of retro rock nationwide when Rounder rereleased his celebrated 2010 indie debut. Recorded with vintage microphones into an old 1960’s Berlant 1/4-inch tape machine, under the tutelage of producer/bassist/studio owner Jimmy Sutton, McPherson’s fun fusion of 1950s-inspired rock, old-school R&B and rockabilly still sounds as fresh and classic as ever. Plus, the rerelease gave the Talihina-bred musician the richly deserved chance to reach a national audience, top the Billboard Heatseekers Albums chart and appear as the musical guest on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” “The Late Show with David Letterman” and “Conan.”
6. The Time Jumpers “The Time Jumpers” (Rounder Records): The 11-piece Western swing supergroup featuring Norman-born and Oklahoma City-bred Country Music Hall of Famer Vince Gill and many of Nashville’s top session players doesn’t just cover old Bob Wills songs on its studio debut. which garnered a Grammy nomination for Best Country Album. Gill, who only officially joined the group in 2010, wrote or co-wrote five of the album’s nine superb original tracks, along with contributing his considerable chops as a singer and guitarist. His heartbreaker “Three Sides to Every Story,” which has all the hallmarks of an instant country classic.
7. Wanda Jackson “Unfinished Business” (Sugar Hill Records): It’s remarkable enough that the Oklahoma City-based Queen of Rockabilly is still belting in that distinctive voice, touring internationally and recording new albums at the age of 75. But it’s even more impressive that the Maud native continues to push herself musically. In 2011, the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer released the barnburner comeback album “The Party Ain’t Over,” produced by respected rocker Jack White, and in 2012, she teamed with acclaimed alt-country singer/songwriter/producer Justin Townes Earle for the fittingly titled “Unfinished Business,” a completely different sonic experience that still sounds just like her. While “The Party Ain’t Over” celebrated Jackson’s rock ‘n’ roll trailblazing with raucous horns, scorching electric guitars and forays into neo-soul, funk and calypso, Jackson and Earle (son of wild-card Texas singer-songwriter Steve Earle) firmly planted their collaboration in her country, rockabilly and gospel roots. Here’s hoping Jackson’s 31st studio album won’t be her last because I can’t wait to hear who she teams with and what they come up with next.
8. Tom Skinner “Tom Skinner” (598 Recordings): Take Garth Brooks’ word for it: The eponymous album from red dirt elder statesman is a “very, VERY special gift” indeed, a warm and inviting showcase for the Bristow native’s vibrant storytelling and convivial voice. Although the Tulsa singer-songwriter’s name often turns up in album credits for the likes of the Red Dirt Rangers, The Great Divide and The Departed, Skinner has rarely recorded himself, preferring the energy of playing live. With his stalwart pal Mike McClure, the frontman of The Great Divide and co-founder of 598 Recordings, and the esteemed Joe Hardy, who has worked with the Georgia Satellites, Steve Earle and ZZ Top, co-producing, Skinner’s eponymous album has the laidback, cozy vibe of a great living room show.
9. Karen Dalton “1966” (Delmore Recordings): From concerts to conferences, all kinds of festivities in 2012 commemorated what would have been folk icon Woody Guthrie’s 100th birthday. In contrast, the 75th birthday of folk enigma Karen Dalton, another Sooner State voice silenced too soon, passed with little fanfare last year beyond the release of this collection of impromptu, previously unheard tracks of the Enid-bred singer/musician and her then-husband, guitarist Richard Tucker, rehearsing for a gig at their remote, primitive cabin near Summerville, Colo. With her strange, goose-bump-inducing croon and natural gift as a song interpreter, it’s a shame Dalton — who like Guthrie died at the relatively young age of 55 in New York after spending much of her troubled life rambling and making music — is hardly known outside Bob Dylan’s reference to her in his 2004 biography “Chronicles: Volume One.” Bob the Bard’s praise that “Karen had a voice like Billie Holiday’s and played the guitar like Jimmy Reed” is right on the mark, and her cover of “God Bless the Child” is probably the only one that can hold a candle to Lady Day’s original.
10. Shiny Toy Guns “III” (Five Seven Music): The highly anticipated return of vocalist Carah Faye Charnow , whose crystalline pipes helped propel the Shinys to a 2007 Best Electronic/Dance Album Grammy nomination for “We Are Pilots,” turned out to be more than just a reunion. It was a full-blown revitalization for the electro-pop band, which bassist/synth player Jeremy Dawson and singer/guitarist Chad Petree, who hail from Shawnee, founded back in 2001. The rhythms on “III” smoothly shift from dreamy to driving and back again, and It’s a testament to the album’s overall strength that I wind up with a new favorite track every time I listen to it.
Honorable mentions: Jimmy LaFave “Depending on the Distance” (Music Road Records); The Departed “Adventus” (Underground Sound/Thirty Tigers); Chad Sullins and the Last Call Coalition “Incommunicado” (Smith Music Group); Parker Millsap and Michael Rose “Palisade” (self released); and K.C. Clifford “The Tag Hollow Sessions” (Free Skipper Records).
What to do in Oklahoma on Dec. 14, 2012: Hear All-American Rejects, Shiny Toy Guns and more at the Diamond Ballroom
Today’s featured event:
Hear All-American Rejects, Shiny Toy Guns and At Long Last – three bands with deep Oklahoma roots that recently released new albums – at 7 tonight at the Diamond Ballroom, 8001 S Eastern.
Doors open at 6 p.m. Outasight and Chris Richardson also are on the bill.
“We’re really excited to be playing that show,” Rejects’ lead singer, lyricist and bass guitarist Tyson Ritter recently told The Oklahoman Entertainment Editor Gene Triplett.
“And there’s no place like home for the holidays. Our folks haven’t seen us at all this year … A month at home is like a year for me. So I’ll feel pretty good (when it’s time to hit the road again).”
To read more of Gene’s new feature on the Rejects, click here.
For more information, go to www.diamondballroom.net.
For more events, go to www.wimgo.com.
Pop-rockers All-American Rejects, who have Stillwater roots, were the latest music artists to perform and sit down for a chat in the MLB Fan Cave. To see their performance and interview clips, click here.
At MLBFanCave.com, new videos, photos and blogs featuring Major League Baseball’s biggest stars along with celebrities, musical acts and other guests are posted every day, allowing fans to interact with the game in an entirely new way. The MLB Fan Cave, located at 4th Street and Broadway in the heart of New York City’s Greenwich Village, is a first-of-its-kind space mixing baseball with music, popular culture, media, interactive technology and art.
The Rejects, who are due to play a home state show Dec. 14 at Oklahoma City’s Diamond Ballroom, played “Walk Over Me” from their 2012 album “Kids in the Street,” in the MLB Fan Cave. They also talked about their tour and tried to define coolness. Check out the video about the thrill of throwing out the first pitch at a Yankees game to hear them chat a bit about maintaining their Oklahoma roots and raising money for various charities, including OKC-based Feed the Children.
Synthpop/indie rock band Shiny Toy Guns, which has Oklahoma roots, recently released the official video for “Fading Listening, from their new album “III.”
It is the first album for the band since reuniting with original vocalist Carah Faye Charnow. The Grammy-nominated band includes bassist/synth player Jeremy Dawson and singer/guitarist Chad Petree, who grew up in Shawnee.
The Grammy-nominated band will share the bill with the All-American Rejects, which also have Sooner State ties, at a show Dec. 14 at the Diamond Ballroom. For more information, go to www.diamondballroom.net.
Wednesday Video Spotlight: All-American Rejects release “Heartbeat Slowing Down” lyric video & “Flatline” EP, plan Dec. 14 Oklahoma City show
The All-American Rejects, who have Stillwater roots, have released a lyric video for “Heartbeat Slowing Down,” from their 2012 album “Kids in the Street.”
The Rejects also released Tuesday an EP titled “Flatline” that features a new version of “Heartbeat Slowing Down” as well as remixes of two other AAR songs by Skrillex, Jeff Bhasker and Tyler Johnson.
In addition, the band is planning a home state show Dec. 14 at the Diamond Ballroom. The lineup for KJ103’s Jingle Jam 2012 also will feature Shiny Toy Guns, Outasight, At Long Last, and Chris Richardson. For more information, go to www.diamondballroom.net.
Since forming in Stillwater, in 1999, The All-American Rejects have released four studio albums: their platinum self-titled debut, featuring the breakthrough hit “Swing Swing,” followed by 2005′s double-platinum “Move Along,” which spawned the Top 10 hits “It Ends Tonight,” “Dirty Little Secret,” and “Move Along,” as well as the gold-certified “When The World Comes Down,” featuring the 4-million seller “Gives You Hell,” and their latest, “Kids in the Street.”
The All-American Rejects, which includes lead singer, lyricist, and bassist Tyson Ritter, guitarist Nick Wheeler, rhythm guitarist Mike Kennerty and drummer Chris Gaylor, have sold more than 4 million albums and 16 million singles worldwide.
The All-American Rejects, who have Stillwater roots, celebrated a decade together today by releasing a preview of the video for “Heartbeat Slowing Down,” the band’s latest single from their 2012 album “Kids in the Street.”
“It’s officially been 10yrs since the birth of AAR, so here’s to being kids in the street! Wait til you see what’s next…” the band posted today on their official Facebook page.
To hear the full version of “Heartbeat Slowing Down” via Soundcloud, click here.
October is Adopt-A-Shelter-Dog Month, and The All-American Rejects guitarist Nick Wheeler, who hails from Stillwater, is partnering with Petfinder.com to encourage people to consider making a shelter doggie their forever pet.
Wheeler adopted his dog, Dexter, from a shelter in 2009. The dog has become the band’s unofficial fifth member and mascot. To read Wheeler and Dex’s adoption story, click here.
In honor of Adopt-A-Shelter-Dog Month, Petfinder.com is offering its All-American Rejects Sweepstakes. Fans can enter on www.facebook.com/Petfinder for a chance to win a call from Wheeler, a signed photo of him and Dex and a signed copy of AAR’s new album, “Kids In the Street.”
Check out this video of Wheeler and Dex spending a day off together:
Members of the All-American Rejects and football star Brandon Weeden took to Twitter today to express their support and sympathy for their former hometown of Stillwater after news spread of a teenager who died of a self-inflicted gunshot this morning at Stillwater Junior High School.
“My heart is with those hurt today at the Stillwater Junior High. So sad. My hometown is in my thoughts today,” tweeted Tyson Ritter (@tysonritter), frontman of rock band the All-American Rejects, which started in Stillwater in 1999.
Ritter’s bandmate, AAR guitarist (@nickolaswheeler), tweeted: “It’s a sad day in Stillwater I hear…my thoughts are with home today.”
Brandon Weeden, the former Oklahoma State University quarterback who is now the starting QB for the Cleveland Browns, tweeted (@bweeden3): “My thoughts and prayers are with the students and families involved in the shooting at Stillwater Junior High.”
Cade Poulos, 13, died of a self-inflicted gunshot at 7:50 a.m. today in a crowded hallway at Stillwater Junior High, reports The Oklahoman‘s Juliana Keeping.
There was no suicide note, Stillwater police Capt. Randy Dickerson said. It remained unclear tonight why the student took his own life.
Our thoughts also are with Cade’s family, friends and schoolmates, as well as with the whole Stillwater community.
Wednesday Video Spotlight: Carrie Underwood, All-American Rejects, OneRepublic play “MDA Show of Strength”
Carrie Underwood, who hails from Checotah; the All-American Rejects, who have Stillwater roots; and OneRepublic, the band fronted by Tulsa native Ryan Tedder, were among the performers for this year’s Muscular Dystrophy Association’s Labor Day weekend entertainment special, “MDA Show of Strength.”
A three-hour primetime broadcast special, “MDA Show of Strength” aired Sunday on almost 150 television stations across the country, including Oklahoma City’s CW station KOCB-TV.
The show also included performances and celebrity appearances by Pitbull, Will.i.am, Carole King, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, B.o.B, Brandy, Luke Bryan, Gavin DeGraw, Hot Chelle Rae, Karmin, Alanis Morissette, Eva Simons, Paula Abdul, Max Adler, Jann Carl, Diana DeGarmo, Lou Ferrigno, Benji Madden, Joel Madden, Jesse McCartney, Tim McGraw, The Miz, Nancy O’Dell, Khloe Kardashian Odom, Alison Sweeney, Ace Young and more.
Carrie Underwood, All-American Rejects, OneRepublic and many more to perform on today’s MDA Labor Day TV special
Carrie Underwood, who hails from Checotah; the All-American Rejects, who have Stillwater roots; and OneRepublic, the band fronted by Tulsa native Ryan Tedder, are among the performers set for this year’s Muscular Dystrophy Association’s Labor Day weekend entertainment special, now called “MDA Show of Strength.”
The show, featuring more than a dozen of today’s top entertainers, also will include inspirational “stories of strength” about families affected by muscular dystrophy and related diseases.
“MDA Show of Strength,” a three-hour primetime broadcast special, will air at 7 tonight. The show will include performances and celebrity appearances from Hollywood, Nashville and New York.
The show will be broadcast over MDA’s “Love Network” of almost 150 television stations across the country, including Oklahoma City’s CW station KOCB-TV. It also will be streamed from mda.org. Local cutaways in each market will feature area families, sponsors and MDA service programs. For a list of stations, visit mda.org/showofstrength/love-network.
“We couldn’t be more excited about the show and the incredible talent we have lined up this year,” said MDA Interim President Valerie Cwik, M.D., in the news release. “MDA is in business to save and enhance lives. Our show will both entertain and urge the American public to answer the call to support critically important research and services for more than a million Americans affected by neuromuscular diseases.”
Along with Underwood, Pitbull, Will.i.am and Carole King are set to headline the show. Plus, the following stars also are scheduled to appear: Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, B.o.B, Brandy, Luke Bryan, Gavin DeGraw, Hot Chelle Rae, Karmin, Alanis Morissette, Eva Simons, Paula Abdul, Max Adler, Jann Carl, Diana DeGarmo, Lou Ferrigno, Benji Madden, Joel Madden, Jesse McCartney, Tim McGraw, The Miz, Nancy O’Dell, Khloe Kardashian Odom, Alison Sweeney, Ace Young and more.
“This year’s show gives everyone involved a unique opportunity,” said “MDA Show of Strength” Executive Producer RAC Clark in the release. “We have a chance to tell a series of compelling stories about MDA families while delivering quality entertainment. In doing so, we can raise public awareness of MDA’s long-standing mission of help for today and hope for tomorrow.”
Clark is a longtime executive producer of the Academy of Country Music Awards and the son of the late Dick Clark.
“RAC has a history and knack for making shows and events successful, and ‘MDA Show of Strength’ will benefit from his talent,” said Pete Fisher, vice president and general manager of the Grand Ole Opry, in the release. “MDA is in good hands with RAC. He’s done a phenomenal job with the ACM Awards and has helped continue country music’s growth and popularity. He’s connected with the biggest names in the business.”
Through the years, MDA’s iconic fundraising show has presented some of TV’s most memorable moments. What started as a 21-1/2-hour Labor Day weekend telethon was shortened to six hours in 2011 in response to changing television viewing habits.
“The broadcasting and entertainment industries have experienced dramatic change; as a result, our show has changed with it,” said MDA Executive Vice President of Business Development Kevin Moran, in the release. “But our cause remains the same and our commitment to our families is unwavering. MDA has assembled an outstanding team focused on putting together a jam-packed, three-hour special that drives home our mission and inspires our audience to contribute generously.”
Joining Clark as co-producers are Los Angeles-based entertainment professionals Suzanne Bender and Debbie Williams, a popular TV stage director. Some of Bender’s current credits include the “Golden Globes,” “American Idol,” the “Academy of Country Music Awards” and “America’s Got Talent.” Williams’ credits also include the “Golden Globes,” “American Idol,” the “Academy of Country Music Awards,” as well as the “Academy Awards” and the “MTV Video Music Awards.”
Six “stories of strength” will be told from the individuals’ and families’ perspectives. They include MDA’s new National Goodwill Ambassador Bryson Foster, a spunky 12-year-old who envisions a future as an NFL quarterback; Veronica Nino, a 45-year-old mother of three who is fighting for one more day with her family after being diagnosed with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or Lou Gehrig’s disease); and a teacher affected by spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) who credits MDA summer camp with giving her the confidence to pursue and achieve her dreams.
“Of the utmost importance is that our show audience be introduced to the incredible individuals and families served by the Association,” Cwik said in the release. “Their stories of strength are what inspire all of us at MDA to seek out and fund the most promising research in muscle disease, and to improve their daily lives through our services programs and advocacy efforts.”
MDA is the nonprofit health agency dedicated to finding treatments and cures for muscular dystrophy, ALS and related diseases by funding worldwide research. The Association also provides comprehensive health care and support services, advocacy and education.
In addition to funding some 300 research projects worldwide, MDA maintains a national network of 200 medical clinics; facilitates hundreds of support groups for families affected by neuromuscular diseases; and provides local summer camp opportunities for thousands of youngsters living with progressive muscle diseases.
For more information, go to www.mda.org.