I have no idea how Woody Guthrie or anyone who played WoodyFest can survive the July son in Okemah, but I gave it a shot.
Everyone playing WoodyFest is a character, but one person stood out. His name is Randy Thompson. He takes care of the Crystal Theatre, which is more than 100 years old.
There’s a chance it might close down, so there’s an effort to keep the place going.
Woody Guthrie told us this land is our land.
Okemah is Woody’s territory, from the building-side murals sporting his larger-than-life face to his name etched in sidewalk cement near the 100-year-old Crystal Theatre, where the 13th annual Woody Guthrie Festival kicked off Wednesday.
At the Crystal Theatre, everybody’s a Woody fan. On the 98th anniversary of his birthday, his son, Arlo Guthrie, was the festival headliner, playing folk tunes with his son, Abe Guthrie, and his grandsons Krishna Guthrie and Mo Guthrie.
Ramsay Midwood opened for Arlo and said WoodyFest reminds musicians that their profession isn’t about the fame or the money.
“It kind of brings everyone back to the reason they started making music,” Midwood said.
The magazine’s suggestion for Oklahoma’s updates song shares the same name as our current track, but it was written by Bishop Allen.
The song has some very Okie friendly lyrics.
You’ve got eyes like Oklahoma
Learned to swim in Lake Texoma
Chances are you plan to leave too soon
Oklahoma that’s what Ill call you!“
It doesn’t have corn as high as an elephant’s eye, but it’s really catchy.
Also, Bishop Allen has spent some time in Oklahoma. The band recorded its album “Broken Strings” at Blackwatch Studios in Norman.
At 40, James Murphy might be getting just a little too old to mock people who don’t care as much about music as he does. Especially considering how much the dude loves music. Before owning and producing his own Death From Abroad label and singing lead in LCD Soundsystem, Murphy clerked, shag-haired and unshaven in a record store, listening to “everything before everybody”.
Regardless, there were plenty such people at the Palladium Ballroom in Dallas, Texas Wednesday night who were more concerned with whom they were with than the band they’d shelled out $40 each to see. Funny lyric changes to “Pow Pow” and an amazing one-man, two-part conversation during “Losing My Edge” went largely unnoticed by the crowd, which was energetic enough, dancing and fist-pumping most of the night.
“Us v. Them” kicked the show off expertly with it’s “the time has come to PLAY” lyrics and call and response audience part, forcing patrons to start moving with it’s dance-funk, cowbell solo and intricate working parts. The hotly-debated new release “Drunk Girls” immediately followed, to a criminally underwhelmed reaction. Nancy Whang deserved an ovation for supplying the roughly 400 backing “DRUNK GIRLS” lines dutifully, if a bit annoyed.
Murphy playfully altered the talky lyrics to “Pow Pow” to suit the domestic audience. “We have a black president and you do not, except you do, because we’re all from the same place,” he said in a sort of casual disco-command. A wobbly “Daft Punk is Playing At My House” probably got the loudest and most intense crowd reaction of the night, as Murphy again got playful, hooking the audience in with his “oooohwOOOO-HOOOOyeeeeeah” chorus calls.
And then he turned sarcastic. After finishing “Daft Punk”, Murphy turned the sarcasm knob to 11, laughing about the old microphone that wasn’t working. “It’s old and weird, like meeeEEEEEE,” he sang, practically giddy before reaching into his most self-aware. “You’re breaking the fourth wall!”
Murphy managed to turn down the snark for one of the decade’s most endearing and beautiful songs (by anybody), “All My Friends”. At his most poignant, crowd members were nearly in tears at the line “I wouldn’t trade one stupid decision for another five years of life”. The rushing finish was purely cathartic after building up on the nostalgia of young adult life shared with others at shows, parties, bars and intimate conversation.
“I Can Change” followed beautifully, with Murphy delivering the best vocal performance of the night as he ached over the paradox of suiting a lover’s needs. It was a surprisingly delicate touch for the band that played “Daft Punk is Playing at My House” two songs earlier.
The first set was debut album-heavy and ended with a rush through the well-received “Tribulations” (featuring a David Stone guitar solo fit for The Strokes), the fastest, punkiest number in the surprisingly-excellent “Movement” and the predictably fun finisher “Yeah”. By its end, it broke down into primal screaming backed by wild synths.
After a short break the band returned for the touching ballad “Someone Great”, Murphy appearing onstage just in time to sing his heart out about how your world lacks meaning or feeling when somebody so close to you dies. It’s a choker of a song, but that sentiment was quickly dissuaded by the self-aware hilarity of “Losing My Edge”. Murphy carried a one-man conversation, staggering as drummer Pat Mahoney snapped behind him, filling the brief gaps with snares. “I hear you and your band have bought a sequencer–oh yeah? That’s cool,” he stated and then responded in a meek party-conversation voice.
“New York I Love You, But You’re Bringing Me Down” was a bit lost on the Texas crowd, but rocked nonetheless. When it finally broke down, Whang emerged singing the chorus from Jay-Z’s “Empire State of Mind”, backed by Murphy. It was a brilliant casting decision memorializing the concert as one few will soon forget.
For pictures, check out Nathan Poppe’s work below.
Us v. Them
Yr City’s A Sucker
Daft Punk is Playing at My House
All My Friends
I Can Change
Losing My Edge
MEDLEY: New York I Love You, But You’re Bringing Me Down/Empire State of Mind (Jay-Z cover)
NORMAN — Kara McKee was 16 in 1996 when an old man handed her a basketful of flowers to pass out at Andrews Park.
“I got hooked,” she said. “That was when I knew I wanted to be a part of Groovefest.”
Ten years before that encounter, Norman resident David Slemmons was there organizing the very first festival.
Note: This story ran in LookAtOKC and WeekendLook in advance of Jazz in June on June 25-26.
New York City’s The Bad Plus delivers a complete brand of eclectic and innovative jazz by infusing the element of improvisational surprise, but don’t let the band’s tagline fool you. Just because they live amongst the world’s musical elite doesn’t mean their collars are starched white.
“We play with the energy of a working band, and I think in improvised music that’s something that’s rare these days,” drummer Dave King recently said over the phone, his children lunching in the background.
The trio is far from unaccustomed to headlining at jazz festivals (they play six between now and September) and like all great workingman bands, The Bad Plus earn a living by rolling up their sleeves and hitting the road, which happens to pass through Andrews Park for Norman’s Jazz in June on June 26.
Summertime is grilling time in Oklahoma, and there’s no better fish for grilling than salmon.
“It’s good on the grill; it’s good baked, broiled, and unless you overcook it, you can’t hardly mess it up,” said Ron Watkins, owner of Avalon Seafood Market at Wilshire and May.
Cooked fresh, it’s a meal fit for Poseidon, but Watkins says that many in the state lack a natural instinct for the preparation of fish.
This internship sure is flying by and so is this summer. I can’t believe it is the middle of July. Soon I will be in the humid-free weather of Wyoming and Montana.
I will be staying a week longer than my fellow interns because I’m attending the Native American Journalist Association conference in Minneapolis next week. So when I return from Minneapolis most of them will be gone.
For some reason this internship seems to be going by faster than any other I’ve had. I think it is because there are still so many story ideas I didn’t even get a chance to start. I’m planning to still cover some of them. I write for a blog in Montana and think these ideas will make good stories for that. With that said, some of the stories I have worked on here have been interesting.
I’ve never seen a closet with a hidden door before this summer. I shot video of the home of Murray Humphreys, second-in-command to Al Capone. Some of the most notorious mobsters in history probably hid out at this home outside of Norman. This house once had a silver dollar lined pool and a watch tower. Story of the Ages intern, Hannah Rieger, wrote the story and it is slated to run in August.
I’ve never met a man with more Route 66 tattoos than Ron Jones of Bartlesville, Oklahoma. During my first week at the Oklahoman I was searching online for story ideas and came across a small article on Jones. I traveled three hours north to Independence, Kansas to video and photograph Jones getting two tattoos. I dubbed him as Route 66’s tattoo man because he has over 80 Route 66 themed tattoos on his back, legs and arms.
Only a week after I interviewed him in Kansas, he inked one more on his knee. This project took me a while to finish because writing and editing the video at the same time was time consuming.
All Oklahoman interns were invited to attend the Intern OKC initiative this summer. This program reaches out to all the interns in the Oklahoma City area with the hopes we will decide to live and work here. To an intern this translates into free lunch. However, during one of these luncheons, I came across a story. One speaker in particular caught my attention. Justin Echols is a police officer with the Oklahoma City police department. Echols is pursing his passion for jazz music. But, not only is jazz his passion, he is really good at it.
I am currently working on a story detailing Echols’ journey after discovering this hidden talent. I hope to have this story done soon because next weekend he is traveling overseas to perform and attend workshops at an important international jazz festival in Italy.
Some other stories I hope to have finished in the coming weeks are a story on the Cherokee Youth Choir in Tahlequah. I just talked with the director of the group. They are on a bus right now headed to San Diego to attend a conference. I am also working on a story about seniors in the workforce. I also plan to travel to Catoosa, Oklahoma to shoot video of the Blue Whale of Catoosa for a story about this well-known Route 66 attraction.
So with about two weeks left in my internship, I still have a lot to work on.
Note: This story ran online at Newsok.com early Saturday.
Sometimes, bands are specifically meant to be heard live.
For patrons of The Hold Steady’s Friday night show at the Diamond Ballroom, this became apparent midway through “Sequestered in Memphis,” the 12th song in a 90-minute set, when lead singer Craig Finn’s lyrical subject matter seemed more real than anything.
“In bar light, she looked alright/In daylight, she looked desperate/That’s alright I was desperate too,” he sang as a gaggle of nearing-their-30s women danced, pointed and laughed to stage right.
Note: This story ran in daily on Tuesday, July 13.
Men and women cannot live on bread, food and water alone. As it turns out, people might need more Vitamin D than previously thought.
Human bodies require exposure to sunlight to react with cholesterol in the skin to produce vitamin D. As a result, many Americans are missing the nutrient because they live and work indoors and because vitamin D is uncommon in our food supply.
Recent research has raised concerns among doctors and dietitians that the amount of vitamin D the medical community recommends isn’t high enough.