Tulsa is home to the country’s 9th best music scene
4:00 AM EDT on April 3, 2012
So, this week something cool happened. I got like, seven emails from Ogle Moles! Initially, I assumed that they must just be standard fan mail — invitations to dinner, marriage proposals, risqué photos, etc — but instead they all linked to an article from Livability.com.
Apparently, Tulsa has been named as the country's 9th best music scenes outside of Nashville, New York and L.A...which I guess would make it the 12th best music scene. Whatever, here's the story:
Tulsa, OK, continues to attract and produce musical talent, and has done so as far back as the 1930s, when King of Western Swing and Country Music Hall of Fame inductee Bob Wills relocated his band there.
Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame president and musician Jim Paul Blair agrees. As a recent guest on the Tom Skinner-hosted Wednesday Night Science Project in Tulsa, he looked around the room and counted 10 musicians who had relocated to Tulsa since he first knew them in Nashville including Skinner, Don White, Don Morris, Harley Hamm and Patrick Williams.
"Tulsa is a great music town where you can find something every night," Blair says...
Artists with Tulsa ties: Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys, J.J. Cale, Elvin Bishop, Leon Russell, The Gap Band, Ronnie Dunn
Noted venues: Cain's Ballroom, BOK Center, Hard Rock Casino, Brady Theater
Cool record store: Starship Records & Tapes
Fun fact: Music has been a priority in Tulsa since before Oklahoma even became a state in 1907. Two years prior, one of the city's earliest leaders, L.J. Martin, is known for his quote, "Of course, we did not have any sewers or street paving, but these were luxuries that could wait, whereas an opera house loomed as an immediate necessity."
I'm glad that Cain's Ballroom and the Brady Theater are finally getting some love. After all, I feel like almost every important occurrence throughout my adolescence was directly related with something that happened before, during, or after a show at one of these two venues. My first date was watching Ben Folds and Rufus Wainwright play at the Brady (allegedly the night that inspired Rufus Wainwright's song about our humble home, appropriately named "Tulsa"). I drank my first gin and tonic at Cain's, and was offered an illegal substance for the first time there as well. I know the reason why we're supposed to care about Cain's Ballroom is because of its historical ties with red dirt rockabilly music, and something to do with Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys, or the Sex Pistols or something along those lines--but let's be real, we've all grown to love this place because of the trouble you can get into while you're there.
Speaking of debauchery at Cain's, I think that's exactly what the people who built this place one hundred years ago had in mind. I mean, the place is dimly lit, the floors are spring-loaded, and they sell beer there by the 6-pack! I had the pleasure of seeing Yonder Mountain String Band at Cain's on Sunday night, and there were literally people sitting in circles passing around peace pipes in the parking lot! Teenagers toasted long-neck Coors Light with mustached men donning overalls. The one rent-a-cop on duty seemed to be in an altered state himself due to secondhand fumes. The BOK Center is great an all, with the A-list spectacles that go on there, but if you're really looking for a good time, everyone knows you go to Cain's.
Here's a few more thoughts on the matter:
• Blair mentions a handful of musicians who have relocated to Tulsa from Nashville (Tom Skinner, Don White, Don Morris, Harley Hamm and Patrick Williams). I've heard of exactly none of them. Blame it on my youth, I guess. Or blame my number one source of reliable information, Wikipedia. Unless by "musicians" Blair actually means "obscure politicians" or "British rugby players," Wikipedia hasn't heard of these guys either.
• Once again, this ranking excludes New York City, Los Angeles, and Nashville, but we still beat out Seattle and Detroit! Yes, some website named Tulsa a better music city than Seattle (home of something called "Grunge") and Detroit (home of something called "Motown"). That doesn't damage or harm the credibility of the list or website, trust me.
• The article makes not mention of Hanson whatsoever. As a native Tulsan, a female, and a solid member of the Nickelodeon generation, this is a complete outrage.
Follow Chelsea on Twitter at @xCawoodstock
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