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March Means Headliner Heaven in Tulsa

Show Buzz by NANCY HERMANN

ZZ Top: Their special brand of sharp-dressed blues comes to Paradise Cove at the River Spirit Resort, Mar. 10



When I worked at the Tulsa PAC and March rolled around, I was keenly aware of the competition for audiences during that timeframe. I learned not to underestimate the pull of March Madness, St. Patrick’s Day and spring break.

This month is no exception. In fact, if you are looking for headliner entertainment, you will find it nearly every day at one or more of the many venues around Tulsa.
Forty years ago this month, the PAC opened its doors with a concert performed by the First Lady of Song, Ella Fitzgerald, accompanied by the Tulsa Philharmonic. To pay homage to that anniversary, the PAC Trust will host singer/siren Jane Monheit on Mar. 12. Performing with her is Grammy Award-winning trumpeter Nicholas Payton, joined by her trio and the Tulsa Symphony. Payton produced and played on Monheit’s 2016 album, “The Songbook Sessions: Ella Fitzgerald.” In combination with Payton’s genius and talent, Monheit brings freshness to The American Songbook. “I love pop stuff, but one of the beautiful things about jazz is the way it blends with other genres. You can cross over, mix it up and try different things,” she told me in a recent interview. Expect a few surprising song mashups, top-rate artistry and a concert experience all will remember.

Also at the PAC this month is my favorite musical, Stephen Sondheim’s “Sweeney Todd.” It’s a dark tale for sure, but the music is extraordinary. Theatre Tulsa, which never misses a step thanks in no small part to the leadership of Sara Phoenix, presents this bloody tale of that “Demon Barber of Fleet Street,” Mar. 3-12. Meat pie, anyone?

Several other events complete the PAC March calendar, including Celebrity Attractions’ “Motown: The Musical,” March 14-19; Tulsa Ballet’s “Swan Lake,” Mar. 24-26; and “Brain Candy Live!,” March 29. “Brain Candy” features Adam Savage and Michael Stevens in what has been described as “a cross between TED Talks and the Blue Man Group.”

In the film “Zen of Bennett,” Tony Bennett says, “Choose a career that encompasses what you gravitate to naturally, and you will have a satisfying, lifelong vocation.” He’s 90 and still booking concert dates and hosting TV specials. I think this iconic Italian singer can party with the best of them on St. Patrick’s Day at the River Spirit Casino, though he’s going to have some stiff competition from “Experience Hendrix” across town at The Joint, or from the opening night of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship at the BOK Center. “Experience Hendrix” comprises 29 performers channeling Mr. Purple Haze, and sold out all 27 of its shows in 2016.

Take a trip back to the sizzling ‘60s with the bands Chicago (Mar. 24) and REO Speedwagon (Mar. 25). Both were formed in 1967. Even if the ‘60s weren’t your time in the sun, you will know those Chicago tunes, and the group has retained four of its original members. Also headlining at the Paradise Cove at River Spirit are ZZ Top (Mar. 10), bringing their special brand of sharp-dressed blues as part of their Tonnage Tour, and country music’s multi-Grammy winner Brad Paisley (Mar. 23). He’s the triple Grammy Award-winning singer who has hosted the Country Music Association Awards with Carrie Underwood for the last several years.

Comedian George Lopez will have plenty of material to work with Mar. 8 at The Joint. He finds the humor in ethnic relations, including Mexican American culture. Brett Michaels of “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” fame performs at The Joint, Mar. 9. He’s a singer, songwriter, musician and reality TV star. He won “Celebrity Apprentice” in 2010. “Bad to the Bone” singer George Thorogood and the Destroyers appear at the Hard Rock on Mar. 30.

I saw Stevie Nicks a few years ago in Oklahoma City with Fleetwood Mac. She was fabulous then, and I’ve heard that her solo concert is excellent. She performs at the BOK Center, Mar. 6, followed by American punkers Green Day, Mar. 7. People who weren’t familiar with Green Day before have come to know them through the “American Idiot” Broadway musical.

Double Grammy winner Miranda Lambert has gotten a lot of ink lately due to her split with hubby Blake Shelton, but that’s a side note to a much bigger story. She’s won seven consecutive Academy of Country Music Association awards, which is a record, and is the first woman to win the CMA’s Album of the Year twice. Her Highway Vagabond Tour with special guests Old Dominion and Aubrie Sellers stops at the BOK Center Mar. 11.

Add Cain’s Ballroom and its usual massive lineup of bands to that, along with performances by singer R. Kelly, Mar. 8, and the rock band Kansas (“Dust in the Wind” and “Carry on Wayward Son”), Mar. 25, at the Brady!

I remember a few years back when one appearance of Michael Bolton would have T-Town buzzing and angling for tickets! A concert staycation could be a great option for March. Do what I do and try to take in as much as time and budget allows, mixing in blast-from-the-past experiences with something entirely new.

Updated 03-06-2017

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