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Greater Tulsa Reporter


Community Lends a Hand to Tulsa’s Blues Man

Searching for the Sound by BRYAN CANTRELL

TRIPLE THREAT: Soulful vocals, thoughtful songwriting and filthy guitar shredding make Dustin Pittsley one of the best blues acts around.


Photo by BETH TURNER for GTR NEWSPAPERS


“Laughter is the language of the soul.”
– Pablo Neruda
I begin with that quote for two reasons: First, to make myself sound smart and well read (although, full disclosure, I got it from a Simpson’s episode). The second reason is to make the following assertion: Pablo Neruda is full of s*#@!

Maybe I’m being a little harsh on the Nobel Prize-winning poet, but seriously, laughter? The primitive cackling and squawking reminiscent of our primate ancestors? I find the idea itself laughable.

Sorry Pablo, there’s no debate here. The language of the soul is music. Classical, Heavy Metal, Jazz, Bluegrass, etc.: they’re just different dialects that speak to different souls.

And while all music speaks to all souls to some extent, each soul has a native tongue, a language that not only communicates with it but engages; grabs it with both hands, shakes it and screams, “wake up!”

For me, and many guitar junkies like me, that language is Blues, and no one in town speaks it better than Dustin Pittsley.

Bassist Donnie Wood, drummer David Teegarden and keyboardist Chris Kyle round out the Dustin Pittsley Band, a roots-based, hard-rocking, southern blues band that has emerged as a flagship of the New Tulsa Sound.

The first time I saw Pittsley, he was playing John Prine and Beatles songs to a sparce, half-interested happy hour crowd at a bar on Brookside.

That was nearly 20 years ago, and since then, I’ve watched him grow into a thoughtful songwriter, a soulful singer and a bonafide guitar assassin.

I wish I could devote this entire column to Pittsley’s talent, catalog of music, influences, career highlights (which would certainly include joining Buddy Guy on stage in Chicago at the request of the blues legend), but unfortunately, life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans. That’s a quote by John Lennon, a far more reliable source than Pablo Neruda.

You can visit dustinpittsley.com to see all the upcoming gigs, and I encourage you to go to as many as possible. But the show I’m really pushing here will not feature The Dustin Pittsley Band at all.

On Aug. 19, dozens of Pittsley’s brothers and sisters of music will descend on Venue Shrine, 112 E. 18th St., for “Songs for Sawyer.”

Sawyer is Sawyer Pittsley, the five-year-old son of Dustin and Amber Pittsley. Sawyer was born with several brain abnormalities that have hindered his verbal and physical development. He must take a variety of medications and is currently receiving physical, occupational and speech therapy.

There are travel expenses, procedures that are not covered by insurance, missed work, even home modifications to accommodate Sawyer’s needs.

The Pittsleys have never asked for help with any of this financial burden, but to the surprise of no one familiar with the Tulsa music scene, the community has stepped up to offer some assistance. And, musically speaking, it’s quite an offer.

The lineup includes John Fullbright, Chris Combs, Jimmy Markham,? Levi Parham,? Paul Benjamin,? Don White,? Jesse Aycock, Seth Lee Jones,? Jacob Tovar,? Little Joe,? Wink Burcham,? Beau Roberson, Red Dirt Rangers, Monica Taylor… The list goes on.

“Songs for Sawyer” begins at 3 p.m. Tickets are $20 at the door with all proceeds benefiting the Pittsley family. The concert will be recorded, with plans to release a live album which will also benefit the Pittsley family.

You can also go to gofundme.com/supporting-sawyer-pittsley and make a direct donation.

This installment of Searching for the Sound marks the one-year anniversary of this column. Can you believe I’ve done this 12 times already!? Looking back on the year, one theme that has surfaced repeatedly is the kindness, generosity and closeness of Tulsa’s musical community. I referred to the performers as Pittsley’s brothers and sisters of music, because that’s exactly what they are: family.

Join the family on Aug. 19 at Shrine. It’ll be a Sunday afternoon of good music and even better people, many of whom are fluent in the language of the soul.

Thank you to everyone who has supported Searching for the Sound over the past year. Year two will be even better, as the encouragement and feedback you’ve given me is all the inspiration I need to keep searching, keep listening.

Updated 08-19-2018

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