As Temperatures Rise, Local Music Heats Up

Searching for the Sound by BRYAN CANTRELL

GUTHRIE GREEN: The land made for you and me hosts free concerts for the whole family every Sunday, 2:30 – 6:30. Above, John Fullbright performs at a recent Sunday concert at Guthrie Green.


As the temperatures begin to creep into the 90s, I’m reminded of the words of Jacob Tovar: “I got three good reasons for leaving Tulsa: July, August and you.”

If you’re not familiar with Jacob Tovar, that’s a line from the song Three Good Reasons, from the 2014 self-titled album, Jacob Tovar and the Saddle Tramps (available at

Like all good songwriters, Tovar seeks truth, and “the heat in July makes all the flowers die” is a painful truth that will soon confront all of us here in northeastern Oklahoma.

The good news is, we still have a few weeks of spring, and they are packed with opportunities for great outdoor music. Here are a few highlights:

There is no better celebration of the arts in Tulsa than Mayfest. The annual Downtown Tulsa festival boasts more than 100 visual artists and more than 100 musicians. The visual artists come in a wide range of disciplines and media: painting, drawing, photography, jewelry, metal, wood, glass, digital media… the list goes on. Likewise, the musical lineup represents many genres: Rock & Roll, Bluegrass, Country, Funk, Jazz, Blues, Latin, Pop, Reggae, Folk, and, of course, Red Dirt.

Representing the Red Dirt Genre was scheduled to be the late Brandon Jenkins, who passed away in March. In his stead, Red Dirt Rangers will play a Brandon Jenkins tribute on Friday, May 18 at 9:15 on the main stage at 3rd Street and Boston Avenue.

The four-day festival features an impressive lineup of local talent, including Count Tutu, Steve Liddell, Susan Herndon, Sam and the Stylees, Leon Rollerson, Klondike 5, Wanda Watson Band, Henna Roso, BC and the Big Rig, Grassroots Radio… Way too many to list. Check out for the complete lineup.

Guthrie Green Sunday Concerts
Free concerts, every Sunday, all ages are welcome. What a treasure we have in Guthrie Green.

In case you don’t get enough of the Red Dirt Rangers at Mayfest, head back downtown May 27 for the Guthrie Green Sunday Concert Series and catch them again. Check out for the list of upcoming Sunday concerts. There should still be some nice Sundays in store before the summer heat takes over, and there’s not a better outdoor venue in town.

Soul City
If you’ve read a few of my columns, you probably know me well enough to know that the J.J. Cale mural on the side of the building is enough to draw me to Soul City (1621 E 11th St.) like a moth to a flame.

Neil Young once said, “Of all the players I ever heard, it’s gotta be Hendrix and J.J. Cale who are the best electric guitar players…musically, he’s actually more than my peer, because he’s got that thing. I don’t know what it is.”

If you’re wondering what that has to do with the topic at hand, the answer is, nothing, I just like J.J. Cale, alright? I saw an opening, and I jumped in.

Now, getting back to Soul City, the mural is an obvious beacon to people like me, but there’s more to this book than the cover. The weekly resident shows offer great music four nights a week, and the back porch is a cozy outdoor venue with an impressive lineup over the next few weeks that includes Jimmy Markham and the Caretakers May 19, Josh Yarbrough Band May 26, Dwight Twilley Birthday Bash June 2, and Levi Parham Album Release Party June 9. Check out for the full schedule.

Hunt Club
Live music has been filling the streets on the north side of downtown Tulsa for nearly a century. It started with Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys at Cains Ballroom on North Main in the 1920s and ‘30s, it continued through the 1950s with J.J. Cale sitting in with Flash Terry and his band at the Flamingo Lounge on North Greenwood, and it continues today with dozens of venues offering live music every night of the week.
Right in the middle of this vortex of sound is Hunt Club (224 N. Main), an indoor/outdoor bar and grill with a rooftop patio and an enticing schedule of upcoming live music which includes Randy Crouch June 3, Dustin Pittsley Band June 15 and Hosty June 23.

That should just about take us into the dog days of summer, so that’s where I’ll leave it this month. Next month, I’ll give you more than three good reasons to stay in Tulsa as I brave the heat to keep searching, keep listening.

Updated 06-04-2018

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