Country Music, Theatre and Lovin’ Every Day


LUKE BRYAN: The country music singer/songwriter plays the BOK Center June 10

Summer in the city. What are your plans for June?
Before it gets too hot in Tulsa, consider a Thursday night under the stars at Utica Square. Concerts there are free, and some of the area’s most popular musicians perform, like Starr Fisher, the Mid-Life Crisis Band and Mary Cogan.

The Center hosts two big-name Country artists. Singer and songwriter Luke Bryan brings his “Huntin’, Fishin’ and Lovin’ Every Day” tour to town, June 10. In 2016 he won a bucketful of American Country awards, including Artist of the Year. Bryan has an ardent following, but one of the hottest names in country music is guitarist and songwriter Chris Stapleton, slated for the , June 22. The product of a Kentucky coal-mining family, Stapleton made a name as a member of The SteelDrivers band. Adele recognized the group’s appealing bluesy, bluegrass groove early on by performing “If It Hadn’t Been for Love,” a song penned by Stapleton. He’s written for Country Music’s biggest stars, including Luke Bryan. A breakout moment for Stapleton was a mash-up with Tennessee-born Justin Timberlake. Stapleton performed “Tennessee Whiskey” and Timberlake sang one of my favorite Timberlake tunes, which was so perfect for that pairing, “Drink You Away.” You might have caught Stapleton recently on the season finale of “The Voice.”

Still in the country music mode, an artist who needs no introduction, Loretta Lynn, has been rescheduled at The Joint at Hard Rock due to illness. Across town at the River Spirit Casino, you can enjoy Dwight Yoakum, June 22, followed there by Trace Adkins, June 29.

Trace Adkins in an interesting fellow. He’s seen a patch of trouble in this lifetime. Before the budding singer was out of high school, his nose was partially ripped off when he rear-ended a school bus. He’s had to have his pinky finger re-attached after he cut it off trying to open a bucket, and his house in Tennessee was completely lost in a fire. Most dramatically, one of his wives shot a bullet through his heart and both lungs, but he survived and didn’t press charges. That’s enough material for several Country Music albums and a bio-pic to boot! He is the voice of Elvin on TV’s “King of the Hill,” and he won ”All-Star Celebrity Apprentice.” If you see photos of him with Donald Trump, you’ll know why. Beyond his personal history, he’s a multi-platinum-record-selling artist. One of his big hits is “I Left Something Turned On at Home.” I hope it wasn’t the stove.

There aren’t too many rock band concerts scheduled nearby this month, except for Roger Waters of Pink Floyd Fame, June 1, and Journey, June 5, both at the Center, followed by the nineties British group Bush at the Brady, June 7. America drops by The Joint, June 29. If you follow rock music over the years, you would know America most notably from “Horse with No Name,” and “Ventura Highway.”

Patti LaBelle, also known as the “Godmother of Soul” is back in town June 2 at River Spirit. She’s sung through a 50-year career, and we loved watching her in 2015 on “Dancing with the Stars.”

The other nationally-known female singer I’m looking forward to hearing again in concert is Norah Jones, June 9, at the Brady. In addition to having an ever-fresh voice, she plays guitar and is an excellent pianist. I remember when she performed at the a few years ago, and she talked about her Broken Arrow ties. More well-known is that her father is Ravi Shankar. Her Tulsa concert will be a continuation of the tour she began late last year featuring her studio album “Day Breaks,” which “Rolling Stone Magazine” lauded with four stars. Jones has come a long way since her 2003 hit “Come Away With Me,” yet “Day Breaks” returns to jazz roots. Her initial attraction to music was through the venerable jazz pianist Bill Evans and the music of Billie Holliday.

Although I’m retired from my work at the Tulsa , I’m still deeply rooted in its mission to bring affordable, quality entertainment to our community. There’s dance to check out in June with “Shaping Sound,” June 9, created by Travis Wall from “So You Think You Can Dance.” Then, back by popular demand, and I really mean that, “1964…The Tribute” returns June 10.

Do you like a small room to enjoy intimate, heartfelt performances? There are many terrific cabaret shows planned for the ’s annual SummerStage and so much more. My friends Shelby Eicher, Janet Rutland, Jeremy Stevens, Pat Hobbs and Rebecca Ungerman each have their own cabarets. The exquisitely talented Heather Richetto-Rumley and Mike Pryor return in the hilarious “Pete ‘N’ Keely,” June 1-4, and there’s a mega-showcase from Theatre Tulsa, June 23-24. The production culls through 95 years of Theatre Tulsa performances for one big show. Families can enjoy Tulsa Opera’s fairytale ”Snow Queen,” June 17-18, and the beloved Broadway hit “Matilda,” presented by Celebrity Attractions, June 20-25.

Pull out your lawn chair and get out beneath the stars, stay cool at the , or turn up the heat with a big heap of country. I’m with Luke Bryan when it comes to easy livin’ and loving every day.

Updated 05-30-2017

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