Save Our Stages So We’ll Have Some Place to Boogie


THE TULSA THEATER: The stainless steel sign that adorned the theater from 1952–1979 was ressurrected after four decades and recently reinstalled on the buildings north side.

In the wake of the November elections, many of us are ready for a break from politics. It’s certainly understandable after a never-ending news cycle of poll analysis, battleground predictions, chaotic debates and hyper punditry. So, what better time to submit a politically charged column?
Okay, politically charged is a bit of a stretch. Let’s call it civic minded; a call to action to do your part as a citizen and, I assume since you’re reading this column, a fan of live music.
Currently under consideration by the 116th Congress of the United States is S. 4258, the Save our Stages, or SOS Act.
The bipartisan bill, introduced in the Senate by Texas Republican John Cornyn and Minnesota Democrat Amy Klobuchar, “authorizes the Small Business Administration to make grants to eligible live venue operators, producers, promoters, or talent representatives to address the economic effects of the COVID-19 (i.e., coronavirus disease 2019) pandemic on certain live venues.”
As Tulsans, we have many reasons to contact our representatives to congress and urge them to pass this legislation. From the smaller, more intimate stages like The Colony and Mercury Lounge, to the legendary Cain’s Ballroom, Tulsa’s robust music scene has been able to flourish amid a landscape of top-quality venues.
I typically stay away from politics in this column, but the idea that any of my favorite venues could be in existential danger is enough to turn me into a veritable Bob Woodward.
Rather than unveiling the Watergate papers, however, my foray into political writing will conclude after this simple call to action: tell Congress to act now to save independent music venues. Visit for information and help contacting legislators, or to support the cause through a financial donation or by purchasing shirts, hats and other merch.
I will now step off my soap box and make a case for the SOS Act by highlighting one of the many world-class venues that could benefit from the bill.

The Old Lady
I applaud the Tulsa City Council for its decision to discontinue honoring Tate Brady in downtown Tulsa, but I have to admit, the Old Lady on Reconciliation Way doesn’t have the same ring to it.
The Tulsa Theater, 105 W. Reconciliation Way, formerly the Brady Theater, was known as the Old Lady on Brady long before it was called the Brady Theater.
Completed in 1914, the barn-like structure was originally known as Convention Hall. In its early years, it served as a municipal auditorium and convention hall, billed as the largest between Kansas City and Houston.
That size distinction was significant, as Convention Hall was one of the few venues in the region large enough to host a full Metropolitan Opera production, and therefore brought some of the best opera singers of the day to Tulsa.
Legend has it, one of them never left. Italian Tenor Enrico Caruso performed at the Convention Hall in 1920, reportedly contracting an illness and dying shortly after only to return in supernatural form to haunt the Old Lady to this day. It remains to be seen if the ghost of Hermann Cain haunts the BOK Center.
A 1930 interior renovation by world-renowned architect Bruce Goff brought about the elegant art deco style, seating and superior acoustics we enjoy today.

1950s: The Tulsa Municipal Theater in the 1950s. It would become the Brady Theater in 1979 before being renamed The Tulsa Theater earlier this year.

In 1952, lobbies were added to both the upper and lower levels and it became the Tulsa Municipal Theater.
It wasn’t until 1979 when the building was purchased by Tulsan Peter Mayo that the name was changed to the Brady Theater. The name change was logical, since Tulsans had been referring to it as the Old Lady on Brady for years.
In January 2020, the Brady Theater became the Tulsa Theater as the city continues to cut ties with Tate Brady due to his involvement with the KKK.
The sign that adorned the building from 1952-1979, a stainless steel script that spells out Tulsa, has been resurrected after 40 years in a storage unit and now embellishes the face of the Old Lady once again.
The list of acts that have graced that stage is far too long to list. It has seen some of the biggest names in pop culture, from George Carlin to Bob Dylan to Stevie Ray Vaughn, and for that, we owe a debt to the Old Lady.
You can settle that debt easily by contacting Congress in support of the SOS Act. Sorry, I got on my political soap box again, but I had to make one last pitch to save our stages so that when this pandemic is over, we’ll still have a multitude of venues in which to keep searching, keep listening.