BY THOMAS CONNER
© Tulsa World
I felt daring. I thought it would be a bold experiment.
I figured that as a music journalist at the second hometown
Hanson concert it was my duty to have the raw experience --
to hear the full and frenzied screaming of the crowd.
So I took out my earplugs.
Just for a second.
Ow. Big mistake.
Hanson is hardly old hat for Tulsans. Thursday night's
sold-out concert of more than 8,000 breathless, hysterical
fans filled the Mabee Center — often host to more serene
worship services — with as much (if not more) yelping,
gasping and general high-decibel swooning than the first
Tulsa concert on July 8.
The trio may sing "Where's the
Love?" to its other teeming bunches across the continent,
but the question is moot in front of the fawning hometown
crowd. Those valued earplugs, though, are designed to
screen out the noise and let in the music.
those aren't one in the same. Even though the last thing on
most young girls' minds is the music, the Hanson moptops
churn out plenty of good and grooving sound. Whatever your
opinion of the boys' bubblegum bop and girlish locks, no
one can watch a Hanson concert without reaching the
conclusion that these kids are really in it for the music.
The frothing girls are a bonus by-product for now, the
serenade is their greatest thrill.
Ours, too. When the excitement of actually seeing the
boys in the flesh boils down by midshow, everyone realizes
what solid music they're hearing. The Hanson brothers were
raised on classic R&B — much of which they cover throughout
the show with respect if not always fire — and their
performances are saturated in soul. Taylor's deepening
voice allows him to pull off a fair Steve Winwood
impression in the Spencer Davis Group's "Gimme Some Lovin' "
though these young rascals miss the spark of the Young
Rascals' "Good Lovin.' " They encored with a righteous take
on a hometown standard, "Livin' on Tulsa Time." Also, in this
show they added a cover of Steppenwolf's "Magic Carpet Ride,"
a smart choice musically even though they might not have
gotten the sexual leer of it quite yet.
As always, though, they shine brightest during their own
material: the R&B-injected "Where's the Love," the momentous
ballads "With You in Your Dreams" and "Weird" (the "Open Arms" of
the '90s), and the intriguing new song "If You're Ever
Lonely," a moody plea that sounds like Ace-era Paul Carrack.
Once again, the mid-show acoustic set was the brightest
moment of the concert, allowing them to show off their
oft-doubted instrumental chops and unbeatable harmonies.
The vocalizing in "Soldier" is breathtaking; if only it
wasn't a throw-away lyric about toys. Still, when Isaac has
his moment alone at the keyboards for "More Than Anything,"
his deft command of balladry, showmanship and a fairly
arresting tune makes for a goose-pimply moment.
Soon after, though, Zac is spraying the front rows with
a water rifle, so we're brought back to reality. There's
really little tomfoolery, though, and even less blatant
teen-idol posturing. These guys always come to play music
and nothing more, despite the diversionary fuss that
follows them everywhere. They thank the crowd profusely and
just crank out the songs — about 23 in a 100-minute show.
Sure, we have to wear the earplugs today for the screaming
girls, but one day the screams will die away and — yes, just
like the Beatles — their musical legacy will be all that
matters. But hang onto the plugs, for now. Hansonmania is
likely going to be a long, strange trip.
And don't forget, this concert is a double-bill of Tulsa
talent. Admiral Twin opens the show, and though their
Thursday night performance hinted at the exhaustion of the
unending summer, they still packed a wallop and kept the
throng on its feet. Bassist Mark Carr and guitarist John
Russell work as a tag team, taking turns striking the rock
star pose at the edge of stage right. Fortunately, they
aren't just posing. Carr's focused bass and Russell's
lively guitar propel the pop band with real force. The guys
are still promising a forthcoming announcement of a
possible label deal. Stay tuned.
The Hanson wave rolls back into town (quick, take your seats!)
By Thomas Conner
© Tulsa World
Perhaps you have experienced this particular strain of
Hansonmania: you're on vacation or speaking to an
out-of-state friend or relative and they immediately ask to
exploit your insider Hanson connections.
"If I send you a letter, would you give it to them?"
"Can you get me tickets to the show?"
"Where can I find their first two independent records?"
The assumption is always the same — Tulsa is so small a
town that we all know the Hanson family intimately. In
fact, we wave to them on Main Street every afternoon. We're
all pals, all in the loop. That's what most young fans
around the country seem to think, and they have spent the
past year and a half of Hanson's pop music reign calling,
writing and e-mailing Tulsa businesses and government in a
tireless effort to milk every drop of information out of
the MMMBoppers' hometown.
For some businesses, the influx
of attention has been mildly amusing; for others, it's been
a real headache. "It's been crazy. I got a call just
today from a little girl in Missouri wanting me to give her
the Hansons' phone number," said Kirby Pearce, owner of the
hip Brookside clothier Zat's. "We get letters and poems.
We've been inundated with it — from all over the world.
"It got on my nerves right before the concert. People
were coming in with movie cameras and talking to my staff
and photographing each other. It didn't cause problems — it
was just kind of aggravating. One family came in from
Brazil and hung out for several hours. They seem to think
we all have this direct link to them."
Why would Hanson fans be targeting a clothing store? A
homemade fan magazine several months ago printed an
interview allegedly with the Hanson trio in which the boys
listed some of their favorite spots in Tulsa. The 'zine
proliferated around the globe, and Zat's was mentioned as
the city's coolest outfitter.
"They've obviously been here, though I've been in
business here for nine years and probably wouldn't have
recognized them if they came in," Pearce said.
The fan magazine also listed Mohawk Music as a cool
Tulsa record store, but Mohawk owner Paul Meek was fielding
frenzied calls long before that 'zine hit the streets.
"We started getting letters and e-mail right away from
people looking for the first two indie albums," Meek said,
speaking of Hanson's two pre-fame, locally produced
records, "MMMBop" and "Boomerang." "Everyone figures that Tulsa
would be the most likely place to find them. Some say
they'll pay any amount of money. I have to tell them I've
never seen the product and didn't even know it existed
until they became famous."
The notice has, at least, increased the foot traffic in
Meek's shop. He, too, has seen whole families come through
the door inquiring about Hanson merchandise.
"People stopped by all summer while here or passing
through on vacation. They're just amazed that a Tulsa
record store isn't overflowing with Hanson stuff," Meek
The Blue Rose Bar and Grill in Brookside has become
something of a tourist attraction since the Hansons played
an impromptu but contract-clinching show there some years
ago. Even details like that don't escape the short but
intense attention spans of fans. "Apparently our name is
all over the Internet. These kids are very resourceful,"
said Blue Rose owner Tom Dittus.
He, too, sifts through calls and letters from eager fans
— most of whom first assure him that they're not obsessed --
seeking phone numbers, addresses or just correspondence
about their latest obsession ... er, group.
"There were families on vacation this summer that made
Tulsa a stop on their route so they could come by the Blue
Rose and take pictures and see where the guys once were,"
Dittus said. "We can't allow anyone under 21 in the
restaurant, but we'll let them peek in the door from time
to time. They walk out of here with T-shirts, cups, menus,
caps — I've even given out several autographs myself, which
is pretty hilarious."
Radio stations, too, have been strangled by the
fiber-optic strength of Hansonmania.
"We've been swamped. Everyone wants to know where they
can get tickets," said Mike Davis, promotions director at
KHTT, 106.9-FM "K-Hits." "I had a 90-year-old great
grandmother call me begging for tickets, and I had to tell
her to hit the streets looking for scalpers." Davis said
that this summer, before the first Hanson concert in Tulsa,
two radio stations in New Zealand called for information.
They were organizing a contest to send listeners to Tulsa
for "the Hanson hometown experience."
That kind of strangeness at least makes local chamber of
commerce officials happy. There's no denying the increased
exposure and tourist dollars Tulsa has received since
Hanson began spreading our name around. Officials at the
Tulsa Chamber of Commerce said they've already noticed an
economic impact around the concert dates.
"We're looking forward to having them back again. They're
bringing in people from all over the country, and those
people stay in our hotels, eat in our restaurants and shop
in our stores," said Chamber communications director Chris
The Chamber's switchboard has been swamped with calls,
too — more than the usual queries about what to do and where
to go in T-town. "We've gotten lots and lots and lots of
calls about Hanson. All last week we gave out the
800-number for tickets," Metcalf said. "It was anywhere from
300 to 500 calls last week. We don't ask where the calls
are coming from, but we've heard all kinds of different
accents, and some of the connections are obviously overseas
calls." Lewis Vanlandingham, director of the Mayor's
Action Line, gets the same calls. And letters. And ...
"They even send me pictures of themselves. They want to
know where (Hanson) will be tonight. At home, I guess,"
Vanlandingham chuckled. "We're not used to getting calls
like this at all. When Garth Brooks was here, we didn't
have any of this."
Yours truly still screens a daily barrage of phone
calls, letters and e-mail from Hanson fans who don't read
the paper, have never seen this paper or are convinced I
know more about the Fab Foals than I print in these pages.
So don't be surprised if some preteen girls call your
insurance office or giggle their way through your cafe this
week. The boys are back in town — and so are the groupies.
For official Hanson info, call the Tulsa-based Hanson
hotline, 446-3979 (a recording, usually of Isaac updating
the tour schedule and thanking fans profusely), visit the
group's web site (http://www.hansonline.com/) or write to
the fan club at HITZ List, P.O. Box 703136, Tulsa, OK
Hansonmania in full force
BY THOMAS CONNER
© Tulsa World
That's right — Hansonmania is in full force again.
The world-famous trio returns to its hometown this week
for a second concert.
A second sold-out concert.
The Hanson show kicks off at 7 p.m. Thursday at the
Mabee Center, 8100 S. Lewis Ave.
The nearly 8,000 tickets for the show sold out the day
they went on sale, Sept. 12, in an hour and a half.
The group's oddly named continental trek, the Albertane
Tour, originally was scheduled only through mid-August. The
high demand for shows, though, has led to several
extensions, including this final swing through the South
which will include the Tulsa reprise. Tulsa is the
second city Hanson has repeated on this tour. The return
trip also allows them to play Dallas (Reunion Arena, Sept.
Officials at Hanson's record company, Mercury Records,
said the tour keeps getting extended because "they're having
a blast and they want to play more shows."
Another Tulsa group, the smart pop band Admiral Twin,
has opened shows for Hanson throughout the tour and is
scheduled to play the second Tulsa date, as well.
Multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Brad Becker left the
tour for two shows — he's still got a job here and an
expecting wife — but he'll be back with the band this week
for the Tulsa show.
Hanson returns for second sold-out, hometown show
By Thomas Conner
© Tulsa World
The hit musical group Hanson — three Tulsa-born brothers --
returns to Tulsa on Thursday for a repeat concert,
following up on the high demand for tickets after its
initial July 8 performance.
The sold-out show kicks off at 7 p.m. at the Mabee
Center with another Tulsa-based pop band, Admiral Twin,
opening the concert. Hanson's Albertane Tour — named
after a mythical location in one of the trio's songs --
kicked off early this summer and was scheduled to end in
mid-August. The enormous demand for more shows, however,
prompted the group to extend the tour several times,
picking up cities they missed on the first legs of the
They returned for a second show in Detroit, then opted
to swing back south to make a second stop in their
"They've been wanting to come back," said Glenn Smith, the
show's promoter, "and here we come again."
There is less official hoopla this time around, though.
No meet-and-greets have been scheduled, and the boys will
not face another media conference before this show.
Also, at press time plans to film the concert for a
cable television special remained tabled as a result of
scheduling difficulties. The nearly 8,000 tickets
available for the show sold out in less than an hour and a
Ticket buyers who have not yet received their tickets
can go to the Mabee Center box office Thursday, at least an
hour before show time. The ticket company handling the show
will be there, Smith said.
Also, although at press time the show was still
sold-out, "production release" tickets sometimes come
available at the last minute. Less than an hour before the
July 8 concert, about 100 such last-minute tickets became
available for sale.
But don't hold your breath.
These online "clips" reproduce a self-selection of my journalism (music etc) during the last 20+ years. It's a lotta stuff, but it only scratches the surface. I do not currently possess the time or resources to digitize the whole body of work. These posts are simply a bunch of pretty great days at the office.