This post contains my complete running coverage of this annual conference and festival ...
© Tulsa World
Musical Mardi Gras Spotlights Oklahoma's 'Red Dirt' Singing Poets
By Thomas Conner 03/21/1998
AUSTIN, Texas — South by Southwest is a musical Mardi
Gras, of sorts, but Chris Maxwell spent Thursday afternoon
immersed in actual Mardi Gras beads.
To draw some attention to his label, Binky Records, and
its artists, Maxwell passed out Mardi Gras beads in the
South by Southwest trade show. One artist, in particular,
concerned Maxwell the most. In fact, it's an Oklahoman, and
it's the whole reason Maxwell launched Binky Records.
“I started this label a while ago after I met Tom
Skinner and wondered why in the world this man didn't have
records out all over the country,'' Maxwell said.
Skinner is a popular performer in Tulsa and Stillwater,
and he's at the apex of the group of songwriters that forge
the “red dirt'' sound — Oklahoma's unique brand of
singer-songwriter music with that good ol' boy touch.
He and a few other immensely talented songwriters --
Muskogee's Greg Jacobs and Stillwater's Bob Childers — are
featured on the Binky Records sampler that Maxwell handed
out to every journalist and music industry mole that walked
through the South by Southwest trade show.
In addition, Skinner, Jacobs and Childers performed an
unofficial showcase concert Thursday night at Austin's
Waterloo Ice House. The bill also featured Green Country
native Jimmy Lafave and area favorite Ray Wylie Hubbard.
The Big Names: To seed the festival with exciting
attractions, South by Southwest books a couple of
unofficial headliners each year. This year's biggie: Sonic
The announcement came just a couple of weeks before the
festival, but word spread quickly because the lines to get
into the show at Austin's La Zona Rosa wound around the
Why the hoopla? Sonic Youth is a veteran New York
quartet that — I realized upon hearing them again live --
created the entire sonic landscape that allowed grunge to
exist. The carefully reined dissonance, the thudding guitar
rhythms, the squelched noises and walls of distortion — it
all opened the doors for modern rock's anger and angst.
The band is still hot, too. During their long set
Thursday night, they played mostly songs from the
forthcoming new album on Geffen Records, “A Thousand
Leaves.'' Actually, these experiences weren't just songs;
they're compositions, sonic landscapes, carefully crafted
noise. Hearing it live is breathtaking. Guitarist Thurston
Moore closes his eyes and meditates on the music's
off-kilter drone; then suddenly comes the inevitable
change, a jerk in the song that turns Moore's guitar into a
live transformer. He snaps the strings, scrapes them, even
rubs them with a bow. Amazing.
Another oldie act played Thursday night: Soul Asylum.
The passe bunch of bores played songs from their new album,
“Candy From a Stranger,'' due in May.
Festival Highlight: Imperial Teen's Thursday night show
was an appropriate follow-up to the Sonic Youth show. Here
was a scrappy band from San Francisco taking the sonic
expanse and reverence of dissonance that Sonic Youth
pioneered on the other side of the continent and containing
it all within head-bobbing pop songs. The same occasional
guitar torture is there, and they learned their droning
rhythmic lessons from Sonic Youth bassist Kim Gordon, but
instead of crafting rock suites, Imperial Teen presses the
same sonics into the mold of an accessible pop song.
The results are exhilarating and smart. As the Austin
Chronicle's Raoul Hernandez said, Imperial Teen is the
Talking Heads as Nirvana was the Sex Pistols. It's the
same shtick running backwards on the same rock 'n' roll
road, and it's exciting.
MMMSXSW: The Sheridans, a Pretenders-like Austin band,
ran an ad in the SXSW program book that read, “In
celebration of their third annual rejection from SXSW, the
Sheridans are taking it to the street. Hey, it worked for
Indeed, Tulsa's own hit trio was discovered via SXSW in
1994. The brothers three didn't have a showcase; instead,
they wandered among spectators at a music-business softball
game, harmonizing for anyone who would listen.
“You know, people were smiling at them cutely and
laughing when they walked away. I don't think anybody
really listened to their singing,'' Christopher Sabec told
the Austin American-Statesman. Sabec was the one person who
listened and realized the Hansons had hit potential. He
rushed to talk to their parents about managing the boys,
and the rest is history.
Year of the Woman: Women dominated the annual Austin
Music Awards this year, held on the first night of the SXSW
music festival. One woman, in particular, Austin native
Abra Moore swept the top awards, winning Musician of the
Year, best album (“Strangest Places,'' Arista), best song
(“Four-Leaf Clover'') and best pop artist. Shawn Colvin
came in second behind Moore in each of those categories,
but Colvin won for best songwriter and best single (both
for “Sunny Came Home'').
Other awards of note: best electric guitarist, Ian
Moore; best female vocals, Toni Price; best male vocals,
Malford Millgan of Storyville; best country artist, Don
Walser; best alternative band, El Flaco (Sixteen Deluxe
came in second); and the Hall of Fame inductees were Shawn
Colvin, Doyle Bramhall, Daniel Johnston, Keith Ferguson and
Respite From Rock: Thursday night's Daemon Records
showcase provided the ultimate break from the rigors of
other rock. Daemon is the Atlanta-based indie label started
by Amy Ray of the Indigo Girls, and the star performer in
the line-up was one Ray watched with intensity.
Her name is Terry Binion, and her debut release,
“Leavin' This Town,'' already has been reviewed by
publications as diverse as People and No Depression. She's
a lone singer-guitarist who warbles in that range-jumping
singing style Nanci Griffith once dubbed “folkabilly.''
During her Thursday show, she played a song called
“Dear Richard,'' which she explained was her ode to a
night in the life of fellow Americana performer Richard
Buckner. It was the perfect tribute, her reedy voice
lurching between roars and coos much like Buckner himself.
“Are these the songs that you write out on the prairie
/ with the moon over your genius head brightly shining,''
Band to Watch: The band of the festival that simply
screamed “Next Big Hit'' hails from just up the turnpike
from Tulsa in Stockton, Mo. It's Flick, a quartet of very
green but hardy teen-agers with style and panache oozing
from between their power chords.
Oh, they've got their share of teen-age angst, but they
radiate such spirit and energy that tames the whiny beast.
Imagine the Smashing Pumpkins covering ballads by the
Led by the Thornton brothers — Oran, 18, and Trevor, 14 --
Flick has a freshly scrubbed look and fuzzy rock sound that
is destined to shoot them too high too fast. They're
already writing songs for the radio; Flick closed its
Thursday night set before a huge, responsive crowd with
Oran singing, “This is my song for the radio / want the
world to know.''
Flick's debut disc should be out in June from Columbia
Eyes of Texas: Every March, Austin experiences its own brand of madness
By Thomas Conner 03/22/1998
AUSTIN, Texas — A shower would have ruined the whole
Straight from eight hours on the road — grubby,
bleary-eyed, irritable and scatter-brained — we stumble
into, of all places, the Bates Motel. It's Wednesday night
in Austin, the first night of the South by Southwest music
festival, a veritable flea market of new, young bands with
a lot to prove (Flick, Sixteen Deluxe) and old, old bands
begging for continued respect (Tommy Tutone, Soul Asylum).
One such relatively new band with a lot to prove is
Billy Joe Winghead, a quartet comprising slightly askew
residents of Tulsa and Oklahoma City. At their official
SXSW showcase tonight, they have to prove that they can
draw a crowd and keep it — even people as bedraggled as I
am, longing for fresh sheets and hot water rather than the
club's stale cigarette haze and lukewarm beer.
However, Billy Joe Winghead's lead singer, John Manson,
is going into the gig with a different plan.
“We like to have the opposite effect. We want to clear
the room. Faster than pepper gas, if we can,'' he says, his
maniacal grin stretching horrifically underneath his Uncle
Fester bald head.
With that objective in mind, he's not going to have much
to work with. As the band takes the small, harshly lit
stage, they look out over a paltry crowd of about a dozen
disinterested faces. Again, it's the first night of the
festival. All the industry people are across town at the
Austin Music Awards, and the townies still have to go to
work in the morning. But eventually, Manson's plan to
evacuate the club will backfire.
Of course, if anyone could clear a room, Billy Joe
Winghead is the band to do it. Their kind of rock 'n' roll
used to reverberate from behind a chain-link safety screen.
They named their debut disc after a truck stop, and the
distorted guitar chords don't crunch as much as they stomp.
They sing songs about drug-induced car accidents, aging sex
queens, crooked cops and tractor pulls. And they do it
very, very loudly.
But these are the desensitized '90s. Such topics don't
frighten the gentlefolk anymore. Instead of clearing out
the dingy little Bates Motel, Billy Joe Winghead fills it
up. They start playing five minutes before their scheduled
starting time (“We will now be the first band to play this
year's South by Southwest,'' Manson declares as he starts
“C'mon I Wanna Lay Ya''), and throughout the band's
40-minute set, people stream through the door.
“Who is this?'' asks a smartly dressed Kate Winslet
look-alike. I do my best to explain over the roar of the
song “Peckerbelly.'' She looks and listens another moment
longer and says, “They're so creepy. I love it.''
Indeed, this is the kind of sleaze you wind up wallowing
in. My own whiny pangs for a respite from road weariness
were satiated not by the meager comforts of hotel room
isolation but by the bone-rattling thwacks of Tulsan Steve
Jones' bass and Manson's glitter-green theremin (an eerie
contraption that does as much to fascinate an audience as
the band's own bawdiness). The music's tawdriness, boldness
and spookiness fill a club with vibrations that relax the
most exhausted road warrior, whether he be a truck drivin'
man or a pop critic on the dole. Shower? Who needs it? We
must revel in our revulsion.
Whether tonight's exposure will reap the band any
rewards remains to be seen. The band cleared the bar only
when they stopped playing. The crowd included at least one
booking agent and some industry types towed by Ray Seggern,
music director at Tulsa's KMYZ, 104.5 FM, himself an Austin
native. Manson is keeping a cool head.
“I've been through this South by Southwest hoop before,
and I'm not expecting miracles. The fact that we had time
to set up and got to play right in the middle of the action
is enough reward for me,'' he said.
The band kicked around the rest of the week and was
scheduled to play a wedding on Saturday. Yikes.
A Tulsa Sampler
By Thomas Conner 03/22/1998
AUSTIN, Texas — The bright yellow sign outside Maggie
Mae's said, “Come hear the Tulsa Sound!'' It enticed the
throngs of music lovers off the sidewalks of Sixth Street --
Austin's main drag and the heart of the South by Southwest
music festival — and into the club featuring the first of
several bills packed with Tulsans.
Dave Percefull and Bud Barnes organized the festival
line-up through Percefull's Tulsa-based music company,
Yellow Dog Productions. The bill featured bluesy rockers
Steve Pryor, Brad Absher and Brandon Jenkins, as well as a
sister pop duo called Eden. For five hours late Wednesday
night and late Thursday afternoon, the four acts rotated
across the stage in the rooftop loft of Maggie Mae's club.
The Tulsa Sound it was — Absher's smooth, loosened-tie
blues; Pryor's hard-livin', cleansing blues of a true
axman, and Jenkins' muddy wheatfield country blues.
During Jenkins' first set Wednesday night, Pryor
sashayed around the sparse room playing air guitar. He
later commented, “Ever notice how the guys who can play
the hell out of a guitar never get the record deals?''
It was a question intended to compliment Jenkins, but it
spoke volumes toward the plight of these three players,
each incredibly tight and accomplished musicians who have
been slogging through the Tulsa club scene for years
without any greater reward outside the city limits. But
that's what these two showcases were for, Percefull said.
“I can't think of anyone in Tulsa who deserves to have
fingers pointed at them in front of record industry people
quite like these guys,'' Percefull said.
Percefull and Barnes landed the choice timeslots and
location when another record company pulled its showcases
out of the festival at the last minute. Percefull, who
plays guitar with Jenkins' band and has been trying to grab
a stage at the festival for several years, heard about the
cancellation, contacted the organizers and gave a loud,
“Ahem!'' That led to not just one night featuring four
acts, but two nights in a row.
“We lucked out, big time,'' Percefull said.
Rounding out the Tulsa Sound was Eden, a haunting pop
group made of sisters Sharla and Angie Pember. Sharla backs
her sister's vocals with alternating piano and acoustic
guitar, and the two blend their voices into evocative
harmonies. Together, they sound like Sarah McLachlan's
multi-track studio recordings, but they're creating the
dreamy mood live with two voices.
The Yellow Dog showcase got the most out of its
location, too. Maggie Mae's loft opens onto a popular
rooftop loft made even more popular by this week's warm
weather in Austin. Plus, the bathrooms for the large club
were upstairs, so eventually everyone at Maggie Mae's
walked by the Tulsa players. Hey, they come down to here to
be seen and heard, right? They'll take the exposure any way
Prefab? Another Lennon Goes Into the Rock Wilderness
By Thomas Conner 03/27/1998
AUSTIN, Texas — Saturday, at the South by Southwest music
festival, was a hard day's night. After pundits debated the
remaining relevance of Paul McCartney, Sean Lennon wowed a
star-struck crowd with his meandering and pretty
The young Lennon seems more interested in his parents'
Beach Boys records than the records of his parents. Oh,
there are flashes of “Revolver''-era John here and there,
but Sean has carved out his own sound right from the start.
It has more to do with jazz than John and it's more Pat
Metheny than Paul McCartney.
Unfortunately, like Metheny, it's not exactly
captivating to a large audience. The club, Austin's
Cain's-sized Liberty Lunch, was packed with eager fans at
the beginning of Sean's Saturday night set, but many left
Sean and his backing band, the unusually subdued Cibo
Matto, clumsily wound through some complicated material — a
few breezy pop tunes (as breezy as the heavy bass and
Sean's low-end guitar could get), a little post-Beatles
electric R&B and a lot of roomy rock-jazz. When he played
guitar, he sounded like the son of Santana, and when he
sang he sounded like Red House Painters' Mark Kozelek --
soft, overly breathy and slightly out of his range. All in
all, intriguing stuff that will demand careful listening
(read: a sizeable cult following).
John would be proud, surely, but John is dead. We know
this for certain. McCartney we're not so sure about. Thus
the Saturday afternoon panel discussion titled “So IS Paul
Dead?'' which attempted to assess the relative worth of
McCartney's checkered post-Beatles solo career.
The panel, which included a spectrum of resumes from
songwriters Tommy Keene and Vic Chesnutt to journalists Jim
DeRogatis and Michael Azerrad, not surprisingly was evenly
divided and came to few conclusions.
DeRogatis, rock critic for the Chicago Sun-Times, led
the charge by insisting that McCartney is “to 16-year-olds
today, the one who put that damned 'Yesterday' song in the
“To many kids, he's Sinatra. He's the target of
rebellion. You play rock now to not be like him,'' he
No matter how much support was voiced for McCartney's
latest album, “Flaming Pie'' (and its one stunning song,
the George Martin-touched “Calico Skies''), the discussion
always came back around to “Ebony and Ivory,'' his sappy
1982 phoned-in duet with Stevie Wonder that he will never
It was uncomfortable watching this heated debate rage
basically behind McCartney's back, but the very existence
of the panel and the sparking of the debate did more to
answer the question on the panel's title than any carefully
crafted barb. The reports of his death, it seems, have been
Austin City Limits: A South by Southwest Diary
By Thomas Conner 03/27/1998
AUSTIN, Texas — Four days, about 850 shows to see.
Somehow this year, the crowds at the annual South by
Southwest music festival were smaller and the shows were
better, which probably goes hand-in-hand. Also, there
weren't as many must-see bands on the schedule. That
allowed for more wandering and exploring, which is the best
thing the festival can offer. I tried to see as many cool
new acts and veterans as I could, and I've got the aching
calves to prove it. Here's a round-up of my subjective,
serendipitous stumbles through the South by Southwest
Sonic Serenade: With no bandwagons to jump onto this
year, like last year's electronica buzz, the most
interesting stuff being plied was experimental pop. The
last-minute scheduling of Sonic Youth provided the perfect
balance to trippy pop explorers like Imperial Teen, Apples
in Stereo and the fascinating but doomed-to-obscurity
Olivia Tremor Control. Even Sean Lennon veers away from his
dad's succinctness and essays jazzier, more expansive sonic
experimentation. Of course, his backing band is Cibo Matto,
so he couldn't remain exactly accessible.
Break on Through: 14-year-old Trevor Thornton simply
drips rock stardom, from the tattered-but-swank
floor-length fur coat he wore to the Friday night showcases
to the completely green and vulnerable look on his face as
he sings. He fronts the band Flick with his guitarist older
brother, Oran. Together with their made-for-MTV looks and
their immense sense of style, this Stockton, Mo.-based band
is destined for at least 15 proverbial minutes. The
quartet's Thursday night showcase was dogged by sound
problems, but no one cared; they simply put on too
enthralling a Big Rock Show. Imagine the Pooh Sticks with
Smashing Pumpkins production levels. Get ready.
Route 66 is nowhere near: Sporting an Australian ranger
hat and a quite rugged red-plaid pullover, English
folksinger Billy Bragg spent Friday pitching his latest
project — an album of lost Woody Guthrie songs recorded with
Wilco, due in June and titled “Mermaid Avenue.'' At his
Waterloo Records in-store gig, he was introduced by Robyn
Hitchcock, and he sang a tear-jerking
politics-made-personal lyric that Guthrie had scribbled
into the margins of a notebook, “She Comes Along to Me''
(“It never could have happened if the women hadn't entered
into the deal / like she came along to me''). He still
promises a Tulsa date on the fall tour in support of the
Guthrie album. Save your pennies and pay whatever he
OK, Maybe It Does: Once the oldies licks being passed
off as country finally oozes out of Nashville, the industry
will discover that the roots of American country music have
been kept alive in Oklahoma. Two nights of showcases at the
Waterloo Ice House gave a sneak peak at the bands that are
archiving these down-home sentiments. Red-dirt pioneers Tom
Skinner, Greg Jacobs and Bob Childers spun their tales with
more precision than usual. Michael Fracasso, the plains'
answer to Chris Isaak, made up for his overly simple lyrics
with astonishing subtlety and suppleness. Austin-based Okie
Jimmy Lafave played a few of his bluesy-boogie classics.
Finally, the Red Dirt Rangers capped off the fiesta with a
typically satisfying set despite technical problems with
multi-instrumentalist Benny Craig's steel guitar. And what
a Texas following all these Okies have; the club stayed
packed till nearly 4 a.m. each night. Also, Stillwater's
Great Divide played an official showcase Thursday night at
the hub for country music, the Continental Club. Look for
the band's debut soon on Atlantic Records.
Deluxe treatment: Their twisted, gnarled My Bloody
Valentine kind of pop is sometimes difficult to digest, but
the Saturday night show by Sixteen Deluxe was the most
amazing spectacle. An intrepid projectionist ran four 16mm
film projectors onto the band and the sheet behind them,
providing smartly choreographed eye candy (explosions,
shimmering water, sun flares, kaleidoscopic mouths) during
the full-bore set. Near the end of the set, Robyn Hitchcock
joined the band for a driving rendition of Lou Reed's
“Vicious.'' Soon, lead singer and guitarist Carrie Clark
was jabbing out her last guitar solo while crowd-surfing.
Much mania and mayhem. They'll be here in April. Don't miss
Visible Hitchcock: Oddball Brit Robyn Hitchcock was
everywhere during this year's fest, from introducing Billy
Bragg's in-store show to guesting with Sixteen Deluxe. His
own shows are always fascinating. At Waterloo Records on
Saturday, he played a delightfully trippy acoustic set with
violinist Deni Bonet, including such standards as “Madonna
of the Wasps'' and “Arms of Love'' plus two hilarious new
ones: about Gene Hackman (“and when he smiles / it means
trouble somewhere'') and “Viva Seattle-Tacoma'' (“they've
got the best computers and coffee and smack''). A fan gave
him a plastic tomato. “It doesn't say Texas on the
bottom,'' Hitchcock said, examining the vegetable. “It
says, 'Signs Point to No.' '' Get it? His new disc is due
He's Alright, and So Are the Kids: The Wainwright family
was in town for the festival — and that's not a new sitcom
bunch. Loudon Wainwright III was hyping his latest and most
fully realized album to date, “Little Ship.'' His showcase
before a packed university ballroom was witty as ever,
focusing on the subject of families and kids and thus
comprising a veritable Cosby-esque “Loudon Wainwright:
Himself.'' Most of the topical material came from the new
record (“Bein' a Dad,'' the moving “Four Mirrors''), but
he took a couple of appropriate requests (“Hitting You,''
“Baby in the House''). He remains astonishingly
underappreciated. Son Rufus Wainwright in the tradition of
Ben Folds Five.
And then there were ...: The windows of Maggie Mae's on
Thursday night were coated with dripping, freshly hacked
lung secretions. A ferocious punk band, Human Alert from
Amsterdam, tore through a set of fierce noise and bravado,
spitting on everything and everyone. One of the three lead
singers wore a beaten leather jacket with the
self-contradictory slogan “Master of Anarchy'' painted
across the back. ... Fastball's “The Way'' already has
conquered modern rock radio, but this Austin band has
plenty more hit songs to come. They played many of them at
an acoustic in-store show Saturday afternoon and their
capacity show that night at La Zona Rosa. They also have
going for them what Third Eye Blind somehow (and unfairly)
missed: critical respect. ... Jonathan Fire*Eater is the
best garage-club band in the country. Lead singer Stewart
Lupton stumbled through his band's raucous set like a drunk
Stanley Laurel, and he sang with such exciting desperation,
as if singing was the only thing keeping him remotely
lucid. Hot stuff. ... The theme nights this year were a
bust. The only time eyes were smiling Thursday at Maggie
Mae's Irish Night was during the Frank and Walters spunky
power pop set. Japan Night, Friday at the Tropical Isle,
was a dud compared to last year's mania. Also, Rock en
Espanol at Maggie Mae's West was wholly indistinct. Each
band was just another forgettable modern rock band who
happened to sing in Spanish, like Miami's Volumen Cero.
Pop's Tops Flock to South by Southwest
By Thomas Conner 03/28/1998
Depending on who you ask, South by Southwest is either
the most important event in the music industry or the most
embarrassing evidence of said industry's laziness and greed
Both viewpoints are pretty much on the money. Being part
of that evil liberal media to which the festival caters
ever so kindly, you won't be surprised to hear that I vote
the former. This annual bridal fair of pop music's best and
burgeoning is still the only time each year when the bulk
of the music industry and its press are gathered together
to actually ask, “What's new?'' Deals are still made at
this behemoth, and stars rise out of Austin every year.
Here's a bit of call-and-response answering some of the
questions and criticisms of the best time an expense
account can buy:
What the heck is this thing, anyway, and why does the
Tulsa World pay it any mind?
South by Southwest is, as Alternative Press editor Jason
Pettigrew so wisely stated it this year, the spring break
of the music industry. Journalists and music biz types go
down to Austin for four or five days, spending someone
else's money, talk a lot of crap and wear badges that grace
them with a rarely bestowed V.I.P. status. And don't forget
the endless buckets of free barbecue and beer. We wear out
our trendy black shoes striding between downtown clubs
every hour on the hour trying to see the latest buzz band
or the most interesting confection.
Hopefully, we see something worthwhile and we do what we
do in our respective professions to help make some noise
about it. It's all about making noise, from the actual
music to this ink. Plus, if Tulsa bands are part of the
fiesta, by God, I'll be there.
No one actually gets signed or in any way propelled
forward as a result of SXSW.
In a word: Hanson. Tulsa's own mega-star trio proved
that just being near the festival can be the first step
toward taking over the planet. In 1994, the brothers three
wandered among the crowd at an industry-only softball game,
singing for anyone that looked remotely interested. This
impromptu performance grabbed the attention of Christopher
Sabec, who rushed to talk to the Hanson parents behind the
bleachers. You know the rest of the story. If it can happen
to three smooth-faced doo-woppers, it can happen to punk
bands and performance artists.
Need more proof? Here are some acts that were discovered
— at least by the music press — at SXSW: Green Day ('93), the
Toadies ('92), the Gin Blossoms ('89), Big Head Todd and
the Monsters ('90), Lisa Loeb ('93), Ani DiFranco ('92) and
Veruca Salt ('94).
Each showcase is about 40 minutes long, and there are
too many going all at once. How can any artist hope to
discovered out of that?
First, the actual showcase is not what helps your band.
That's purely entertainment for the club-crawlers. South by
Southwest is not about actually seeing music as it is
talking about it. The deals go down in the convention
center trade show, at the record company parties, at the
chance meetings here and there. The priority is to meet
people and — dare I say the word? — network. Learn from the
Hanson experience. Just being there and being brave enough
to stand out, that's what puts contracts on your tabletop.
It's only for signed bands. Unsigned bands can't ever
Indeed, if you ain't from Austin, cowpoke, and you ain't
got a record deal, chances are you ain't getting an
official showcase. Unsigned bands are a rarity, but they're
there (case in point: Tulsa and Oklahoma City's Billy Joe
Winghead this year), and the bulk of bands are on indie
labels, which still means no one likely has heard of them.
Frustrated applicants should keep in mind, though, that
South by Southwest aims for a level of professionalism a
notch or two above your basic talent show. Also, if Tulsa
bands want more clout in this kind of arena, someone's got
to get off their keister and launch a credible indie label
here. We've got to walk it like we talk it.
How can they call it a new-music festival when they
bring in such huge acts?
If you booked a festival of 845 Billy Joe Wingheads, do
you think it would attract more than 6,000 industry types
and another 6,000 journalists? The harsh reality is that
you've got to seed the thing with some known names or no
one will come and chance upon the undiscovered gem. Gotta
get used to riding those coattails.
It's just an excuse for critics to get together and feel
important on someone else's tab.
And the problem with this is ... ?
By Thomas Conner
© Tulsa World
Someone just had to have the Dwight Twilley rubber
stamp. She's probably got it by now, too, and is currently
stamping all her correspondence, memos and personal papers
with the old Dwight Twilley band logo. And she's happy as
The stamp is just one of many such vintage trinkets
available for sale on Twilley's new web site
(http:/members.aol.com/Twillex/), in the Twilley Store.
Twilley — the Tulsa pop star noted for such hits as 1975's
“I'm on Fire'' and 1984's “Girls'' — set up the site as a
way to communicate directly with his fans and to clear out
his inventory of rubber stamps, old stickers, Dwight
Twilley pendants and classic posters. Oh, and records,
“I've just always kept really good archives,'' Twilley
said this week. “I was digging through some video stuff a
while back and found some old films that I had transferred
to video. One of them turned out to be a rehearsal film of
the Dwight Twilley Band preparing for the 1977 tour. I
think it was shot at Channel 8. It's real nice footage of
us clowning around. That's a big seller. People have got to
have that one.''
Yessir, to a certain segment of bright-eyed pop fans,
Twilley hung the moon. He was, after all, a big-shot on
radio for a good decade. He claimed Tom Petty as a close,
personal friend. People in other countries know who Twilley
is. Heck, he performed on “American Bandstand'' three
So he must be a big, untouchable star, right? Probably
just sits at home on a pile of royalty money, playing
around with his web site.
Nah. Since Twilley returned home to Tulsa a few years
ago, he's let everyone know that he's just another Tulsa
musician. He mostly sits at home writing new songs and
enjoying the lift the recent resurgence in power-pop has
given his career.
He hopes to further prove the point with this weekend's
shows — two in a row at Steamroller Blues and BBQ, with the
raucous Brian Parton and his Nashville Rebels opening each
“I like to get out every now and then and play, just
like anyone else. It's not feasible to get out an play
clubs every weekend, but I play when I can ... I kind of
get jealous when my friends — all musicians — are talking
about their Friday-Saturday gigs around town. I wanted one,
especially because most of the shows we've been doing
lately are the big Balloon Fest and centennial shows. I
just wanted to get out and be one of the guys. I'm a Tulsa
musician, too,'' Twilley said.
The Twilley band this time around will include Tom
Hanford and Jerry Cooper on guitars, Dave White on bass,
Bill Padgett on drums and Twilley's longtime stand-by
percussionist Jerry Naifeh.
Fans ought to enjoy the live performances while they
can. Twilley is currently considering a contract with a
record label to record a new album. Since his rousing
performance at last year's South by Southwest music
conference perked up the ears of scouts, some major labels
have been toying with the idea of signing Twilley. At this
point, though, Twilley said he just wants to put out a
“I've got a lot of songs building up,'' he said. “If
this goes through, we'll probably be out from in front of
the microphone for a while.''
Meanwhile, you can check out some of those new songs on
the cassette packages available on the Twilley Store. And
don't forget those key rings. And the imprinted vinyl
editions. And the ...
With Brian Parton and the Nashville Rebels 10:30 p.m.
Friday and Saturday Steamroller Blues and BBQ
1732 S. Boston Ave. $5 at the door
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.