Lucky fans of Hanson are 'armed'
BY THOMAS CONNER
© Tulsa World
At least one mother could sing about it.
As she ushered her young daughter into the Drug Mart at
32nd Street and Yale Avenue to get one of the cherished
Hanson concert-ticket wristbands, she sang, “MMMBop / Is
it worth it? / MMMBop / I really hope so / MMMBop / Oh,
brother . . .''
Hanson fans of every age were lined up outside — and
around — eight Carson Attractions ticket outlets Thursday
morning for a crack at the wristbands, which became
available at noon. Some had arrived as early as 3 a.m.
determined to get tagged with the bright pink and orange
wristbands that guarantee a spot in line when tickets for
the Hanson concert go on sale at 9 a.m. Saturday.
A concert by the Tulsa-native hit trio Hanson is
scheduled for July 8 at the Mabee Center. The Tulsa concert
is the only show scheduled in the Midwest.
Hanna Willsey, 10, was the first in line at the Maxwell
Convention Center, decked out in her Hanson T-shirt and a
necklace with beads that spelled out Hanson. She and a
friend, Valerie Grannemann, 13, arrived outside the
Convention Center at 5 a.m.
“I'm glad school is out, but I would've missed school,
anyway,'' Valerie said, jumping up and down.
Jack Tubb at least had some leafy shade to stand in
about halfway down the line at the Convention Center. He
plans to buy some tickets for his granddaughter. She'll be
visiting from Kentucky when Hanson appears here, and — shhh --
it's a surprise.
As noon approached, the Convention Center crowd began
clapping and chanting, “12 o'clock! 12 o'clock!'' By then,
the line stretched a good 100 yards out the building's
The wristbands are the first step in the ticket-buying
process for the big show. A wristband does not guarantee a
ticket, only a place in line Saturday morning.
Ticket outlets were turning away hundreds of fans as
their stock of wristbands quickly dwindled and ran out.
Some frustrated fans hurried to other locations, but nearly
every outlet had given away all the wristbands by 2:15
“I don't know what we're going to do,'' said Verna
Smith, the mother of two pouting young girls. They were
turned away from the Mabee Center, where an estimated 1,000
fans stood in a line that wrapped almost all the way around
the building — all vying for the 350 wristbands available at
that site. “I'm not sure my girls will forgive me if they
miss this show,'' she said.
Some crowds got a bit unruly. James McCarthy, manager of
the Drug Mart at 31st Street and 129th East Avenue, said he
had to call the police to help deal with a mob that started
pushing and shoving.
“We had about 400 people out there and only about 175
wristbands to give out. I thought we were going to have a
problem, but everybody was pretty nice when it was all said
and done,'' he said.
Glenn Smith of Glenn Smith Presents, the show's
promoter, said his company has tried-and-true formulas to
determine how many wristbands to make available.
“There are enough for one show, and 85 to 90 percent of
the people who got wristbands should get tickets,'' Smith
said. “It's not like paper money that we print until it's
worthless. We've figured out how many should be at each
location given the number of terminals there, the fact that
each wristband holder can buy up to four tickets and our
guess that about 15 percent of the tickets will be sold by
Smith handled last summer's five concerts by Garth
Brooks and used the same procedure then.
Hanson fans quickly purchase 8,000 tickets for Tulsa's July concert
BY THOMAS CONNER
© Tulsa World
Armed police officers patrolled the line. Men with
hand-held radios and clipboards checked off the numbers of
the desperate refugees. When the signal came, everyone
screamed. A child was torn from her mother.
Sound like a war zone? It was just the Mabee Center on
Saturday morning as tickets went on sale for the July 8
Like any military skirmish, too, there were winners and
losers and lots of cries to pity the children. But for
those frustrated by the ticketing procedure and their
inability to get tickets, it all boils down to a simple,
military answer: There were only about 8,000 tickets and
only time for one show.
“We could have sold three shows here easily,'' Glenn
Smith said Saturday morning after all 8,000 tickets had
been sold. “It looks like about 85 percent of everyone
with a wristband got tickets.''
Smith, the show's promoter, said, “We still turned
thousands away. . . . You just don't know when you're
planning a show like this in advance — scheduling the venues
and the transportation and such — what kind of demand there
will be. Who could have imagined eight months ago that
there would be this kind of demand?''
Smith relayed a message from the Hanson boys themselves:
“We will be back as soon as we possibly can.''
A second show can't be added because of the tour
scheduling, Smith said. Also, the Mabee Center is booked
the following night.
Tickets went on sale at 9 a.m. Saturday at eight Carson
Attractions outlets and via a toll-free telephone number.
They were all gone by 9:58 a.m.
Despite having their place in line already guaranteed by
their numbered wristbands, fans began gathering at the
Mabee Center box office as early as 4 a.m. By 6 a.m., they
lined up in the order of the numbers on their wristbands
and eagerly awaited the random drawing that would determine
the first place in line.
At 8 a.m. sharp, the number was called: 227.
Summer Smith, 14, and her friends halfway down the line
began squealing hysterically. The line ahead of her — now
full of fallen faces, young and old — was moved to the rear,
and Summer stepped up to the door.
Ironically, Summer's mother, Teresa, had wristband No.
225. She had to head to the very back of the line, while
her daughter stepped front and center. Mom took the twist
with good spirits.
“I was the one who brought all these girls here, who
waited in line with them, who spent the night out here,''
Front and center is exactly where Summer will be on July
8, too. Her first spot in line scored her and her friends
front-row seats. They're probably still screaming.
Others at the back of the line had a few choice words
about their predicament. The ticketing procedure required
fans first to obtain numbered wristbands. A drawing was
held Saturday morning at each ticket outlet to determine
the first place in line.
“Dedication doesn't pay,'' said Sue Smith, an
end-of-the-line mother buying for her daughter in
California. “If you sit out here from 3 a.m. because you
care about these guys, you should get a ticket. This didn't
alleviate people from camping out. They were still spending
the night to get wristbands. What difference did it make?''
“Concerts have always been sold first come-first
serve,'' one mother, LeAnn Rose, who was next in line,
said. “It's not fair to these kids. They're the ones who
will be the most crushed by it.''
Smith said he devised this procedure early on for other
high- demand shows like Garth Brooks. He said he would
rather bring it all down to luck of the draw than risk
having kids injured in a mad rush or lose out to scalpers.
“It's the fairest way,'' he said. “If we had done it
first come-first serve, we'd have scalpers — not fans --
camping out for weeks ahead of time. Mothers wouldn't let
their kids do that, but scalpers don't have lives — they can
afford to beat you in that game. This gives everyone an
equal chance to be first. Unfortunately, not everyone can
be first, but I don't know a better way.''
One Carson Attractions employee predicted early on that
Saturday would be a short work day.
“This will sell out really quickly,'' the employee said
Thursday. “It's still not as big a crowd as we get for
(professional) wrestling tickets, though.''
Hanson ticket trauma
BY THOMAS CONNER
© Tulsa World
Two girls. One ticket.
Oh, the dilemma.
Victoria Rodriguez, 15, stood in line for four hours
back in May for wristbands to purchase tickets, but she --
and thousands of other fans — came up short. Rodriguez,
however, managed to find one ticket through a friend a few
weeks after the quick sellout.
Good news for her, surely, but a friend of hers, Lili
Lambert, 14, traveled here from Germany just to see her --
and the Hansons.
"The girls are at the Hansons' house today in southwest
Tulsa, hoping to see them and find another ticket," said
Rodriguez's mother, Nila Estradda. "We found one from a
scalper for $175, but that's just too much."
For the time being, Estradda said, Victoria gets the
ticket for Wednesday's show.
Rodriguez met Lambert last year through the Internet.
They chatted online nearly every day, Estradda said, until
Lambert and her parents came to visit in mid-June. The trip
was to unite the new friends and let them explore the
hometown of Hanson in hopes of finding . . . something.
"They are fanatics, both," Estradda said.
Hanson — the Tulsa trio of Isaac, Taylor and Zac that
scored a No. 1 hit last year with "MMMBop" from the group's
debut album, "Middle of Nowhere" — is scheduled to play a
concert at 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Mabee Center, 8100 S.
Lewis Ave. The show sold out in less than an hour when
tickets went on sale May 30.
While Hanson may be hot, so are their fans.
One of them was on Monday, anyway. That morning, disc
jockeys at radio station KRAV, 96.5 FM, asked listeners,
"What's the craziest thing you would do for passes to meet
Hanson?" Lonnie Dugan called in with his bright idea — to
ride around town on his Harley-Davidson motorcycle wearing
a clown suit — and the station took him up on it.
Dugan is a fan of Harleys, not Hanson, but his daughter --
like most young girls in the hit trio's hometown — is more
interested in "Three Car Garage," Hanson's latest album.
Dugan's idea won his daughter and her cousin two
hard-to-find tickets to the show plus backstage passes.
"They're definitely happy campers," Dugan said.
He found out, though, just how hot a ticket this concert
is. Dugan donned the clown suit and set off among rush-hour
traffic — shortly after the air temperature reached its high
mark of 99 degrees Monday.
"I ride an old Harley, and it runs pretty hot. The heat
outside didn't make it any better," he said.
At least 8,000 fans — plus hundreds of others just hoping
for a glimpse of the blond boys — are expected to descend on
the Mabee Center for the show.
Another Tulsa band, Admiral Twin, has been on the tour
with Hanson for nearly a month. This power pop band — which
includes drummer Jarrod Gollihare, author of Hanson: The
Official Biography — will open the Tulsa show.
By Thomas Conner
© Tulsa World
"Three Car Garage: The Indie Recordings"
After one year on the international scene, Hanson somehow has seen fit to look back at its roots. It's an extraordinarily premature move that smacks of market milking, but then again, they might be playing the fleeting game of pop smarter than anyone.
It also airs what now could be viewed as pre-fame ruminitions on Hansonmania in the media, like the chorus of “Stories'' (“Stories will be told until we're old / Stories will be told until the end of time'') or a line from “River'': “Lately we've been talking 'bout who we are / Seems we don't know anymore.''
This collection of songs from the boys' two Tulsa indie records is interesting if only to get a glimpse of the band from the perspective of another singer. It's Isaac singing lead on most of the 11 tracks here — and doing a surprisingly formidable job. Hearing his bold vocals on “Pictures'' and the exquisite ballad “Surely as the Sun,'' as well as his green-but-growing guitar work throughout, you can't help but wonder how the band would have fared had business types not put the more soulful (and, sure, more fetching) Taylor out front. It could have been a wholly different, grittier guitar band.
But even though the 11-year-old Taylor sounds like a mosquito here, his immense talent is already evident. He takes the entire lyric of “Stories'' and makes it come from him, not through him, adapting every turn of phrase and every breath to his inate control. His voice may not be deep, but his soul is an ocean.
Two songs from “Middle of Nowhere'' (“Thinking of You,'' “With You in Your Dreams'') are here in unpolished freshness, but a nascent version of the signature “MMMBop'' is a five-minute drag. Overall, it's a remarkably unaffected batch of pop songs that brims with a bright-eyed innocence the radio hasn't seen in two decades. Play on, boys.
By Thomas Conner
© Tulsa World
We've told the story of Leon Russell in these pages
numerous times. Thus far, it's been a process of piecing
together bits of well-known history and the accounts of
those who knew Leon and hung around — or on — him during his
beginnings here in Tulsa and his ultimate international
fame. Not since Leon had a Tulsa address has he spoken with
the Tulsa World or, for that matter, many press outlets at
This week — since he's comin' back to Tulsa just
one more time — the artist known almost as much for his
shyness as his hit songs broke down and talked with us from
his home near Nashville about his new album and his
much-mystified roots and days in Tulsa. It was an eagerly
awaited conversation that set a few records straight and
shed new light on the shadowy mystique of the master of
space and time.
Home Sweet Oklahoma
Russell spent his formative and most successful years in
Tulsa, moving here in 1955 from Maysville, just west of
Pauls Valley, when his father was transferred. He arrived
at age 14, but that wasn't too young to start playing in
local clubs. Things were a bit different back then.
"In those days, Oklahoma was dry, and the clubs weren't
supposed to have liquor. So a 14-year-old or anybody of any
age had no problem working anywhere," Russell said. "I worked
six or seven nights a week till I left Tulsa at 17. I'd
work 6 to 11 at a beer joint, then 1 to 5 at an after-hours
club. It was a hard schedule to do when going to school. I
slept in English a lot. Then I got out to California, and
they were more serious about their liquor laws. I about
starved to death because it was so much harder to find work
at my age."
Russell remembers dozens of old Tulsa nightspots — the
House of Blue Lights, the Paradise Club, the Sheridan Club,
the Cimarron Ballroom — as well as his perennial stopover,
the Cain's Ballroom. He said he also was partial to the hot
goings-on along Greenwood Avenue.
"There was quite a scene over there. They had classier
shows than the other parts of town. There was the
Dreamland, I believe, where they had big revues every night
— traveling package shows with big stars. I saw Jackie
Wilson over there when I was very young, I think at the Big
10. Saw Bobby Bland at the Dreamland. It was quite an
In California, instead of steady gigs in clubs, Russell
found a lot of session work in recording studios, playing
piano for other musicians and singers. The list of his
contributions is nearly as impressive as his own
three-decade discography, including work with the likes of
Phil Spector, the Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton and Bob
Goin' Back to Tulsa
After cutting his first, eponymous album, Russell
returned home to Tulsa in 1972. First, he was just
visiting, but the story goes that he and a friend were
tanked up on psychedelics while in a boat on Grand Lake. A
lightning storm came up, and the boat got stuck on a sand
bar. Russell apparently found the experience so mystical
that he took it as a sign to stay in Tulsa.
"Yeah, that's not true, but it's a great story," Russell
said. Russell moved his whole recording operation to
the area, living in a big house in Maple Ridge and
recording in a huge studio on Grand Lake. His presence here
attracted numerous other big names to visit Tulsa, from
Dylan to Clapton, and the excitement the scene generated in
turn brought new local musicians out of the woodwork.
Through his label, Shelter Records, Russell helped
Tulsa-native talent like Dwight Twilley and the Gap Band
reach a higher level of success.
"That was the whole point, you know," Russell said. "There
are so many talented people around — and Tulsa maybe has
more of it than most places — but it's hard for the talented
people to get a chance. The (music) business is largely run
by accountants and lawyers. They hire people to tell them
whether stuff is good or not. It's difficult for good,
young artists to get someone standing up for them saying,
`This is a great band.' I figured I could give some people
a chance who deserved it. I mean, you know, the Wilson
brothers (in the Gap Band) are some of the most unique
talent in the world."
Anything Can Happen
Since that early '70s heyday of hits like "Delta Lady" and
"Tight Rope," Russell his lived back and forth between Los
Angeles, Tulsa and Nashville, and his career has meandered
through different styles and varying levels of commercial
success. 1974's "Stop All That Jazz" (which featured the
Wilson brothers before they became the Gap Band) dabbled in
funk and Afro-beat, and his 1992 comeback, "Anything Can
Happen" — his first record in more than a decade — featured
Bruce Hornsby and tinkered with traditional themes and
Russell's most noted stylistic side-step, though, is his
occasional masquerade as a country persona named Hank
Wilson. He first debuted Wilson in a 1973 album, "Hank
Wilson's Back." It was an excuse for this rocker to purge
his inherent Okie-born country leanings.
"Hank Wilson came about on a road trip," Russell said. "I
was bringing a car back from L.A., and I stopped at a truck
stop that had about 500 country tapes for sale. I bought a
bunch and listened to them on the way home (to Tulsa). I
don't really listen to records very much, except for
research. I liked some of that stuff, though, and thought
it would be fun to do a record like that."
Russell revisited Hank Wilson again in the early '80s,
and a third Hank Wilson record is the reason for Leon's
latest public presence. The new Ark 21 label just released
"Legend in My Own Time: Hank Wilson III," a new set of
country standards performed by Russell with such guests as
the Oak Ridge Boys ("Daddy Sang Bass"), T. Graham Brown
("Love's Gonna Live Here") and longtime Leon pal and
collaborator Willie Nelson ("He Stopped Loving Her Today" and
"Okie From Muskogee"). Nelson and Russell still work
together, performing occasional acoustic shows, but this
album marks their first recorded duet since the 1979 "Willie
and Leon" album. Ironically, the two collaborated musically
before they ever met.
"Somebody called me and said, `Joe Allison is working on
Willie's album. Would you like to play?' " Russell said. "I
went in and did some overdubs, some clean-up work, but I
didn't meet him. Years later, I was sitting with Willie at
his ranch in Austin. I said, `Listen to that guy playing
all my stuff.' As I listened to it a little more, I
realized I had played on those records. I didn't know it
and he didn't know it."
Harold Bradley, himself a legendary session musician who
served as bandleader and production assistant for the new
album, raves about the new Hank Wilson project. He said
this album has finally captured Leon's true country
"What I really like about this project is that we
captured Leon totally," Bradley said. "In the other two
albums, which I really liked too, I thought we had done
really well. But in those albums, not really having done it
before, we tried to make Leon go the Nashville way. On this
album, we went Leon's way."
Russell is equally excited about the results of the new
Hank Wilson recordings. He recorded the vocals and piano in
his home studio, then the musicians built on the framework
he had established. Guest vocals were added later; Willie
Nelson recorded his part in Austin while the Oak Ridge Boys
made a visit to Russell's home. Twenty-four songs were
recorded for this album in two days.
"Nashville is full of master players," Russell said. "I
mean you can go up to them and say, play this at this
tempo, play it as a samba, and they can play it ... They're
ready to play, and they're trained to play master quality
at all times. It's great to be able to take advantage of
that. I tried to do this rapidly, too. They get it right
the first time about 95 percent of the time, and I tried to
"The first time someone plays the tune, it's off the top
of their head. It's somewhat more free and loose than if
they'd practiced it 10 times. It gets confusing if you make
a lot of takes and you start second-guessing yourself. You
start arranging it in your mind. That first time, you play
from the heart and it has a special kind of feel. Most of
the songs (on this record) are first takes. Ten of my
vocals are first takes, and in most cases I'd never sung
the song before."
Russell usually records his own albums at home, but he
said he enjoys the chance to work with session players for
these Hank Wilson albums because — with his own background
as a session musician — he has such respect for them.
"Those years I played in studios gave me invaluable
experience," he said. "I worked with probably the best 200 or
so producers and arrangers in the world. I learned so much
from those guys. I can't imagine what it would be like not
to have that."
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.