This post contains my complete running coverage of this annual conference and festival ...
© Tulsa World
Tulsa band Fanzine gets a chance to shine at SXSW showcase
By Thomas Conner 03/19/2000
AUSTIN, Texas — The sound man at Opal Divine's Firehouse
was filling the pre-show dead time with his own selection
of classic-rock greatest hits: a couple of cuts from the
Eagles' "Long Run" album, a smattering of Zeppelin, a lot of
Journey. A few minutes before showtime, he played Cheap
Trick's live cover of "Ain't That a Shame," and Fanzine
drummer Don Jameson started air-drumming.
"Oh, yes!" he said, tapping into the song's lengthy
introductory groove. "This is what it's about, right here.
It's not, 'Won't you step back from that ledge, my friend' "
— making a face, making fun of the Third Eye Blind hit
"Jumper" — "It's about the shaking of the booty. It's about
being larger than life . . . There isn't an arena big
enough to hold us."
This weekend it wasn't arenas, just a small club patio
on the edge of Austin's hottest nightclub scene and in the
middle of its yearly music-industry lottery.
On Wednesday night, Jameson and his Tulsa-based rock
band, Fanzine, kicked off the South by Southwest music
festival, an annual congregation of music-business talent
scouts and international media all searching for the Next
Big Thing. Nearly 1,000 bands — a record — from around the
world were scheduled to play hourlong sets in clubs
throughout Austin this weekend, and Fanzine had the
daunting task of playing in the first showcase slot on the
first night of the festival. In just a few hours, and
certainly over the four days of the festival, these four
players would learn what, indeed, it was all about.
It's all about the gig
South by Southwest is basically a live-music mall.
"Buyers" from record labels, management companies and music
magazines stroll up and down Austin's nightclub-lined Sixth
Street and shop for the hottest new fashions in pop music.
So when your band is fortunate enough to land a showcase
here, you want everything to be perfect. For Fanzine,
it very nearly was.
"How lucky are we to be playing right before the
Mayflies?" Jameson asked when the band finished sound check.
The Mayflies, an up-and-coming pop band from Chapel Hill,
N.C., were listed by many SXSW forecasters as one of the
most interesting acts to see this year. They would thus be
drawing a crowd of scouts and record company reps, and many
of them would come early — and hear Fanzine.
"We're blessed tonight. This feels good," Fanzine singer
Adam said before the show.
The band arrived in Austin on Tuesday and immediately
went to work with staple guns and smiles, tacking up
posters advertising the Wednesday night gig and thrusting
handbills into the palms of any passers-by.
"We came all this way, I just want someone to see us,"
Jameson said. "Tonight's all about being seen — eyes on us."
And, of course, ears.
It's not about the gig
Still, Jameson and the other Fanzine players weren't
expecting miracles. Their set coincided with the Austin
Music Awards — a ceremony honoring the best of local talent,
much like Tulsa's Spotniks — the big event of Wednesday
night. The band's 24 hours in town wasn't a lot of time to
spread the word about its showcase. Most music reps and
media don't arrive until late Wednesday or Thursday,
anyway. "I really expect very little tonight," Jameson
said. "It's the first night, and this club's off the beaten
path, but this sure is great to put (in the press kit). It
means we've been chosen among some kind of selected upper
The World Wide Web was certainly an aid in advance
promotion. Word of the showcase spread quickly on, oddly
enough, Web sites and newsgroups for fans of the Toadies.
Plus, Tulsa radio music directors e-mailed their record
company contacts en masse, advising them of the Fanzine
One of them, KMYZ 104.5-FM music director Ray Seggern,
attended Wednesday's show. Seggern is an Austin native,
having worked with the city's popular modern rock station
for several years. He knows people, and he dragged as many
as he could with him to see the Tulsa band.
But even Seggern was realistic.
"It's not about the gig," he said. "The gig is the least
important part. (What's important) is the networking, the
experience, the mindset. Just being here and wearing a
badge is important."
Case in point: Hanson. The young Tulsa trio spent
several days at SXSW early in the '90s. Too young to even
play in the local bars, they strolled the streets and
softball-park bleachers, singing for anyone who would
listen. An astute music manager did, and the rest is
It's about support
For Fanzine's show, though, Opal Divine's was packed.
Most importantly, the crowd stayed and stared. Many SXSW
showcase audiences often are indifferent groups of jaded
music-industry mavens concentrating on wheeling and dealing
with other industry folk rather than listening to the
bands. Fanzine's crowd, though, stopped, looked and
listened. The band was on point, too. Tighter than
they've been in many months — and fueled by more adreneline,
no doubt — they tore through 40 minutes of their
groove-stuffed, flashy and unrelenting rock 'n' roll. Adam
threw off his bright orange jacket ("You like me mack?") by
the third song and was soon shaking his tambourine all over
the club's outdoor wooden deck and dancing with Beatle Bob,
an eccentric music-industry analyst who came to the show
and danced his trademark swingin' dance.
Many in Wednesday night's crowd were Tulsans, checking
out their hometown band on Austin's turf. Tim Kassen, a
Williams Company agent who also books bands for Tulsa's
Bourbon Street Cafe on 15th Street, was in town and said he
made a beeline to Fanzine's show. "Nobody performs like
Adam, with all that energy," he said. "Heck, if I had the
money, I'd sign them."
Also looking on were T.J. Green and Angie Devore, the
husband-and-wife team at the helm of new Tulsa band
Ultrafix. They weren't scheduled to play in Austin this
weekend; they came down just to attend the conference and
meet music-business folks and other musicians. They had
planned to arrive in Austin on Thursday but came a day
early to be present for the Fanzine show.
"It's all about support, man," Green said.
By George, we got us a rock show
By Thomas Conner 03/19/2000
AUSTIN, Texas — When South by Southwest occurs each
March, the Texas capital is literally overrun by music
businesspeople and musicians. How invasive is the
conference? Just ask presidential hopeful George W. Bush.
When the Texas governor realized he was going to sweep
Tuesday's second big round of Republican presidential
primaries, his campaign staff decided to book a local
ballroom to host the celebration and inevitable victory
But they couldn't find one. Every ballroom, theater and
public venue in town was booked up with SXSW events. Bush
and his supporters wound up in far northwest Austin,
patting themselves on the back in a gymnasium at the Dell
Jewish Community Campus.
Talk about rocking the vote.
Rangers in command
Storms raked the Texas hill country late Thursday
afternoon. The Ray Price show in the park surely was
doomed, so we headed for indoor shelter. The fact that it
had tortillas, margaritas and the Red Dirt Rangers made it
The Oklahoma roots-music band played the first of its
five SXSW-week gigs ("Six," Ranger John Cooper said later — "We
actually got one that pays!") at Jovita's, an authentic
Mexican restaurant south of downtown Austin.
And I mean authentic. The walls were arrayed with rich,
colorful murals, mostly depicting masked rebels in olive
drab, including a giant portrait of Che Guevera. The tables
were so sticky we had to paper them over with copies from a
stack of someone's Spanish-English poem entitled
"Crossroads." Our waitress had two breathtaking parrots
tattooed on her shoulder blades.
As the storm pelted Jovita's corrugated skylight, the
Rangers blasted through their typically invigorating set of
Okie rock 'n' soul, opening the show with two Woody Guthrie
covers, "Rangers' Command" (the title track to the Rangers'
latest CD, recorded in Austin) and "California Stars" (one of
the Woody lyrics put to music by Billy Bragg and Wilco) — a
nod to Woody's younger sister, Mary Jo Edgmon, sitting in
Also watching the Rangers was fellow Stillwater native,
now Austin-based songwriter Jimmy Lafave. The Rangers also
played his song "Red Dirt Roads," rocking it more than Lafave
probably ever envisioned and using it as a sparring match
between electric guitarist Ben Han and new steel guitarist
Roger Ray, also of Stillwater's Jason Boland and the
Stranglers. Whoops and yelps all around.
This ... is Wanda
Conversation overheard on the sidewalk outside the
Continental Club, Thursday night in the freezing cold,
waiting in vain to get inside and hear Oklahoma City
rockabilly queen Wanda Jackson:
She: "We'll never get in."
He: "They're full? At eight o'clock? Who is this woman?"
She: "I don't know. She looks like Loretta Lynn."
He: "Loretta Lynn never had a stand-up bass player like
She: "Can you see her hair?"
He: "That's all I can see. I could be back at the hotel
and still see that hair."
She: "It's not that big."
She: "Nothing. I was wrong."
Talking 'bout Tulsa
Tulsans protested the derogatory mention of the city in
a recent Best Western ad campaign, but our hometown creeps
into the world's consciousness in strange and mysterious
Take, for example, a song by Astrid, a spunky and
tuneful guitar band from Scotland. Near the end of the
band's hard-hitting showcase, they played a song called
"Cybersex," which the singer was good enough to point out "is
about cybersex." The refrain, from the point of view of the
narrative's libidinous web surfer: "It's 3 p.m. in Idlewild
/ Kansas, Tulsa, Arkansas."
Norman band Starlight Mints were lucky enough to land a
SXSW showcase this year, but it was nearly ruined by
equipment problems that delayed them 20 minutes — nearly
half of their allotted playing time. (And SXSW showcases
begin and end on time, or else.)
Still, the embryonic rock band impressed a capacity
crowd at the intimate Copper Tank North club with its
herky-jerky melodies and noises. My notes include this
absurd but revealing description of the band's music:
"Gordon Gano (Violent Femmes) singing, Thurston Moore (Sonic
Youth) on guitar, chick from the Rentals (Maya Rudolph) on
keys, all aboard a carousel at Wayne Coyne's (Flaming Lips)
For the record
While SXSW takes over Austin with live music, another of
the country's biggest musical events occurs here at the
same time. This one involves recorded music: the annual
Austin Record Convention, the largest new-and-used record
sale in the country.
Hundreds of record dealers from all over the country
huddle over tables in the Palmer Municipal Auditorium and
hawk more than a million CDs, LPs, 45s and even 78s. With
the world's music business leaders in town, these dealers
have to face a particular and knowledgeable clientele.
"This is the reissue, though. See, it's dated '92. You
don't have the '84 original with the six extra versions?"
That's pretty standard discussion fare at the
convention. One dealer from Minnesota boasted a
pristine, still-wrapped copy of former Tulsan Leon
Russell's "The Wedding Album." Asking price: $100.
A C-note? Has he heard it?
"No, but my books tell me that's a steal."
A rose by any other name ...
Part of the fun of perusing the SXSW schedule is the
humor and daring of some of the band names. The chucklers
on this year's list: Alabama Thunder Pussy, ... And You
Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead, Bastard Sons of Johnny
Cash, Betty Blowtorch, Camaro Hair, Del the Funky
Homosapien, the Dino Martinis, Fatal Flying Guilloteens, I
Am the World Trade Center, Man Scouts of America, Maximum
Coherence During Flying, the Psychedelic Kinky Fellows,
Roar! Lion, Sci-Fi Uterus and the Tremolo Beer Gut.
Food for the soul
If you want music media to come see your band, set up a
free buffet. A table of sumptuous Texas barbecue and an
absence of cash registers filled La Zona Rosa with SXSW
registrants Thursday afternoon to see the Nixons open for
Texas guitar hero Ian Moore. Greasy hands clapped for the
Nixons' timeless (as in, stuck in 1993) grunge rock.
The band sported a new record label (the showcase sponsor,
Koch Records), new songs ("P.O.V." and the wildly cheery
"Blackout") and, well, a new band. Singer Zac Malloy is the
only original Norman-native member left, having jettisoned
the rest of the crew for a new batch of Dallas-based
The Nixons started in Norman as a cover band, scored a
modern rock hit early in the '90s with "Sister" and now are
based in Dallas. A new album is due April 11.
'What about the amps?'
Austin is full of colorful, sometimes downright
eccentric, characters, so when we noticed the guy talking
to himself on Fourth Street, it was no big shock.
He stood in the hot afternoon sun, pacing in circles,
gesturing wildly and talking, talking, talking — by himself.
"What about the amps?" he kept asking. "Where are the amps?" We
skirted him just off the curb, thinking to ourselves, "So
young, and already so nuts." Then we noticed it.
The earpiece, the hidden microphone — a hands-free cell
SXSW snapshots: The high, mighty and downright loony go wild in Austin
By Thomas Conner 03/22/2000
AUSTIN, Texas — More than 30 years after his death,
musicians — and, indeed, Americans — are just now figuring
out what Woody Guthrie was about.
Greg Johnson, owner of Oklahoma City's revered Blue Door
nightclub, summed it up ably during a South by Southwest
panel discussion entitled "Made for You and Me: Woody
Guthrie's Dust Bowl Legacy."
"Woody was about freedom and community," Johnson said. "He
was about propping people up. Bruce Springsteen used to say
it this way: 'Woody was about the next guy in line.' "
Veteran music journalist Dave Marsh led the panel, which
also included Austin-based songwriters Jimmy Lafave and
Michael Fracasso. The star of the panel, though, was
Guthrie's youngest sister, Mary Jo Edgmon, who regaled the
crowd with homespun tales of her proud father, her
misunderstood mother and her iconic older brother. "I
was reared on music all the way up to here," Edgmon said,
pointing over her head. "Woody taught me chords on the
guitar. I got really good at that C chord, I guess it was."
Edgmon spoke proudly of the "1,000 percent turnaround" in
America's perception of Woody, particularly in his Green
Country hometown of Okemah. She said she's thrilled to see
the misunderstandings about Woody's political and spiritual
beliefs clearing up.
"I want the world to understand that the Guthrie family
was not trash, that Woody was as good a man as there is,"
Lafave and Fracasso both punctuated the panel session
with performances. Fracasso sang Guthrie's "1913 Massacre"
and one of his own songs directly inspired by Woody's
songwriting (Fracasso's chorus: "From the mountains to the
valleys / from the prairies to the sea / If you ain't got
love, you ain't got a nickel"). Lafave sang a song about
Woody called "Woody's Road," written by acclaimed Oklahoma
songwriter Bob Childers, and then closed the afternoon
event with a rendition of Guthrie's "Oklahoma Hills," joined
by members of the Red Dirt Rangers and Edgmon herself.
Paint the town Redd
Austin's Top of the Marc is a clean, classy place — not
your usual SXSW mosh pit. The clientele shows the proper
amount of cuff, and the bar has drambuie. Festival
organizers couldn't just stick another all-girl Japanese
punk band in here. They needed class. So they called
upon Charlie Redd and his boys.
Decked out and dynamic, the Full Flava Kings brought
Redd back home in style. "Bring it on home, y'all!" Redd
would shout in a song's closing jam, though it was unclear
which home he was referring to — his native Austin or his
new Tulsa HQ. Either way, his Austin friends and fans saw a
new Redd on Saturday night: more groovy, more gravy and
drizzling a more honeyed baritone over the band's dense
rhythm-and-funk. In addition to charter Kings Dave
Kelly on guitar, Brian Lee on keyboards and Stanley Fary
beating the drums mercilessly, the Full Flava Kings debuted
new guitarist and veteran Tulsa funkmeister Travis Fite
(Phat Thumb) to the Austin crowd.
Their response? Ask the female stranger who tried to
start The Bump with me during the show.
Here come the brides
Tyson Meade, the colorful leader of the Norman-reared
Chainsaw Kittens, used to wear dresses on stage as a rule.
After his Friday night SXSW showcase, he took the fixation
to a bold new level by getting married to another man in
full white-gown fabulousness.
Before the next band (the bizarro but like-minded Frogs)
took the tent stage outside the Gallery Lombardi Lounge,
Meade reappeared in a wedding processional that parted the
crowd. The wedding party included several maids, matrons
and misters of honor in various degrees of Mardi Gras-esque
garb, all of whom surrounded the officiating Hindu priest
for the brief ceremony.
In a flurry of toasts and funny-but-heartfelt vows,
Meade and Skip Handleman Werner — who was always preceded by
the mysterious title "international pop star" — were
pronounced unlawfully married. They smooched, and the
wedding party bunny-hopped from the venue as "Y.M.C.A."
Reports of this high camp should not overshadow news of
the Kittens' triumphant return. Still without a record deal
after the sad demise of the Smashing Pumpkins' Scratchie
Records, the Kittens blasted back into action Friday night
with an explosive set of old and new glam-punk songs.
Meade, juiced by pre-wedding jitters, took the stage in a
royal blue feathery jacket and furiously belted and
screamed his way through the serrated set of Kitty classics
reaching all the way back to the band's debut album,
I can't chaaange
Billy Joe Winghead's lead singer, John Manson, took out
his personal angst about Meade's marriage (he was
distraught over not getting to, um, kiss the bride) through
BJW's two sets of roadhouse rock. The OKC-Tulsa band
blew into Austin late Saturday and played back-to-back
shows at the Hole in the Wall, a University of Texas
hangout, and Cheapo Discs. Shoppers at the latter venue
were typically unfazed by the blaring band over in the
corner — until they played "Free Bird."
A cliche request that normally turns off young rock
audiences always turns heads when its coming from the
five-piece Billy Joe Winghead. Tulsa bassist Steve Jones
sings over the guitar grind while Manson waves out the
melody on his green theremin. Amid the band's repertoire of
songs about rest-stop sex, doomed B-filmstars and car
salesman lingo, "Free Bird" is practically the crown jewel
and always a crowd pleaser.
Hit me with your best shot
Readers of the Austin Chronicle voted David Garza the
city's second-best musician of the '90s. (Ask a blues fan
who was first.) It's not simply because he writes
well-rounded pop songs and executes them gracefully on
record with his band; it's that he really doesn't need his
band at all.
On the Waterloo Park stage late Saturday afternoon,
Garza held his own with only his pretty red Gibson guitar
to keep him company. Songs that on record seem pieced
together by clever arrangements of drum machines, acoustic
guitar and Garza's versatile voice — like "Discoball World" --
evened out in frenetic and energetic solo jams. Near the
end, he took requests, cheerfully tearing his fingernails
off by barreling through "Take Another Shot."
Thank you, sir, may I have another?
The good, the bad, and the ugly
Rumor of the week: That Neil Young was the mysterious
"special guest" billed immediately before Steve Earle's
Friday night set at Stubb's. Young was in Austin for South
by Southwest, but not the music part. His latest concert
film, "Silver and Gold," was premiering. The special guest
was Whiskeytown singer Ryan Adams.
Patron saint of the festival: Doug Sahm. The drive-train
for the Sir Douglas Quartet may be dead but he hasn't left
Austin. From two star-studded tributes to him — one at
Wednesday night's Austin Music Awards (featuring Shawn and
Shandon Sahm), another Friday at the legendary Antone's
blues club (featuring former bandmate Augie Meyers and,
straight from the where-is-he-now bins, Joe "King" Carassco) --
to posters in Mexican restaurants advertising prints of his
portrait for sale, Sahm has edged out Townes Van Zandt as
the bandwagon who bought the farm.
Best TV footage no one could use: Steve Earle's Thursday
morning keynote address. Earle delivered his words of
wisdom wearing a T-shirt that read, "I'm from f—-ing outer
Comeback of the week: Former Byrds icon Roger McGuinn,
whose Friday night performance brought overplayed standards
back down to earth with grace and style.
Best T-shirt: "My lawyer can kick your lawyer's ass."
Most shameless self-promotion: Dallas rap-rockers
Pimpadelic not only drove around downtown blocks in its
giant tour bus with the band's name emblazoned along the
sides, the band also spent its free time walking around
Austin with dancers it hired from the Yellow Rose strip
club, all of whom, of course, sported tightly cropped
T-shirts bearing the band's name. Watch for the band's
debut on Tommy Boy Records.
Most prominent foreign country: The Netherlands, buoyed
by waning interest in the annual Japan Night and extensive
lobbying by the Dutch Rock and Pop Institute.
Best non-SXSW show: Austin's ear-splitting Hotwheels Jr.
on Friday afternoon in a tiny CD shop way out in north
Austin. They spell it r-a-w-k.
Favorite new discovery: Scotland's newest guitar pop
band Astrid, with a debut album, "Strange Weather Lately,"
out now on Fantastic Plastic Records.
Best diversion on the way to another gig: The strolling
horn band Crawdaddy-O, which braved the frigid cold
Thursday night livening people's steps with funky Dixieland
jams, including — at Adam of Fanzine's request — some
sizzling James Brown.
BY THOMAS CONNER
© Tulsa World
Twenty years ago, "Star Wars" creator George Lucas would
not have returned a phone call from a guy called "Weird Al"
Yankovic. Packages bearing such a moniker likely would have
been routed to Skywalker Ranch security.
Today, though, everyone knows "Weird Al." He's famous.
"I've skewered enough famous people that they kind of
know who I am now. Sometimes that helps, sometimes not,"
Yankovic said in a conversation this week. "At least now I
get phone calls returned."
Even with George Lucas,
though, Yankovic was nervous. Just because he's sold more
comedy albums than anyone else didn't mean Lucas would sign
over permission to skewer the context of "The Phantom
Menace," which Yankovic does in the first track on his
latest album, "Running With Scissors." The song, "The Saga
Begins," recounts the tale of young Anakin Skywalker to the
tune of Don McLean's "American Pie" ("So my, my, this poor
Anakin guy / may be Vader someday later / now he's just a
Yankovic recorded the song, set a release date for the
album and booked the tour. Then he sent Lucas a tape of the
song. Fortunately, Lucas loved it.
Song parodies are Yankovic's stock in trade, and over
the last two decades his witty gag covers have established
the largest and longest career for a musical humorist. From
his first parody — turning the Knack's "My Sharona" into "My
Bologna" — to his latest transubtatiation — turning the
Offspring's "Pretty Fly for a White Guy" into "Pretty Fly for
a Rabbi" — you haven't really made it big until "Weird Al"
makes fun of you.
"I've never made fun of the actual performers, though — I
mean, nothing mean-spirited," Yankovic said. "It's all in
fun, and most of the artists are very positive about it.
It's not about them, really." Sometimes the fans of the
artist being parodied don't think so, though.
"Well, there's one letter in a hundred from someone who
completely misses the point. They say, 'How can you make
fun of Michael Jackson or Nirvana?' But they're the ones
who gave me permission to do it, and they think it's very
funny," Yankovic said.
"Weird Al's" passion for parody began when, growing up in
California, he discovered "The Dr. Demento Show," a popular
weekly show of humorous music that just celebrated its 30th
year on the air. Tuning in each week, Yankovic heard the
musical wits of Spike Jones, Tom Lehrer, Stan Freberg and
Allan Sherman. He was hooked.
"Comedy and music were the two driving forces in my life,"
he said. "To have them together, I thought, would, well,
save a lot of time."
Yankovic saw Dr. Demento as a "kindred spirit," and when
he was 13, Dr. Demento spoke at his school. He was
conducting a song contest at the time, and Yankovic gave
him a tape of his recordings he'd begun at home with
"I didn't win — the stuff was awful — but it was the first
thing I gave him, and I decided to keep sending him tapes.
I got better over the years, and pretty soon we kind of had
a relationship, and he played my songs," Yankovic said.
The first "Weird Al" song Dr. Demento played on his show
was "Belvedere Cruising," a pop song about the family
Plymouth. It was driven by Yankovic's trademark accordion,
and it received great feedback from listeners. The song
that set him up, though, was "My Bologna" in 1979. Not only
did listeners love it, the Knack themselves enjoyed it and
persuaded their record company, Capitol Records, to release
the song as a single.
After that, all chart-toppers were targets. Queen's
"Another One Bites the Dust" became Yankovic's "Another One
Rides the Bus." Joan Jett's "I Love Rock 'n' Roll" became
Yankovic's "I Love Rocky Road." Toni Basil's "Mickey" became
"Ricky," satirizing both the hit song and the TV show "I Love
It was the latter song that ensured Yankovic's immense
stardom. The humor of the song could now, in 1983, be
amplified with visuals via the fledgling MTV music video
network. Yankovic's relationship with MTV would become his
main source of success — and excess.
"We've had a symbiotic relationship," Yankovic said. "It's
often difficult for me to get into radio playlists, but MTV
loves to put my videos into rotation, so people have always
known that I've had a new album out. Plus, you get more
dimensions to the humor. Background gags and sight gags
allow you to flesh out the humor a lot."
Since then, Yankovic has resurfaced just in time to
remind us that pop stars are not gods and can be taken down
a peg or two. He's been rewarded for his efforts, too,
winning Grammy awards for his note-for-note (and, in the
videos, scene-for-scene) versions of Michael Jackson hits --
"Eat It" (Jackson's "Beat It") and "I'm Fat" (Jackson's "Bad").
"I've been lucky, but I think what I do is important on
some level. We need satire in the culture to keep balanced
and keep things in perspective."
"Weird Al" Yankovic performs 8 p.m. Thursday at the
Brady Theater, 105 W. Brady St. Tickets are $28 at the
Brady box office and all Dillard outlets. Call 747-0001.
Tulsans remember Al, filming of `UHF'
Tulsans know "Weird Al" Yankovic a bit better than most
Americans because, as his career took off, Yankovic wound
up here filming his first — and, so far, only — feature film,
In 1988, Yankovic shot the bulk of the film in the
then-vacant Kensington Mall on 71st Street (now the
Southern Hills Marriott hotel). The film — about a TV
station owner who tries to keep his UHF channel alive by
programming very off-beat shows — co-starred quirky "Saturday
Night Live" alum Victoria Jackson and was the film debut of
future "Seinfeld" star Michael Richards.
"We got a really good deal on the use of an empty mall
there, so we were able to rent it and set up nearly all of
our soundstages there," Yankovic said. "Almost all of the
interior shots were filmed there, plus we did some exterior
things around town."
Other locations used throughout Tulsa included the
former Joey's Home of the Blues club, where fans of the
fictional station protested, and Woodward Park, where
Yankovic was made up as Rambo for a slapstick fight,
complete with bulging, latex muscles. The First Christian
Church downtown was used as a city hall building. Tulsa
songwriter Jerry Hawkins ("I'd Be in Heaven in a Truck") was
one of the many local extras hired for several scenes in
"UHF." He remembers some of the goofy fun on the sets.
"They had the `Wheel of Fish,' a parody on the `Wheel of
Fortune' (game show)," Hawkins said. "As the show host would
ask the contestants, 'OK, now, which do you prefer — the box
on the table containing some terrific prize or the fish on
the spinning board on the wall?' We, as extras in the
audience, would yell out ... 'The fish! The fish!' It was a
Hawkins also recalled the "incredible amounts of
attention" Yankovic got around town, "and all without saying
much at all and without doing much."
"He was one funny dude," Hawkins said, and "definitely
Yankovic said he's been too busy with the current tour
to think about making another film, but he enjoyed his
Tulsa experience. "I loved it there," he said. "We spent
the whole summer, despite that insane heat."
BY THOMAS CONNER
© Tulsa World
Back-to-back Grammy award-winner Roberta Flack was on
the phone with us a few hours before the annual Grammys
ceremony last month. She wasn't attending — the call came
from her home in Barbados — and she wasn't even sure she
would watch the show.
"I'm not sure I can get it down here," Flack said, "and I
couldn't sit down that long even when I was going to those
Grammys may be old hat for Flack; however, even
when she doesn't attend, her presence often still permeates
the glittering music halls. This year, for instance, the
golden child of the evening was hip-hop artist Lauryn Hill --
once leader of the Fugees, a band that just two years ago
launched its formidable career by covering one of Flack's
signature early '70s hits, "Killing Me Softly With His
Flack herself has a unique place in Grammy history. In
1972, she took home trophies for Record of the Year and
Song of the Year for her recording of Ewan MacColl's "The
First Time Ever I Saw Your Face." She also shared a trophy
for Best Pop Vocal Performance by a Group that year with
Donny Hathaway for the duet "Where Is the Love." That alone
was a nice haul, but the very next year Flack returned to
collect three more statuettes for "Killing Me Softly" — an
unheard-of one-two punch.
Then what happened? Well, therein lies the rub, as well
as what makes a musical artist distinct. The pop scene
changed — the fans' love of story songs in the early '70s
gave way to mindless disco beats — and Flack refused to blow
with the prevailing winds. She remains an unmistakable
talent at this point in her three-decade career precisely
because she didn't try to become a disco queen (a la Patti
Labelle) or a private dancer (a la Tina Turner). Flack was,
is and forever will be a balladeer.
That's not to say she hasn't dabbled. Her last album,
1995's "Roberta," opened with a kind of rap, and she's
tinkered with jazz singing, but Flack endures as a vocalist
who lures the simple, shining joy out of a ballad, from
those first two smash hits to her chart-topping duet with
Peabo Bryson, "Tonight I Celebrate My Love." She sings songs
that tell tales — timeless ones.
"I got started at the time people were really into songs
that told stories," Flack said in our conversation. "That was
a really good time, the early '70s. Even rock 'n' roll
artists, country and R&B artists — and this is when those
divisions were really clear — they were all trying to do
music that told stories. It wasn't necessarily a
once-upon-a-time story, but something people could connect
to, some personal experience they'd been through. The
exciting part about being a musician is recognizing that
when you're on stage, when someone connects with what
you're singing about, and you just watch them change.
"But everything has its season, and things changed.
Except me. The disco thing was next, and I'm not stupid
enough to hang in with that. I'm perfectly satisfied to
sing a beautiful ballad." The process of choosing
ballads sometimes is subject to whim or instinct. Flack
said she looks for ineffable concepts like "gorgeousness,
effect, meaning" in a song before she tackles it, with an
emphasis on that last one: meaning.
"I have to think that somebody other than me is going to
understand it," she said. "I don't want to sing and entertain
myself, or provide just therapy for myself. I want to be
sharing my feelings. I make sure I'm picking a song that
speaks to experiences and attitudes and moments in all of
Still, the meaning Flack may find in a song can be,
well, unique. "Killing Me Softly" is a lyric written about
the songs of Don McLean (telescope that notion through the
Fugees' version and see what you get!), but Flack said she
sung it because it reminded her of someone close. Plus, the
face she had in mind when recording "The First Time" in 1969
was small and, well, furry.
"At the moment I recorded that, I was singing to a little
cat," Flack said. "It sounds cornball, but it's true. I'd
never had a cat before, and my manager had just given me
one. I named it Sancho. About the time I got him was when I
got the chance to go to New York and record demos for that
first album ... In those two days, I recorded between 35
and 40 songs live. (Not long after) I got back, Sancho
died. Then, three or four weeks later, when I recorded the
album, I was thinking about little Sancho, that cute little
funny-looking, scrawny cat."
In concert, Flack said she tries to gauge the
temperament of her audience and chooses songs to fit that
perceived mood. Set lists vary from night to night when
she's on the road (the Tulsa shows are special
engagements). She's been known to nix "The First Time" in
favor of, say, John Lennon's "Imagine," because "the young
kids today" might identify with Lennon more readily than her
own signature work.
Those same young kids are still driving record sales,
and Flack's perceived distance from them is why she thinks
she's without a record deal at the moment. Not that it
troubles her greatly — she's looking, but she's got time and
options, she said — but she recognizes that she's not
"A lot of us don't have deals now — those of us who sing
those story songs well. There's just not a place for us in
the scheme of things. "We're not doing hip-hop, and if
you're not doing what sells," Flack said, "you're not going
to be doing."
With the Tulsa Philharmonic
When 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday
Where Tulsa Performing Arts Center, Third Street and Cincinnati Ave.
Tickets $14-$58; PAC, 596-7111 and Carson Attractions, 584-2000
By Thomas Conner
© Tulsa World
The band's debut, 1996's "Great Divide," slipped under the
radar of most music fans despite its shimmering beauty and
sparkling guitars. But when Semisonic tweaked their
recording approach and turned in a song that resonated with
a wide audience of nightclubbers, the follow-up record,
"Feeling Strangely Fine," inched toward platinum sales.
The clincher, "Closing Time," was catchy enough to
ensnare even the modern rock fans who didn't immediately
empathize with singer-guitarist Dan Wilson's tale of
precarious decision-making in a bar at 2 a.m., just before
everyone is turned out to the sidewalk sale. Some bars now
play the song at closing time as a cool nod to their
With that hit and the latest, the plucky "Singing in My
Sleep," on the resume, Wilson and his bandmates — John Munson
and Jacob Slichter — are now open for business, and this
month they venture out on another arm of a lengthy tour,
bringing them through Tulsa and points south. We caught up
with Wilson in a Santa Monica, Calif., studio — tore him
away, actually — to talk about Semisonic's success, the
makings of a good "bedroom album" and the latest generation
of crack rock bands coming out of Minneapolis.
Thomas Conner: You sound exasperated. Is this a bad
Dan Wilson: Oh, I'm just in the studio working on a
song, and it's very hard to drag myself out right now.
We've been on tour so long; it's so hard to find time to do
Conner: What's the song like that you're working on?
Wilson: It's upbeat, hard to describe. It's kind of got
a Lindsey Buckingham thing to it. I've been hearing a lot
of music lately, watching him play the guitar with his
fingers blazing. I'm trying to cop that.
Conner: Is this a break in the tour for you?
Wilson: It's kind of a multi-purpose trip to L.A.
before we go to Las Vegas to be on "The Penn and Teller
Show." The last thing I saw on that show was a man putting
this lighted wire down his nose and throat. It was all very
grotesque. Hopefully they won't ask us to do that.
Conner: This next leg of the tour brings you down south,
which I think you've missed thus far, right?
Wilson: Yeah, we're trying to hit some of the places we
didn't get to last year. We kept missing Texas, and we've
never been to Louisiana. We sort of saw the spring shaping
up where we could play some of these places. I value that
in a band — getting out there and playing the long shows and
giving the fans as much as we can. I have a wife and
daughter who I miss very much when we're on the road, but
there's something about that contact with the fans that's
really important. It lets you know if you're dealing out
the real stuff.
Conner: You once said that you wanted "Feeling Strangely
Fine" to be a "bedroom record." What's that?
Wilson: Well, not in the sense of turning it on and
having sex with someone. It's one that you put on with
headphones in a dark room when the rest of the family is
asleep and listen to the whole CD. I dreamed that that's
how people would use this record. I wanted it to be
something really intimate and inside your head.
Conner: So how do you go about crafting a bedroom
Wilson: I wanted to make sure the lyrics were really
apparent. On our last album, "Great Divide," we buried the
vocals in this swirl of guitar tones and intricate samples.
I was disappointed when the reviews came back — and I take
what they say pretty seriously — saying that the melodies
were great but the lyrics were meaningless fluff. Fact is,
I think I try to be as honest as I can in my lyrics, and
those (on "Great Divide") are some of my best. So I wanted
this record to have a really intimate vocal sound up
Conner: I would venture to guess that approach helped
streamline the arrangements, yes?
Wilson: Yeah. It put us in the situation of saying, "If
there's no room for the vocals, then take out 11 of the
guitar samples." It's looser sounding. It feels more like
three guys having an interesting, passionate, intense time
in the studio.
Conner: What are some of your favorite bedroom albums?
Wilson: "OK Computer" by Radiohead is a great one. "Hejira"
by Joni Mitchell. Liz Phair's "Exile in Guyville." Tricky's
first album ("Maxinquaye"), though I don't like the whole
thing. John Coltrane's ballads album. I was the family
member who never came up for air. I was always in front of
the stereo listening through the headphones, and none of my
family members could get my attention.
Conner: I once heard "Feeling Strangely Fine" compared to R.E.M.'s "Murmur."
It started to make some sense when I thought about it,
mainly because of that intimate feel. Make sense?
Wilson: That mysteriousness is probably — hopefully --
there in our record. "Automatic for the People" is my
favorite R.E.M. record, and I was probably trying more to
emulate that kind of directness, space and emptiness for
the bedroom vibe. It just can't be a constant onslaught of
fun, you know?
Conner: "Murmur" hit the atmosphere about the same time
some of modern rock's seminal bands were coming out of your
hometown, Minneapolis. Were you caught up in the legendary
Wilson: My idols were the Replacements and Husker Du, plus Prince, Soul Asylum, Jimmy
Jam and Terry Lewis as producers. It was great — Minneapolis
was one of the few towns in America where, for about 10
years, all of your teen idols were from your hometown. A
lot of people in Minneapolis grew accustomed to having
their entertainment needs fulfilled by local musicians.
Conner: An enviable position, for sure. What's it like
up there now?
Wilson: Honestly, I think this will be a great year for
Minneapolis music. There's a new album by the Hangups I
think is incredible — a lot of early R.E.M. and Badfinger
and Small Faces in this really weird but personal
retro-sounding album. There's a provocative band called the
12 Rods that make some really weird sounds. My brother Matt
came out with an album last year that I think was
criminally underpublicized (Matt Wilson's "Burnt White and
Blue"). And, of course, I think we've added a lot to the
Conner: How so? What's the legacy there in Minneapolis?
Wilson: Anything we aspire to ends in this butt-shaking
WITH REMY ZERO
When: 7 p.m. Wednesday
Where: Cain's Ballroom, 423 N. Main St.
Tickets: $13 at
The Ticket Office at Expo Square, Mohawk Music,
Starship Records and Tapes and the Mark-It Shirt Shop in
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.
By Thomas Conner
© Tulsa World
A small gaggle of nervous kids approached the members of
Admiral Twin last month on the streets of Seattle. They had
obviously screwed up a great deal of courage to approach
the Tulsa band, and they were wide-eyed with awe.
"Are you in a band?" one of the girls asked cautiously.
The Admiral Twin fellows said yes, puffing with a little
The girls were particularly focused on bass player Mark
Carr, his bushy locks and constantly furrowed expression.
"You're ... Eddie Vedder?" they asked him.
There are worse things that can happen to a rock band on
the road than being mistaken for Pearl Jam.
It's an understandable error, too. Pearl Jam was playing
in Seattle the same night Tulsa's pop-rock kings Admiral
Twin once again opened for Hanson in the Emerald City.
Admiral Twin is the other Tulsa band on the Albertane Tour --
Hanson's oddly named summer trek across the continent — and
they might be having more fun than even the much-ballyhooed
"We're on a national tour playing for sold-out arenas.
Yeah, I guess we're having a good time," drummer Jarrod
Gollihare said before the band's July 8 show in Tulsa.
The fun continues — as does the development of future
business prospects. Numerous record label scouts have seen
the show at various stops, many specifically to check out
Admiral Twin. A rep from Mojo Records (Cherry Poppin'
Daddies, etc.) was hanging out with the band in Tulsa, and
scouts from Mercury — Hanson's label — were on hand for the
sold-out show at the Hollywood Bowl.
The band, however, is tight-lipped about any deals going
down. "We can just say for now that stuff is happening.
We'll have some news at the end of the tour," said the
band's instrumental everyman and songwriter, Brad Becker,
in an interview this week from the tour's second stop in
In the meantime, these Tulsa players — Becker, Gollihare,
Carr and guitarist John Russell — are high on the excitement
of this incredible opportunity. Just last spring, Admiral
Twin would have surrendered a digit or two to play before
sold-out crowds of nearly 25,000 people as they did at
Washington, D.C.'s Nissan Pavilion. After their sound check
at the Mabee Center last month, they were remarking how
small the 8,000-capacity venue was.
How quickly they forget.
Granted, these giant venues are not selling out on the
strength of Admiral Twin's presense on the ticket. That's
the bittersweet dilemma of every opening act. But the
Hanson tour is a different animal for an opening band,
Admiral Twin has discovered.
"For a lot of the kids in this audience, this is their
first rock show ever," Becker said. "They're all having a
good time regardless. They're not jaded. They're open to
anything they hear, and we just feed it to them."
Surprisingly, the band isn't totally anonymous to these
first-ever huge out-of-Tulsa crowds. Several audiences — on
both coasts — have been sprinkled with Admiral Twin banners
amidst the ocean of poster-sized declarations of devotion
to Hanson. Some crowds — as the band chronicles in its tour
diary (see related story) — have even chanted Admiral Twin's
That's not the only feedback they get from new fans,
though, Becker said.
"We've been getting a ton of e-mail, too," said Becker,
also the band's webmaster, who keeps track of the band's
web page and e-mail daily from the road. "In the last month
or so, we've gotten 2,000 e-mails. The Internet is where a
lot of this started. First, some people posted on the
Hanson newsgroup that we were goign to be on the tour. Then
Hanson linked to our web page from their official page.
That got the word out to Internet-savvy Hanson people. Then
once we started playing shows, it turned it loose. We get
30 to 40 messages a day from people saying they showed up
expecting to throw food at the opening band but wound up
loving us. They say, `You guys aren't anything like Hanson,
but we loved you.' "
Aye, it's that disparity in sound that's the rub.
Admiral Twin took on that name after seven years as the
Mellowdramatic Wallflowers; the change was part of the
band's effort to distance itself from an undeserved but
nonetheless dogging image as a kiddie band. The group's
power pop is suited ideally for whatever might remain of a
college radio audience.
So why did they turn around a month after the makeover
and accept the offer — from the Hansons themselves — to be on
this tour with demographics split above and below that
college radio crowd? The short answer is another question:
who in their right mind would turn down an opening bid for
a group fresh from earning numbers as the No. 1 act in the
world? "We're not a weird niche group. We're a pop-rock
group. We've got a broader appeal than a punk-ska band or a
weird art group. This is a portion of our target audience --
the low age bracket and their parents — and it's a great
chance for us. After this tour, we hope to do some
colleges," Becker said.
Chronicle of a dream: The Admiral Twin tour diary
© Tulsa World
Admiral Twin joined the Hanson summer tour when it came
ashore June 20 for a show in Montreal. Since then, these
Tulsa popsters have been opening sold-out arenas across the
North American continent for the teeny-bop trio.
They've been keeping a tour diary all summer long. A
long version, plus complete information about the band, is
available on the band's web site
(http://www.admiraltwin.com/). Here are some excerpts from
the band's chronicle of star-struck shows, credit-card
capers and barricade-busting:
Montreal (June 21)
Wow! What a great feeling, walking on
stage in front of 12,000 screaming people. It seemed like
we went over very well. Nobody threw anything hard or
pointy at us. Our eardrums exploded the first time the
crowd yelled and we're all now legally deaf.
Toronto (June 24)
The fun never stops on the Albertane
Tour. Last night's show at the Molson Amphitheater was
crazy. Sold-out (16,000 seats), the venue roared like an
army of screaming cheetahs when we took the stage.
Unfortunately, the crowd shrieked all through the Hanson
show as well, making misery for the sound technicians.
Anyone attending further shows be warned: earplugs are a
prerequisite. Last night also revealed a marked increase in
people that either recognized us or had signs for us. We
don't mind being underdogs, but it's gratifying to not be
totally anonymous to the crowds. Fans are good.
Toronto itself is pretty crazy. Very multicultural. The
first day we were there, Iran beat the United States in
soccer. Nothing but a tiny blip on our mental radar, but
those crazy Iranians were hootin' and hollerin' and
ululating up and down the streets, honking their horns,
driving cars while cradling huge Iranian flags on poles out
their windows. Back and forth. Honking. Waving flags.
Ululating. More honking. Up and down. This went on pretty
much all day. Well, hey, I guess it's not every day you get
to beat the Great Satan in soccer.
Boston (June 27)
Tonight was the Great Woods
Amphitheater show. 19,900 people, or so we've heard. All in
all a good show but it was so hot that “Dancing on the
Sun'' (one of our songs) took on a whole new meaning to us.
The crowd looked pretty sweaty by the end of the night as
well. Brad tried to convince the Hansons to hire a
helicopter with a water cannon to come spray the audience.
No luck. We hope the heat doesn't get any worse in D.C. and
Atlanta but our hopes are most probably in vain. By Atlanta
our stage attire will have probably downsized from our
black wool suits to simple loin-cloths. Just kidding.
Detroit (June 30)
Last night we played Pine Knob near
Detroit. The venue was sized and shaped not unlike
Toronto's. Both seat 16,000 people. Tomorrow's show in D.C.
should be close to 25,000. Paltry numbers.
We're trying to get out there and meet [the fans].
Sometimes before the show, sometimes after. Security people
get scared, though, and think we're starting riots. In
Toronto, the guard kept saying, “It's not funny! Can you
go away? These girls are ...'' He was drowned out by
shrieks from a group of girls that was pressing up against
the barricade on a bridge, wanting autographs. He was
clearly scared. How bizarre. You wake up one day and
suddenly people want to meet you and so, of course, it
becomes impossible. Life is funny like that.
D.C. (June 30-July 2)
Incredible. Nissan Pavilion was by
far the best show yet. The crowd was insanely loud, full of
Admiral Twin posters and very excited to hear us. They
stood up while we played. They jumped up and down. They
clapped and yelled. They even chanted, “Admiral! Admiral!
Admiral!'' as we were leaving the stage. Of course, after a
few seconds they switched to “Hanson! Hanson! Hanson!''
but that's OK, too.
Tonight we ate dinner with Ozzy Osbourne's daughters
and Zac and Taylor. Rumor has it the daughters paid an
exorbitant sum for a backstage pass to the show at some
auction. MTV was there to interview them and the Hansons.
Tulsa (July 8-11)
It's a real trip to observe the
“fringe'' behavior that those boys [Hanson] bring out in
people. Especially the younger members of the fairer sex.
Unfortunately, Tulsa is languishing in the grip of a fierce
and fiery heatwave. Talk about nasty. Hot and humid are the
words of the day, and the only relief from the heat comes
with rain, which only further incites the humidity. Yuck.
Also, Brad had to go back to his day job for a day or two.
He calls it “work.'' The word vaguely rings a bell with
the rest of the band. It sounds like something we were
trying to forget.
The Tulsa crowd was markedly different from the other
crowds so far. For starters, it was a sit-down kind of
crowd. Even during the Hanson's set, the crowd sat and
watched. They seemed attentive and appreciative, but
perhaps slightly less fanatical. Chalk it up to
familiarity, maybe. The Mabee Center also confiscated all
the signs and banners that they saw, and it was quite dark
inside anyway, so it was hard to see if any of the crowd
was familiar with us or our music. We're wondering what
kind of response we'll get in L.A. There's supposed to be
movie stars at the show. Maybe someone needs an
up-and-coming young band for their next directorial
Los Angeles (July 11-13)
L.A. is a very interesting
place. You've got the ocean, the mountains, the highways,
and just way too many people running around looking for
trouble. Luckily, they somehow missed us and we had a very
nice time in the City of Angels. We've been here before, so
we knew what to expect.
The show at the Hollywood Bowl was sold out. L.A.
luminaries there included Gus Van Sant, Jenny McCarthy and
David Hasselhoff. Yup, we talked to him about “Knight
Rider.'' Really. Unfortunately, since there was a third
band playing before us, we only got to play 15 minutes. The
crowd seemed to like us, though. The next day, we toured
Media Ventures, met Hans Zimmer (a famous composer) and
drove up Pacific Coast Highway 1 to San Francisco. By the
time we finally found our hotel, it was almost 3 a.m.
Denver (July 16-18)
Ah, Red Rocks! For those of you
who've never been, it's as beautiful as you'd think. We're
following in the footsteps of U2 and the Beatles. Not bad
company. Unfortunately, we arrived late, and it was a
somewhat stressful day, all told. Some of us got lost
driving back to the hotel. Those darn roads are all dark
and twisty around there.
The crowd at Red Rocks was wonderful. They were quite
attentive and receptive. They jumped up and down. They had
banners. One difference there that we appreciated was that
most of the general admission rows were close to the front.
That meant that the front rows were packed out and excited
to be there. A few people got a little too excited and made
a golden calf to worship so we smote them. Whoa. It must be
late at night. Time for bed ...
Seattle (July 19-21)
Next stop on the tour was Seattle,
the Fertile Crescent of coffeehouses, grunge music and evil
software empires. We saw the Space Needle (and the fuzzy
Sneedle mascot), rode the monorail, explored the
fish-scented Pike Street Market and found the Admiral Twin
movie theater. It's just called the Admiral Theater now.
Too bad for them. That evening, we dined in sumptious
splendor at a quaint little local bistro called Denny's.
We're really expanding our horizons. The audience at
the Key Arena was the best yet. We were back up to our
seven song set and the crowd didn't seem to mind. After 30
minutes of screaming, jumping, clapping, and even blowing
kisses, we said goodnight. Some of the audience members
were doing those things as well.
Milwaukee and Detroit (July 23-29)
After Seattle, we
made a quick trek back home. It was an overnight flight, so
we left the Key Arena and took a taxi straight to the
airport. John, who's nervous enough about flying,
particularly enjoyed the choice of "Titannic" as the
in-flight movie. Why not just show "Airport '77"?
For the first two legs of the tour, we flew from city to
city. Now we're driving. Because of the drive, we didn't
get to see much of Milwaukee, but we enjoyed what we saw.
There was both a German fest and a Death Metal fest.
Luckily the crowds didn't mingle. Our only previous
knowledge of Milwaukee involved breweries and Laverne and
Shirley. We learned that Mr. Whipple was from Green Bay and
that this is the 70-year anniversary of Charmin so Mr.
Whipple is going to start encouraging people to squeeze the
Charmin. It's about dang time.
Now, on to Detroit. There were lots of people there who
have previously posted on our newsgroup and corresponded
with us via email. They seemed excited to see us and we
always like putting faces to names. We shook a lot of hands
and signed stuff until carpal tunnel set in. After the
show, we had one of those moments that you never forget.
Behind the venue there were hundreds of people lined up
hoping for a glimpse of Hanson as they left. Isaac came out
to the tour bus and we looked on in amazement as an
avalanche of people crashed the barricades and swept past
the the security guards. Ike ran. Then people started
looking around and recognized us so we prudently decided to
step back inside. It's always an adventure.
BY THOMAS CONNER
© Tulsa World
If Hanson is the future of teeny-bop, I'm going to start
hunting for the fountain of youth. But, no, this isn't
music that can be easily lumped into that derisive
Hanson shares nothing in common with bands usually
referred to as teeny-bop, bubble gum or sugar pop. No way
did New Kids on the Block put on a show with this much
conviction, and I'll wager a good chunk of my retirement
money that Taylor Hanson could wither every one of the
Backstreet Boys to cinders with his voice alone.
Hanson is much better than that, and the proof was in
the group's eagerly awaited hometown concert Wednesday
night at the Mabee Center.
These three kids from Tulsa, America, have got soul.
They're steeped in it. They drip it all over the stage. I
don't know where they got it, but they've got a firm grip
on it. They were kind enough to set the Mabee Center on
fire with it for nearly two hours Wednesday. It makes
sense — they were raised on '50s and '60s rhythm and blues
and rock 'n' roll. They tried to justify those roots
Wednesday night, too, by opening the show with “Gimme Some
Lovin'' and covering other soulful oldies, like “Doctor,
Doctor'' and “Summertime Blues.''
That's all well and good, and it pacifies the parents
who feel dragged along, but it hardly makes a case to book
three teen- agers into any city's biggest arena.
Hanson, delightfully enough, shines brightest when
they're Hanson, playing their own songs. After a cautious
delivery of “Thinking of You,'' they launched into their
second big hit, “Where's the Love,'' and the house started
This was the moment they themselves seemed to come
alive. This was a song in which they had a personal stake
and one they could back with the impressive — but still
limited — arsenal of life experiences. They can mimic
the great soul pioneers — and Taylor easily does, frequently
throwing in a very James Brown-ish “C'mon!'' But they can
throw down by themselves, too. When they do, it's
Even a completely silly, throw-away song like
“Soldier'' became a dynamic performance live. It's an
absurd little story of a lonely toy soldier, but when
Taylor thwaps his keyboard and sings, “He sank to the
bottom of the rivah,'' this goofy tale suddenly has almost
They played that song during a stripped-down, unplugged
set, complete with armchair and mood lamps. The full-bore
band sets that book-ended this intermission were exciting
and tight, but this acoustic set illustrated just how
durable these three mop-tops will prove to be.
This is how Hanson's talent was sown, just sitting down
and playing. That their songs are strengthened by this kind
of delivery indicates a long life ahead.
The acoustic set ended with Taylor and Zac leaving
eldest brother Isaac alone on stage for a solo number at
the piano. Isaac started off as the trio's lead singer, and
he was shoved aside once the more buxom Taylor's voice came
into its own.
That was unfortunate, because as the latest record,
“Three Car Garage,'' shows, Isaac is a strong singer. He
definitely has an overly romantic streak, but his solo was
surprisingly moving. If Fiona Apple ever experiences a
relationship that doesn't make her feel dirty and cheap,
she and Isaac could make beautiful music together.
The show was sprinkled with moments that appeared to be
special for the Tulsa audience. Other than repeatedly
assuring us how glad they were to be playing at home, the
Hansons played several songs introduced as “a song we
played around here a lot'' or “a song that's only been
played in Tulsa.''
The crowd, of course, loved every minute of it. Of
course, Zac could have sat on the edge of the stage and
clipped his toenails, and the girls still would have
But one day, rest assured, these girls will look back on
these exciting concert moments and listen to “Middle of
Nowhere'' again. They'll cock their heads and realize how
good the music is, how it still holds up, how it still gets
them moving and brings to mind happy times.
BY THOMAS CONNER
© Tulsa World
Boy, the boys are glad to be home.
"Finally, we've figured out what day and month it is, and
where we are. We're home!" said Zac Hanson, youngest of the
fraternal trio Hanson.
The group returned home Wednesday for its first hometown
concert since the group's major- label debut record, "Middle
of Nowhere," hit No. 1 around the world last year.
For the last year and a half, Hanson — that's Isaac,
Taylor and Zac — has been racing a whirlwind schedule of
promotional appearances and brief performances around the
globe. The three boys spoke with the media at a pre-show
press conference and said that this summer's tour is the
most fun they've had yet.
"People always ask us, 'Is being on tour such hard work?'
Actually, being on tour has been less stressful than the
last year and a half," Isaac said.
Each young singer voiced and showed visible relief at
being among familiar surroundings. The group — which usually
travels with both parents and some or all of four other
siblings — return to Tulsa on rare occasions, but the bulk
of their time since "Middle of Nowhere" hit shelves in May
1997 has been spent in hotels and buses from Birmingham to
In fact, there were fans young and old at Wednesday
night's concert who traveled all the way from, well, Buenos
"It's amazing that people would come that far," Isaac
"I wouldn't go that far," Taylor added.
It's amazing that these three Tulsa youths have come
this far, too. Just two years ago, the under-age boys were
still finagling gigs at Tulsa clubs and wondering how they
would ever get their career off the ground.
"Our last gig in Tulsa was just two years ago," Taylor
". . . at the Blue Rose," Isaac added. "I remember it
distinctly. We said to each other, 'This is going to be our
last show. We're going to go to L.A. and make an album.' "
The amazement at their own good fortune seems genuine.
These are three kids who have conquered the world and
matured remarkably but still somehow remained bright-eyed
"We're still just so psyched about getting to play,"
Taylor said. "If it all stopped right now, we'd be totally
psyched to say we have had the greatest year and a half
When asked what they missed most about Tulsa, Zac was
quick to answer, "The food."
Outside the press conference — held in a room at the
Warren Place DoubleTree Hotel — was the usual gaggle of
young girls hoping for a glimpse of the three stars. They
screamed when Hanson entered the room, and they screamed
when the boys left. The Hansons said they've gotten used to
that sort of hysteria and haven't allowed it to hamper
their normal lives too much.
"We still go out — we just go in big groups of friends. We
still do all the things we used to do — we're just more
cautious," Taylor said. "It's cool to just have fans at all."
Pop quiz: Hanson and the media
BY THOMAS CONNER
© Tulsa World
They're just kids.
That's the first thing you notice when you see Hanson in
person. For a year and a half, those of us who pay
attention to the goings-on of these three talented guys
have been conditioned for their Celebrity Status. They must
be bigger than life, right?
Nah. They're just three kids. They laugh. They joke.
They punch each other. And — I was thrilled to see — the
rigors of fame haven't seemed to dull their spirits one
The three boys sat down with the Tulsa and state press a
few hours before their Wednesday concert at the Mabee
Center. The questions came fast and furious, and they
handled them all with impressive aplomb.
For those who simply must know everything, here are the
Q. What do you think of being a role model for so many
Isaac: "If we influence people in a positive way, help
them get inspired to do things they want to do, that's
Taylor: "We're really just psyched about getting to play.
It's cool just to get to make your music."
Q. You added a second show in Detroit. Why no extra show
Isaac: "That was a fluke, really. We had planned
to travel back toward the East Coast, and Detroit happened
to be on the way. The scheduling just won't allow it here
Taylor: "We want to come back and play Tulsa again as
soon as we can. There will be a more extensive tour after
the next record. We'll probably play Oklahoma City, too."
Q. Do you still horse around together as brothers, or
are you sick of each other?
(They each punch each other playfully. Hard, but
Zac: "We actually get hurt more when we're
joking about that."
Taylor: "We were doing a TV show and
Ike nailed me in the face. We were trying to demonstrate
Q. Are you worried about being a flash-in-the-pan?
Taylor: "We can't worry about that. We can just do
exactly what we've always done. It's up to the fans whether
they want to buy the records or not."
Q. Is anyone's voice changing?
Isaac: "People have been asking us that a lot lately.
That was news about a year ago."
Q. Who's the most thrilling person you've met so far?
Taylor: "Probably the president. That was the
highest-ranking one, at least."
Q. How do you keep up with school?
Taylor: "Well, it's summer now. Our parents have always
been our private tutors. We get to do cool things on the
Isaac: "We went to the CDC (Center for Disease Control)
the other day. Seeing all these pictures of people with the
Ebola virus, I was, like, eeeuuwwww! I think I'll wash my
Q. Do you get an allowance?
Taylor: "Well, we're not doing any chores ..."
Q. Is this Tulsa show the highlight of your world tour?
Isaac: "It's hard for it not to be."
Taylor: "We have a lot of friends and family who haven't
seen us live yet."
Q. What do you miss most about Tulsa when you're on the
Zac: "The food. Literally, the food."
Q. Any restaurant in particular?
Isaac: "We'd love to tell you, but if we did everybody
would go there at once."
Q. Anyone got a girlfriend?
By Thomas Conner
© Tulsa World
To my sister, Lauren,
Couldn't help thinking of you throughout every moment of
Amy Grant's performance Friday night here at Tulsa's Mabee
Center. It's funny — it caught me by such surprise. I'd
forgotten this musical link you and I shared. Many
circumstances and miles have come between us, but as Amy
sang those old songs from our younger, more questioning
years, I remembered everything I've learned and loved about
you. So I thought I'd write and let you know, because I
think these are the kinds of bond-strengthening revelations
that Amy's music is all about.
I may throw today's Tulsa World readers for a loop by
showing my sentimental streak this way. I'm the rascally,
young rock critic down here, and Amy Grant isn't the kind
of show any regular readers might expect me to rave about.
It's not power pop, after all. But even rascally, young
rock critics have weaknesses they keep hidden behind their
biting commentary, and Amy Grant is one of mine. Thanks to
She reminds me so much of you — a strong, active woman
who radiates an astonishingly calm assurance. This is true
on stage more than on record, though the songs from her
newest album, "Behind the Eyes," are clear signs of her
reconciliation with that forum. But even if she begins
relaxing in the studio, her live performances always will
best convey the spirit of her songs. They are songs that,
like you, often make their point so subversively you don't
always realize that her spiritual convictions inform every
lyric. Once you're aware of where she's coming from, the
firmness (not rigidity) of her spiritual confidence is
She played a lot of songs from the new record, which I
hope you've got, starting with the current hit, "Takes a
Little Time." ("It takes a little time sometimes / to get
your feet back on the ground" — you've given me that advice
before, haven't you?) The show got off to a slow start,
though. Her casualness — that astonishing calm — first seemed
like apathy. This was her last show on a 100-day tour; she
was probably exhausted. But singing is obviously more than
just a gift she recognized and seized upon. Perhaps it's a
real calling, because despite that exhaustion, she couldn't
help but get revved up as she worked through her set. She
had to ask the audience to stand up and sway for one song,
but when she played the groove-woven "Curious Thing," we
weren't following orders anymore. I saw you both in her
inevitable revitalization and in that song's golly-gee
wonder at life's unexpected quirks.
Seeing you in the new material was a joyful surprise. I
knew, though, that the old songs would remind me of you. I
remember just as much "El Shaddai" and "My Father's Eyes" as
"Whip It" and "Candy-O" playing in your car on the way to
school 15 years ago, and each had its own set of
inspirations. In fact, she took time out during her second
set Friday to perform a lot of those oldies — from "Thy Word"
to "The Wallet Song" — without the band. Wish you could have
seen this. Everyone else was singing along, and I could
have used your lyrical coaching.
Then she played another one, "Missing You," from her new
album. Oddly enough, she said she wrote this one for her
own sister who had moved away recently after a lifetime of
living nearby. Sound familiar? Can't say I was completely
dry-eyed when she sang, "Missing you is just a part of
living / Missing you feels like a way of life / I'm living
out the life that I've been given / but I still wish you
were mine." Rascally, young rock critics aren't supposed to
tear up in public. Missing you nearly ruined my
But that's what music is supposed to do, right — break
down those emotional barriers? OK, so maybe everyone
doesn't have the opportunity to write about it to entire
cities, but I can't imagine there are many fans reading me
this morning who haven't had similar experiences with Amy's
— or anyone's — music. Songwriters write deeply personal
songs, and they hand them off to us knowing (or at least
hoping) that we'll share their feelings or apply our own.
It's an essential part of human communication, and I don't
think Amy would be embarrassed by my expression here half
as much as you will be when you read it. Next time I write,
I promise I won't print 170,000 copies of it. See you later
this month, I hope.
BY THOMAS CONNER
© Tulsa World
Some Hanson fans love the Tulsa trio sooooooooooo much
that they channel their obsession into their own, um,
artistic expression. Instead of merely daydreaming their
fantasies of hanging out with Taylor, going camping with
Zac or finding a soulmate in Ike, legions of fans are
writing those fantasies into Hanson fan fiction and posting
it on the Internet for all to see.
The web is now thoroughly packed with clearinghouses of
this novice prose. The stories are written mostly by girls
and — yeesh — a few older women, and they cover just what
you'd expect them to: idolizing a Hanson, meeting a Hanson
and eventually smooching a Hanson.
If you ever need justification that young girls harbor
ambitions of becoming the next generation's Harlequin
romance novelists, tune in. A good place to start reading,
if you dare, is through the stories link at the Ultimate
Hanson Links Page.
Hanson fan fiction has it all — sex, violence, drugs and
the dropping of more brand names than a professional
product placement representative could contract in his or
her entire career. It offers a glimpse into the lives of a
segment of American youth that most miss — or ignore — and it
ain't always a pretty picture.
They've never been to Tulsa
You wouldn't believe the number of stories that describe
the Hanson home with a horizon of snow-capped mountains in
the distance. In the notorious "Tulsa 74132," written by
anonymous authors, Juliet and Isaac spend a day in the
fictional Metro Parks, described thusly:
It had huge ponds, trails, swamps and educational
buildings, plus a ton of wildlife took sanction in the
park, making for an always exciting animal spotting
adventure. And now they sat on a bench in Buttermilk Falls,
just enjoying the view. Buttermilk Falls was one of the
most spectacular sights, for it was a trail that led from
one stream of waterfalls to the next. Each bed of water was
crystal clear, showing the hard work the city put into
keeping it a nice area. They have underdeveloped
In one story ("Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow,") Taylor
treats his latest female admirer to dinner at a Tulsa
eatery called Ray's Restaurant:
He picked up a menu, scanned it quickly and reclosed
"I'll take the dill salmon and a large root beer."
They are ready for the realities of marriage
"Tulsa 74132" includes a scene in which Isaac's new lover,
Juliet, pushes him away and retreats into pouting. Isaac
tenderly inquires as to the source of her distress and is
met with this harrangue: "We never go anywhere. All we do is
sneak somewhere and make out. Why don't you take me
They are incredibly defensive about their work
Rare is the piece of Hanson fiction that does not begin
with a disclaimer warning all naysayers to step back,
something like Rachel Munro's statement at the beginning of
her 20-chapter story "Forever Friends": "There is only one
rule I put on my story and that is that only true Hanson
fans are allowed to read it." So there.
The safe-sex messages are getting through
Every story in which fan-Hanson copulation actually
occurs makes explicit mention of using condoms — and not
just rote regurgitation of safe-sex lectures from school.
For instance, in "Near You Always" by Ashley Elizabeth
Farley, Isaac and a young girl named Emma seal their
undying passion after making sure that all the safe-sex
requirements are met — with Isaac singing all the way
through it (yegods).
In "Tulsa 74132," a young temptress named Juliet sidesteps
the typical safe-sex reluctance and insists on being
You go, girl!
Shakespeare is still required study in American
"Tulsa 74132" features a protagonist named Juliet in its
tale of star-crossed love. Some other story titles: the
aforementioned "Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow," "Where for Art
Thou, Taylor?" and — really — "Methinks They're Sooooooo
Some of them are foul-mouthed little brats
Some Hanson fiction authors use the medium simply to
mouth off. Case in point: "Barbie and Her Three Kens" by
Kitkat, a Dadaist stream of nonsense that turns the Hanson
brothers into offensive little thugs. In Part Two, they
insult every aspect of another girl's appearance — to her
"Toss It Up, Tulsa," by an unidentified author, is loaded
with profanity, vulgar situations and a version of Zac cast
as a salivating sex fiend. Turn on those parental controls
and wash out these modems with soap.
There are plenty of lines that are fun to quote out of
context. Par example: "Suddenly Isaac realized what he
was doing: sitting in a darkened movie theater, looking at
and feeling women's lingerie" (from "Tulsa 74132").
By Thomas Conner
© Tulsa World
One of the many bonuses of being a Loudon Wainwright fan
is discovering his immensely talented children. On Loudon's
previous record, he sang a duet with his daughter Martha, a
formidable singer on her own and currently being courted by
Martha's brother Rufus, however, beat her to the punch.
The ballyhooed DreamWorks record label this month released
Rufus Wainwright's astonishing self-titled debut to the
accolades of critics across the continent.
"I definitely have the writers under my spell," the
younger Wainwright said in an interview earlier this month.
"My favorite review said that I sounded like a cross between
Kurt Weill and the Partridge Family."
It's an apt description if you can fathom it. Rufus
Wainwright's "modern standards" or "popera" is worthy of its
other high comparisons, such as to Irving Berlin and
especially Cole Porter.
"I really want to be the next Wagner," he adds.
Rufus plays piano, unlike his acoustic guitar-playing
dad. Loudon divorced Rufus' mother — another noted folk
singer, Kate McGarrigle of the McGarrigle Sisters — when
Rufus was very young, and Rufus was raised chiefly by
McGarrigle in Montreal.
That accounts for a good deal of the operatic and French
influences on his rich, warm songs. But is Generation X
ready for this kind of sweeping, orchestrated pop?
"Are you kidding? They need it. They're dying for it,"
Rufus said. "My main objective is to be in that great
American songwriter tradition, like Porter and Gershwin ...
Some reviews say I'm retro, but I'm not. I'm just doing the
art of songwriting, which really hasn't changed much in
thousands of years. I'm not doing sounds, I'm doing songs."
But while Loudon spent a career singing mostly
autobiographical songs about "Bein' a Dad," Rufus doesn't go
for the first-person approach. He can't spend his life
writing answer-songs to his father, he said.
"He goes right for the nugget, my dad," Rufus said.
"Sometimes I thought he used the family in a vicious way
when he wrote about us, but then I realized that it's just
the way he does it. It's whatever gets your goat. He wrote
beautiful songs about the family, as well. "My songs are
more innate. I'm still pretty much the central figure in
all of them, but I tend to portray myself in songs as more
omniscient, perhaps just as an observer of things around
me. Then the listener can more easily place themselves into
that position. The songs are still about me, but I'm more
hidden. I don't want to embarrass myself."
Rufus now launches his own series of concerts across the
country to support the debut record. His dad said he gave
Rufus a little advice, but not much was necessary.
"I told him to get a good lawyer. But he doesn't need
advice. He's a good performer and funny and nice looking
and an egomaniac. If you ain't got that last one, you might
as well hang it up in this business ... Plus, he and his
sister have watched their parents make so many mistakes,
and that suffices as advice. I'm just hoping in the end
that they'll buy me a house."
And how did Loudon react when he found out that Rufus
was an openly gay performer?
"He didn't care one bit," Rufus said. "One day he just
turned to me and asked, `So do you like guys or girls or
what?' I was a pretty flamboyant little child. He claims he
knew from age 4."
By Thomas Conner
© Tulsa World
It's been a season of rock 'n' roll legacies in the
music biz. We've seen albums from Chris Stills, son of
Stephen; Emma Townshend, daughter of Pete; and Sean Lennon,
son of John — and none of them have been very striking.
Enter Rufus Wainwright, son of folkies Kate McGarrigle
and the also cumbersomely named Loudon Wainwright III. He
looks hip enough — leather jackets, bushy hair, knife-blade
sideburns — but he's crafted a debut that won't seem hip
right away. Wainwright, you see, is so freakin' talented,
he will have to slip into his destiny as the Gen-X Cole
Porter or Kurt Weill slowly.
Those comparisons are not tossed in here merely as
reference points for the reader. Wainwright is writing
standards on that level of charm and genius. His songs have
been described as retro (or, my favorite, “popera''), but
that's simply because the young generation responding to
Wainwright's timeless laments and musical sighs only know
of standards from the perspective of their parents. But
these days it's the mainstream to buck tradition, so
Wainwright's return to the traditional conventions of 20th
century classic songwriting may turn out to be the hippest
Like his father, the younger Wainwright writes form very
personal experiences, but unlike Loudon, Rufus phrases his
lovelorn laments and cheery ruminations in an omniscient
voice. It's just as easy to place yourself in the center of
the moseying “Foolish Love'' as it is his own reminiscing
on boarding school days in the jaunty “Millbrook.'' His
“Danny Boy'' is a rolling original, though like many of
the songs it restrains Wainwright's delicious, reedy tenor
into one constraining octave. String arrangements
throughout are courtesy of Van Dyke Parks — a definite
kindred spirit — while Jim Keltner provides drums and Jon
This debut is an intelligent cabaret — with all the sly
wit of Porter and the high-though-furrowed brow of Weill.
Several notches above the cleverness of Ben Folds,
Wainwright could be the closest thing my generation has
come to an original, classic entertainer.
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.
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
Contrary to popular opinion, I don't hate Hanson.
Sometimes I grow weary of dealing with the story — fielding
daily calls from an endless stream of pre-teen girls, foreign
journalists and creepy sycophants who think I have some inside
track on the personal habits, bodily markings and whereabouts of
the world's newest pop triumvirate. One guy even offered to snap
infra-red photos of the boys in their secret rehearsal spot. Yeesh.
Nobody really hates Hanson. Even the ghouls who create web pages
glamorizing fantasies about assaulting our cherubic idols don't
really hate them. Real hatred rarely inspires such tribute.
Cynics who naturally rail against anything that becomes hugely
popular can't hate them completely. The songs are too good, the
melodies are too sweet and Taylor has too much raw soul. I can't
tell you how many times such people — myself included — have
begun discussions of the pop trio by saying, “Well, I don't have
anything against their music, but ...''
But what? All other arguments are irrelevant. If you dislike a
group because of its look, you're shallow. If you dislike a group
simply because of its popularity, you have an inferiority complex
that should be dealt with. If you dislike a group because the
members' personalities chafe you, you're missing the point of pop
As Diana Hanson, the Hanson mom, told me early this year, “All
that stuff about what it was like for them to play Legos together
is diversionary. The music is what matters, and that story is out
Hanson's “Middle of Nowhere'' album was a triumph for pop
music. The melodies are catchy — resistance is futile — and the
words frequently nonsensical. It's bright, cheerful and completely
disposable. “MMMBop'' sounds great every time you hear it, even
after a hundred listens, and it demands nothing intellectual of
you. That's pop. It could be gone tomorrow, but it will have served
its purpose well.
For those reasons, I love the guys. I'm a power pop fanatic, and
this music fits into my personal groove. In my reporting and
criticism, I attempt to craft a more personal tone than your basic
national media outlet. In so doing, I often end up sounding more
snide than is warranted.
The last thing I want to become is part of the Tulsa music
scene's problem. Tulsa's scene suffers mostly because area media --
and fans — consistently disrespect their own. I have infinite
respect for what these boys have achieved this year, and I hope
others join me, regardless of musical tastes, in puffing with just
a bit of pride in our hometown sons' accomplishments. Perhaps we
could do the same for numerous other impressive musicians in our
talent-packed local scene.
Of course, there's the rub: Hanson may have been born and
home-schooled within our city limits, but they are hardly a product
of the local music scene. The 300-plus local gigs Hanson publicists
love to tell you about likely were as much as 95 percent private
functions — not exactly dues-paying circumstances. They made
virtually no effort to test their mettle in the Tulsa marketplace,
where clubgoers choose to pay for the performance.
In the end, bypassing that probably helped Hanson succeed better
than anything. After all, Leon Russell — previously Tulsa's most
famous rock 'n' roll product — usually charges a greater fee when
he plays Tulsa. Why? Because the audiences here aren't as big, and
they don't respect him. Had Hanson suffered in the local concert
scene, Mercury Records might not have mustered the confidence to
support the boys as heartily as they did.
Therein lies my only valid gripe against the group: since the
album hit, Tulsans have not seen hide nor hair of the boys. They
have completely ignored their hometown fans. They even canceled
their scheduled appearance at Tulsa's centennial homecoming
celebration in September — a bad PR move that only made their
heads look larger from the perspective of us little people back
home in Green Country. Then again, maybe this is why Tulsa fans are
so punchy; if we do help someone reach stardom,
we'll probably never see them again.
It's something to think about the next time someone complains
about Tulsa's dearth of culture and fame. Suggest that next weekend
they blow their movie-rental bucks on a cheap cover charge at a
local club. Hear some music. Socialize instead of retreat. See what
And thank you for your support.
By Thomas Conner
© Tulsa World
In August, Hanson played, well, a record-breaking show in
Toronto, Canada. Trick is, they didn't set the record — their fans
The mob — mostly ecstatic young girls, of course — screamed
their way into the Guinness Book of World Records. The sound meter
at the show registered the audience frenzy at 140 decibels. The
previous record is 126 decibels, set by fans of the Who nearly two
decades ago. (Parents, fill in your own “The Kids Are Alright''
That's just one way the Hanson brothers have made noise this
When the calendar turned to '97, the Hanson boys couldn't get
arrested. They'd been on the local pep rally circuit and become
Mayfest staples, even had quietly released two indie albums, but
the Hanson moniker meant nothing to the masses.
This New Year's holiday, the Hanson family has a lot to toast.
The family's singing trio — Zac, Taylor and Isaac — has sold more
than 10 million albums and become the No. 1 pop group in nearly
every country on the planet.
Here's a look back at the past year of Hanson-mania — the
exposition and explosion:
Feb. 1 — A photograph appears in Billboard magazine with a
caption kicker that would prove all too prophetic: “Eat My Dust.''
The Hanson brothers are pictured with the Dust Brothers and two
Mercury Records execs. The caption simply mentioned that the boys
were finishing their album in a California studio.
Feb. 28 — The song “MMMBop'' is among 10 (including
Springsteen and Journey) rated by radio DJs in an issue of
Hitmakers magazine. The one-liners say, “What a great record,''
“This is great!'' and “I love this! A great record!''
March 24 — “MMMBop'' is released to radio and debuts at No. 43
on Billboard's chart of top airplay.
April 7 — A petition for majority rights is filed in the
District Court of Tulsa County in the name of Clarke Isaac Hanson,
Jordan Taylor Hanson and Zachary Walker Hanson. That means they
were asking the court to allow the boys to enter into contracts as
if they were adults (18 or older). Gotta get the legal ducks in a
May 3 — “MMMBop,'' just released for sale, debuts at No. 16 on
the Billboard singles chart.
May 6 — The full album, “Middle of Nowhere'' on Mercury
Records, hits record shelves and debuts on the Billboard album
chart at No. 9. Nearly 75,000 copies are sold just this week.
May 7 — Hanson appears at the Paramus Park Mall in Paramus,
N.J. They have to be rushed off the stage because the place was
mobbed by a frenzied crowd topping 6,000 people. “More than
Christmas,'' Isaac marveled. Fans rip the laces from Taylor's shoes.
May 14 — “MMMBop'' hits No. 1 on the Billboard singles chart.
May 26 — Hanson appears on the “Live With Regis and Kathy
Lee'' morning show. Kathy Lee is visibly annoyed.
End of May — 30 web sites are devoted exclusively to Hanson.
Early June — Hanson appears on the KHTT, 106.9 FM, morning
show with Andy Barber and sings an a capella version of “MMMBop.''
June 11 — Already the legions of screaming girls are panicking
the publicists. An editor at Super Teen magazine relays, “Danny
Goldberg (president of Mercury Records) said he's trying to get the
label to focus marketing more on boys. They love the screaming
girls, but they're trying not to lose the boy market.''
June 12 — Hanson appear as presenters at the MTV Movie Awards.
They announce the award for Best Fight.
June 13 — Hanson stops at the Frontier City theme park in
Oklahoma City for a seven-song show. The tiny venue is crammed with
people, young and old. Tulsa's Mellowdramatic Wallflowers opened
the show, playing twice as long.
July 11 — The boys perform and are interviewed on “The Tonight
Show With Jay Leno.''
July 29 — “Where's the Love'' is released as the second single
from the major-label debut.
Sept. 1 — The first two unauthorized bios show up at
bookstores: “Hanson: An Unauthorized Biography'' and “Hanson:
MMMBop to the Top: An Unauthorized Biography'' by Jill Matthews.
Sept. 26 — Sandwiched between scintillating sitcoms like
“Sabrina the Teenage Witch'' and “You Wish,'' Hanson “host''
ABC's Friday night T.G.I.F. line-up. It wasn't much — a few cutesy
remarks, a peek at the newest video (“I Will Come to You'') and a
quick harmonizing of “Where's the Love.''
Oct. 3 — Hundreds of Tulsa teens show up at school in tears
because of widespread news that Zac had been killed in a road
accident in Europe. Just a sick rumor, fortunately.
Oct. 18 — Hanson sings the National Anthem to open the first
game of the World Series. A bald eagle flies down to the plate
afterward. Some losers actually booed them.
Late October — Fred Savage, former “Wonder Years'' star, shows
up on “MTV Live'' and declares “MMMBop'' as his favorite video.
Oct. 31 — MTV spends the day airing “the scariest videos of
all time,'' such as Ozzy Osbourne, Prodigy and Marylin Manson.
Hanson's “MMMBop'' is included, introduced as “definitely the
scariest video ever.''
Early November — 150,000 web sites are devoted exclusively to
Nov. 1 — “Hanson: The Official Book'' by Tulsa writer Jarrod
Gollihare arrives on bookshelves.
Nov. 6 — Hanson wins trophies for Best Song and Best
Breakthrough Act at the MTV Europe Music Awards.
Nov. 11 — Heard rumors that the Hansons are planning to move
from Tulsa? The boys appear on a live chat and simulcast on America
Online; when asked if they will be moving, they reply, “No, Tulsa
is home! :D'' Also, the album's third single, “I Will Come to
You,'' is released.
Nov. 18 — “Snowed In,'' the boys' Christmas album, is released
(debuting at No. 7 on Billboard's album chart) along with a video
documentary of the whirlwind year of touring, “Tulsa, Tokyo and
the Middle of Nowhere.''
Nov. 21 — They can still pack 'em in: nearly 30,000 people cram
into a shopping mall in Columbus, Ohio, for a free Hanson
Nov. 28 — ABC airs a prime-time special about Hanson, in which
Dick Clark interviews the boys as if they were on “American
Dec. 9 — Hanson is first on a bill including the Wallflowers
and — get this — Aerosmith at New York City's Madison Square
Dec. 13 — The trio appears as the musical guest on NBC's
“Saturday Night Live.''
Dec. 18 — Hanson roars through “Run Run Rudolph'' for its
second appearance on “The Late Show With David Letterman.''
By Thomas Conner
© Tulsa World
Christmas is a kids' holiday,
right? So tune into the true spirit of the season with this
exuberant pop album from Tulsa's own international sensations.
Granted, most of Hanson's covers of Christmas classics — written
scores before they were born — are frequently cloying and don't
necessarily improve on them, but these are carols for the Spice
Girls' Generation Next; they ain't s'pposed to be reverent. A
handful of originals keeps the spirit bright, like the sincerity of
“At Christmas'' and the frenzied funk of “Everybody Knows the
Claus'' (“Ridin' down the air highway in his sleigh / Bringing all
the presents for the next day — don't forget the donuts!'').
Taylor continues exploding with soul, while Isaac shows signs of
By Thomas Conner
© Tulsa World
The Buddha, the Godhead, resides quite as comfortably in the circuits of a digital computer or the gears of a cycle transmission as he does at the top of a mountain or the petals of a flower. To think otherwise is to demean the Buddha -- which is to demean oneself.
David Byrne, it seems, is a machine.
He's moving around the stage like a plastic doll in some art
student's stop-motion short film, like two successfully fused
halves of the mechanized mannequin parts in Herbie Hancock's
"Rockit'' video. He stepped onto the Cain's Ballroom stage
Thursday night upholstered in a pink, feathered suit, thick and
bulky like the white one in the quintessential video for one of the
disaffected anthems of his former band — the song he's opening the
show with, Talking Heads' "Once in a Lifetime.'' His voice is
clipped and cold, same as it ever was, and this old, cyclical lyric
spews forth the same questions — where does that highway go to,
and, my God, what have I done? — that none of us gathered for this
otherworldly, Harlan Ellison kind of display have found time to
He must be a machine. He hasn't aged. By the time the programmed
jungle rhythms for "The Gates of Paradise'' (from his latest
album, "Feelings'') begin tsk-tsk-tsking out of the timid speaker
stack, Byrne has stripped down to a baby blue jumpsuit that
outlines a very svelt and fit 45-year-old.
Grasping his guitar as the chorus riffs, he plants his feet
firmly just inches from the front row of wide-eyed, cautious
onlookers. He's so close that the peghead of his guitar nearly
smacks the hat off the head of Don Dickey, the cheshire-grinning
singer of Tulsa's own Evacuation of Oklahoma.
Byrne is right there in front of us. Two nights previous,
barricades and burly security goons kept a crowd of fanatics a safe
distance from Morrissey, a performer claimed by fans to be coursing
with real, palatable passions and, thus, to be esteemed as utterly
human. This David Byrne model requires no protection. He is a
machine. He must be replaceable.
The five people on this stage are machine components, anyway.
The keyboard player is merely pulling stops and turning knobs to
allow the samples and programs to speak. The drummer plays a live
snare and two cymbals; the rest are computer pads. The plucking and
strumming of the bass and Byrne's guitar are only the beginnings of
the sonic impulses, which — after numerous devices have encoded
the frequencies — are emitted as wholly new and unreal wavelengths.
Even Christina Wheeler, a dancer and backup singer, takes her
turn playing not an instrument but a portable station of sound
processors and compressors that capture her voice and utilize it as
the breath of a larger, more layered sound. The machinery is
co-opting the energy of humanity for its own artistic goals, the
kind of live-vs.-Memorex dichotomy we've seen this year mastered by
Bowie and muddled by Beck.
But this is Byrne, and he doesn't seem to let the technology
control him. If I dashed back to the sound board right now and
severed the power cables with a quick hatchet chop, I'm convinced
Byrne would still be able to make his music. He wears a headset
microphone and dresses his new songs in doo-dad drapery, but there
is a deeper and more fluid sense of art in this display than in
Beck's synthohol or Bowie's ice crystals.
Of all the classics to revive, Byrne starts playing the Al Green
song that gave the Talking Heads the first sign of a human face,
"Take Me to the River,'' and the cold, jerky Devo concert
atmosphere begins to thaw. For "Daddy Go Down,'' a roadie who had
just been adjusting microphone cables reappears on stage with a
fiddle and balances the martial drum machine with Circean sawing.
For "Dance on Vaseline,'' Byrne bops back to the stage wearing a
black T-shirt and a red, plaid kilt (his third costume change thus
far and, for many, the most titillating — a young woman shrieked,
"He's wearing tighty-whities!'') and chuckles about the, um,
slipperiness of love. People are bellowing, People are bouncing.
People are bobbing. Byrne, the efficient showman — show-man --
smiles and shakes and sweats. Machines can't do that.
The music swells and glows, like oceanic phosphorous — pouring
through the sensual balladry of "Soft Seduction,'' foaming with
the borderless joy of "Miss America'' and flowing swiftly through
the righteous riffing of "Angels.'' Finally, the set ends with a
song based on that live snare drum, another Talking Heads anthem --
"Road to Nowhere'' — recorded at the dawning of the derision of
the post-boomer generation and written as a reductio ad absurdum
argument against the prophesies of our detachment and cyberization.
No, we may not know exactly where this highway goes to, but with
Byrne running in place and the rest of us unconsciously jumping up
and down on the Cain's spring-loaded floor, it's clear that the
road leads somewhere and that Byrne is as good a piper to follow as
In fact, he raises us to such cheer and wonder that we won't let
him go. We call him back for an encore.
He returns, this time in the most astonishing costume I've seen
on a public stage: a full-body skin-tight suit, with only eye and
mouth holes, illustrating the body's underlying muscles and bones.
Like an alien child of the gimp in "Pulp Fiction'' and educational
television's Slim Goodbody, Byrne sings a slow, eerie version of
"Psycho Killer'' while climbing across the stage in slow motion.
After folding himself into a yoga posture, the band bows, exits,
and the crowd demands more. Byrne returns in another tight jumpsuit
featuring flames from toe to chest. The rhythm festival cranks up
for "I Zimbra.'' After a shouting, dancing frenzy, the band bows,
exits, and would you believe Tulsa demanded a third encore?
Exhausted and hoping to settle us down so that we'll let him leave,
he returns and plays the new lullaby "Amnesia.''
In our newfound calm, we discover we are at peace. It feels good
to be alive and to be human.
David Byrne, it seems, is very human.
By Thomas Conner
© Tulsa World
Let's take a song from David Byrne's latest CD, "Feelings,'' as
an example of our post-postmodern everything-and-the-kitchen-sink
era of art. Knitting together the unabashed, knee-slappin'
country-and-western chorus are delicate, jittery jungle techno
rhythms. Sounds absurd, but it works beautifully.
Or "Daddy Go Down'' — a Cajun fiddle see-saws on a playground
of droning sitars and tell-tale scratching. Walk into your local
record label office and pitch that to a talent scout. See what kind
of looks you get.
David Byrne is used to strange looks. In the 20 years since the
debut of the Talking Heads' first album, he has led that band and
his own solo career through a series of unbelievable and harrowing
stylistic twists and turns, and every time he pitched one of his
art-student ideas, he met numerous odd looks. He's racked numerous
successes — personal (a wedding — at which Brave Combo played --
and a daughter) and commercial (you know the hits — "Once in a
Lifetime,'' "Wild, Wild Life,'' "And She Was,'' etc.) — in those
20 years, though, and there's no good reason to stop now.
"I'm used to the look of bewilderment,'' Byrne said this week
in a telephone interview from a tour stop in Florida. "I just have
to explain that I'm from the same planet you are — you just don't
realize how strange it is out there. You're living in some TV dream
Fortunately, Byrne has reached a position from which he can act
on his whims with relative freedom. For instance, his record label,
Luaka Bop (a subsidiary of Warner Bros.) signs and produces artists
from around the world that normally wouldn't get looked at twice by
American labels. It cuts out the middlemen and those looks of
"Look at the new Cornershop record. It looks like it's making
some kind of impact, but if you went to someone and said, 'We have
this band with an Indian singer and their single is about Asha
Bosley, this woman who stars in Indian musicals, and we think it's
a hit record,' they'd look at you like, 'What planet are you from?'
But it worked. Every now and then one of them clicks,'' Byrne said.
Cornershop found success for the same reasons Byrne continues to
astound listeners: they both realize the patchwork potential of pop
music now. They mix styles. They bridge the gaps between musical
genres. They play to our expanding awareness of the world.
It's not intentional, of course. Byrne doesn't hunker down next
to his wall of gold Talking Heads records and plot ways to better
communicate with today's collage minds. His consciousness is a
collage, too, so the music comes out that way.
Upon the release of "Feelings,'' Byrne explained it this way:
"We all seem to have these musical styles and reference points
floating around in our heads, things we've heard at one time or
another that rub off on us — sometimes in small ways, as a feeling
in a melodic turn of phrase, other times in the overall style of a
song. There's a subconscious cut-and-paste going on in our heads
that doesn't seem strange at all. It seems like the most natural
thing in the world. It's the way we live now ... borrowing from the
past and future, from here and there.''
It's the way Byrne lives, anyway, and he said the ideas for
style-melding sneak up on him.
"It doesn't come when you have your forehead furrowed, figuring
out what to do with a song. It comes when you're not paying
attention, when you're making coffee late in the afternoon and
there's a record playing in the background,'' Byrne said. " 'The
Gates of Paradise' is an example of that. I had a jungle record
playing while I was in the kitchen, and my ear caught something. I
realized that the rhythm I was hearing was the same basic beat of
the song I had just been working on.''
In the making of "Feelings,'' those moments came with greater
frequency, Byrne said, because of the way the album was made. The
songs were recorded with musicians and producers all over the world
— the dance trio Morcheeba in London, the Black Cat Orchestra in
Seattle, Devo in Los Angeles, Joe Galdo in Miami and Hahn Rowe in
New York City. No big studios, either — everything was economical,
in home studios.
That contributes largely, Byrne said, to the natural, relaxed
gait of the songs. Nowadays, with advancements in technology and
lower prices, home recordings sound as good or better than those
from big, complicated studios. This is not breaking news to
musicians, but it's a new dynamic to the musical marketplace.
"All artists have gone through this — you make a demo at home
that sounds great, that has this intensity and feel and
spontaneity, and it gets scrubbed clean in the studio. They listen
to the final product and go, "There's something missing here. Why
doesn't this sound as exciting as the demo?' That's an old story,''
Byrne said. "Now we're coming around to where if you take a little
more care when recording the demo, you can release that as the
That's what Byrne did this time around. The result is an album
that packs a suitcase of musical styles that ordinary musicians
wouldn't be able to carry across the room, but the disc holds
together with a surprising fluidity and coherence. It may be the
most enterprising effort Byrne has tackled since the heady days
with his old band.
"In the beginning, the Talking Heads were always kind of
beat-oriented. Always in the living rooms and the loft there was
R&B in the air as well as experimental music and rock stuff. That
resulted in the same fusion that I think I still capture from time
to time,'' Byrne said. "It's a natural tendency to end up putting
together the different things in your experience. You act out what
you love. That's how different music comes into being. What we call
rock 'n' roll is a patchwork of many different things. It's not
like Elvis Presley had no roots.''
Byrne prefers continuing on his own path, too. The other three
members of the Talking Heads reunited last year without him,
calling themselves simply the Heads and using different vocalists
for each song on the resulting CD "No Talking Just Head.'' Bad
blood still exists between Byrne and his former bandmates, so his
part in the reunion was never an issue.
"Years earlier I had tried to talk to them, and they didn't
want to even talk to me,'' he said. "It's been going on for a very
long time. It just finally got to the point where I realized I was
not in this as a masochist and that I don't need to be whipped and
berated. Music should be a joy. It was time to move on.''
Even when Byrne gets venomous or angry, though, his music
somehow maintains an air of cheer, optimism and hope. Even with a
foreboding lyric like that in "Daddy Go Down,'' the song's
rhythmic momentum instills a crucial air of confidence.
In fact, it's that rhythmic element that pulls off that trick,
"You can dance to it,'' he said. "For me, you can say
something very bleak and pessimistic, but if you counter it with a
groove, it implies that the human being is going to persevere and
survive. At least, that's what it feels like. Despite what ominous
clouds gather, the groove and the life force is going to pull you
with Jim White
When: 7 p.m. Thursday
Where: Cain's Ballroom, 423 N. Main St.
Tickets: $20 at the Ticket Office at Expo Square, Mohawk Music,
Starship Records and Tapes, the Mark-It Shirt Shop in Promenade
Mall and the Cutting Edge in Tahlequah
By Thomas Conner
© Tulsa World
Relax — our three little cherubs are alive and well.
A rumor is making the rounds that Zac Hanson, the youngest of
the Tulsa-native hit trio Hanson, was killed in a bus accident in
Europe. It's not true.
Of course, he is the barefoot one on the album cover, and
“MMMBop'' played backwards does sound like, “Zac is dead.'' (It's
a joke, kids. Ask your parents.)
Sources at Hanson's record label and management group confirmed
on Friday that the rumor was just that — and not a very funny one,
“You must be a star when rumors like this start floating around
about you, even if it is kind of sick,'' said Jolynn Matsamura,
publicist at Mercury Records.
Students at Jenks East Middle School were crying in the halls on
Friday morning when the rumor reached the Tulsa circuit. A Jenks
counselor said the rumor created “quite a stir'' and that students
were “all in a twit'' upon arriving at school.
“Everyone was freaking out,'' said Jenks seventh-grader Mary
Ellerbach. “We were all crying.''
Most students said they had been told that someone else had
heard the report broadcast on KHTT, K-HITS 106.9 FM. However, the
station denies reporting the rumor.
“We never announced it. After a lot of calls about the news,
though, we called Hanson's agent in Los Angeles, found out it
wasn't true, and reported that,'' said KHTT operations manager Sean
A Jenks student's mother who knows the Hanson family verified
the rumor as false and relayed the information to the school.
“Then all the kids chilled,'' a counselor said.
The rumor apparently originated in Europe and came ashore via
the Internet. It was in Oklahoma by mid-week; callers to a Thursday
night radio show on KSPI in Stillwater (which featured the Tulsa
band Fanzine) already were asking, “Is it true?''
BY THOMAS CONNER
© Tulsa World
Hanson songs aren't so thick on radio anymore, but this is just the eye of
the storm. Get ready for TV and more hype as the Christmas season draws
Here's a round-up of Hanson news for the giddy Hanson fans and
their exhausted parents:
I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus: How do you capitalize on a No.
1 smash debut record and avoid the sophomore slump? Make a
Christmas album, of course. The trio has been stashed away in a
recording studio outside of London, hurriedly recording a
full-length disc of Christmas tunes called “Snowed In.'' Look for
the elves on shelves Nov. 18.
Read All About 'Em: An unauthorized paperback biography,
Hanson: MMMBop to the Top, is already on bookstore shelves, and
it was written by a woman who clearly has never set foot in Tulsa.
Rest assured, all will be righted when the official bio is released
by Virgin Press, also on Nov. 18. Written by Hanson family friend
and Urban Tulsa writer Jarrod Gollihare, the book, tentatively
titled The Official Hanson Book, has the blessing of the Hanson
clan. Gollihare said the book will stand out from others simply
because he's the only author granted interview time with the boys.
Not-So-Candid Camera: Also in November, look for a
feature-length video documentary of the Hansons titled “Tulsa,
Tokyo and the Middle of Nowhere.'' Cameras followed the kids around
on their recent world tour and put together footage of the wild and
crazy antics. The film's director, David Silver, told Entertainment
Weekly: “Despite their busy schedule, Hanson found time to
participate in the editing process. Their analysis of the footage
was absolutely right on.'' After all, they do have to figure out
what to do when they grow up.
But Wait, There's More: If a Spice Girls feature film wasn't bad
enough, the Hansons, too, are working on a theatrical-release film
likely due sometime next year. Word is that they plan to spoof the
Beatles' “A Hard Day's Night'' (Beatles fans, start writing
letters now). The project is in development now, and the writer
signed onto it is Morgan J. Freeman, who shepherded the acclaimed
“Hurricane Streets.'' He promises a light comedy, not a biography.
It Always Snows in My Hometown: Superteen magazine, in an
interview from its October issue, asked the Hansons if they took
anything on the road to remind them of home. After Isaac mentioned
a turtle (??!!), Zac said, “Our friends gave us a big globe of
Tulsa.'' Isaac: “Ya know, one of those balls you turn upside
Hanson Prank of the Month: Rhino Records mailed out an
advertisement for its Christmas season slate of boxed sets. In it,
they included some joke sets. Along with “Mista Rogers: What a
Wonderful Day in Da Hood'' and the 50-disc “Titanic: The Box
Set,'' they listed “Hanson: The Early Years,'' billed as “three
volumes of pre-natal hits.'' The cover art was a sonigram of a
fetus. It's just a joke, kids!
I Sat Through “Sabrina'' for This?: ABC wrapped up its TGIF
Hanson appearance PDQ. The boys were due to “host'' the network's
Friday-night sitcom line-up on Sept. 26. After sitting through two
hours of hype about this allegedly momentous occasion, fans were
treated with a far-too short and pointless little performance.
Rumors are flying now of an ABC Hanson Thanksgiving special. Stay
Internet Geeks, Part 1: There are more than 150,000 Hanson web
pages on the World Wide Web. Among those teens with all that time
on their hands, one has formed the Hanson Internet Alliance. It's
mission: “To protect Hanson webmasters from cyber-thieves'' who
steal photos, banners and ideas. If you are discovered ripping off
a fellow Hanson fan, the alliance will spread your site address
around and urge all fans to boycott it. Shiver me timbers.
Internet Geeks, Part 2: By far the most bizarre juxtaposition of
cultures appears on the page for Hanson Addicts Anonymous
uses a quotation from Kierkegaard to introduce its page full of
typical prepubescent hysteria. The page even offers a 12-step
program for Hanson addicts. Step One: “Place all Hanson CDs in the
trash can next to your computer. Close the lid and forget about
them.'' Step Two: “What were you thinking? Open the lid! Open the
All I'm Askin' Is for a Little Respect: In Britain teen mag Live
and Kicking this month, Zac stated the band's motto: “Judge us for
our music, not our age.'' Then he expanded it: “Think of us as old
people with high voices.''
By Thomas Conner
© Tulsa World
In France, they're lauded with headlines like, “Hanson ...
groupe de l'heure!!!'' In Germany, the boys show up on shows like
“Geld Oder Liebe.'' In Portugal, it's, “Hanson!! Hanson!! A banda
que e sucesso no mundo inteiro!''
In Tulsa, the hometown public hasn't laid eyes on them in nearly
That's because once the Hanson album hit the shelves in the
spring, these three youngsters hit the road (well, boarded the
plane) and haven't looked back.
With “Middle of Nowhere'' and its
hot-agent single “MMMBop'' still resting comfortably in the Top 20
in a majority of the world's time zones, who needs to go home?
Europe is absolutely batty for them, and this week the boys are
sowing the seeds of their adoration on the western edge of the
Indeed, these three tykes from Tulsa have gone from zero to hero
faster than Disney's Hercules himself, and while Tulsans shouldn't
get their hopes up about a hometown performance probably in this
century, the boys' bubblegum sounds are certainly taking over the
world. Here are some curious bits of news about Hanson's
It Ain't Me, Babe
Early in July, the Tulsa World received this desperate plea
through e-mail from a teen-ager in Australia: “I have had mounting
annoyance at the people that think I am Jordan Taylor Hanson. I
have been receiving faxes, e-mails and so forth at all times of day
and night. Due to this I am totally distressed and hope that Hanson
go away! Nothing personal, but I'm furious. What do you suggest I
His name is J. Taylor Hanson.
Not only does he share the name with Hanson's soulful,
androgynous, 14-year-old singer, but this Hanson also happens to
hail from Tulsa. He's in Australia for six months, and the rabid
fans have tracked him down via the Internet thinking he's the
When J. Taylor left Tulsa, the Hanson touring schedule was still
a list of private parties in south Tulsa. Now the group is an
international phenomenon, much to J. Taylor's dismay.
“The trouble really began when "MMMBop' went to No. 1,'' J.
Taylor said through an Internet interview last month. “It was
really weird. People would ring — mostly of the female gender --
and I'd be like, "Who is this?' and they would be going, "Is this
Taylor Hanson?' and I'm like, "Yeah. You are?' but they'd usually
hang up. I had no idea what was happening.''
Then his e-mail address was mentioned in Hanson online circles
as the famous Taylor's personal address, and the messages began
pouring in “hundreds at a time,'' he said. Messages like this one:
“Hi! Oh my god, i can't believe this is your e-mail!!! I love u
sooooooo much, you're sooo SEXY!!! I LUV ALL OF UZ!!! I LUV your
music 2!!! So yeah, if you're not 2 busy E-mail me!!! I luv u
J. Taylor has had to change his e-mail address twice and his
phone number once.
“When I'm in a good mood, I just laugh at most of them,
although there were a few insulting ones which I found scary,'' he
It Ain't Me, Babe, Part II
Last week a woman phoned the Tulsa World also pleading for help.
She claimed that MTV had broadcast the wrong phone number for the
local Hanson hotline. Instead, Hanson fans from around the world
were dialing her parents' west Tulsa home at all hours of the day
Lackeys at MTV could not confirm whether or not they had ever
broadcast a phone number in relation to Hanson, and officials at
Mercury Records said they were 99 percent sure that a phone number
— correct or incorrect — had not been given out.
The phone at the Hanson home in southwest Tulsa features a
regularly updated recording with information on the trio's current
events. Kids may be misdialing the number and getting this woman's
“It's been going on for two weeks,'' she said. “They've got
Caller ID, and they're seeing numbers flash up with area codes from
around the country and all over the world. I had no idea.''
Happy Birthday, Tulsa
Organizers of the city's “Take Me Back to Tulsa'' centennial
homecoming festivities originally had Hanson inked onto the big
weekend's schedule. They were going to do a show Sept. 20 at the
River Parks Amphitheater, but the boys have backed out in favor of
yet another jaunt to Europe.
A friend of the Hansons' father contacted the homecoming
committee and proposed some kind of live satellite remote for the
day while the band was in Ireland, but according to Paula Hale, the
centennial coordinator, the project would not be feasible for the
“It's unfortunate because we really wanted to have something
for the younger kids to enjoy during this celebration,'' Hale said.
“We've got something for every other age group, and we were trying
to different things. This just wasn't feasible.''
Perhaps they'll drop us a line for the state's centennial in
Happy Birthday, Sis
Ah, the life of a superstar. Ever the close-knit family, the
Hansons still manage some quality time while touring the world. It
just requires a bit of cloak-and-dagger to pull off.
While in Australia last week, the Hansons stole away to a
private room at the Sydney Planet Hollywood so they could celebrate
Hanson sister Jessica's ninth birthday. In order to divert the wild
throng of fans, an announcement was made that the boys would be
visiting the Sega World theme park that day. Psyche!
Taking Tulsa to the World
They may not come home much, but simply being from Tulsa has
helped spread the city's name around the world — a nice treat for
our centennial year.
Tom Dittus, owner of the Blue Rose Cafe in Brookside — site of
a Hanson patio performance that helped secure their record deal --
has been basking in the glow of Hanson's stardom.
“We've gotten a lot of mileage out of this,'' Dittus said.
“Entertainment Weekly did a big story on them and mentioned us,
and we were mentioned on Casey Kasem's "Top 40 Countdown' show. The
story gets embellished a little bit each time, but I'm not
Feature stories and photos of the boys in Tulsa media, from
yours truly to several Urban Tulsa stories, have been reprinted in
fanzines — online and otherwise — across the world. Urban Tulsa's
Jarrod Gollihare and I now have the creepy distinction of having
our work appear without permission on a Danish web site dedicated
to Hanson drooling.
And everywhere they go, in every other breath in every
interview, the boys say “Tulsa.'' After they went on at some
length describing Tulsa as an oil town in a recent interview for
French radio, the translator piped in with this: “The only real
attraction in Tulsa are the Hanson now. You are the new oil.''
What was that Dittus said about things getting embellished?
Taking the World to Tulsa
With Hanson causing major prepubescent hysteria in Europe,
journalists from the mother continent have begun taking an interest
in writing about every possible detail of the boys' existence and
history. That means coming to Tulsa to check out the hometown and
report the local color. How Tulsa will translate through, say, the
Dutch media is anyone's guess.
Last month, a German journalist showed up out of the blue in the
Tulsa World newsroom. Claiming to represent a series of
publications with a circulation of 6 million, he was after all the
information he could scrape up on the boys — knocking on the door
of their house, quizzing locals who knew them and some who didn't,
and snapping photographs of Tulsa World editors, for some reason.
Five other European media organizations have called to determine
whether it would be worth their time and effort to travel here and
write about Tulsa. Be prepared to give directions to someone with a
Think this talk of Hanson's international hype is just that --
hype? Here's where the boys' product stands on international charts
this week, 14 weeks after the first release, according to Billboard
No. 3 in Germany
No. 20 in the U.K.
No. 9 in France
No. 7 in the Netherlands
No. 1 in Australia
No. 3 in Sweden
No. 3 in Denmark
No. 5 in Norway
No. 1 in Japan
No. 11 in the United States
“Middle of Nowhere'' album
No. 6 in Germany
No. 5 in the Netherlands
No. 6 in Australia
No. 5 in Finland
No. 14 in Japan
No. 4 in Malaysia
No. 7 in Canada
No. 6 in the United States
The second single, “Where's the Love,'' has begun its climb,
Also, watch for the boys on a CBS broadcast Aug. 24 and in a
milk advertisement this fall.
By Thomas Conner
© Tulsa World
The pages of a thesaurus easily could be worn thin trying to
find the appropriate words to describe Saturday night's Hanson
concert at Frontier City in Oklahoma City, but none would better
sum up the show's madness and frustration than these two: seven
The No. 1 musical sensation in the country finally returned to
its home state in a swath of glory, they packed thousands upon
thousands of ecstatic young girls and their dumbstruck parents into
a venue meant to hold hundreds, they stayed cloistered in their bus
before showtime listening to the crowd chant, “Hanson! Hanson! We
want Hanson!'' — and they graced us with only seven songs.
That's a pile of gall for three kids who were begging for a
public gig this time last year. Other bands in their position (with
older, stronger audiences) would have been dragged back to the
stage — particularly by the sizeable Tulsa contingent
that traveled 200 miles round-trip for the Big Event, not to
mention paying up to $20 a head to get into the park. Heck, the
Mellowdramatic Wallflowers — another Tulsa band more seasoned and
deserving of the rocket to superstardom than our young heroes --
opened the show with maybe twice that number of songs.
How quickly they forget.
They were certainly seven fantastic songs, though, and during
that fleeting half hour, the crowd of sardined fans adored their
triumvirate of pubescent blonde ambition with the kind of
power-drill-in-the-ear screaming that hasn't been heard since the
You Know Whos came ashore. The crowd was so huge and so eager to
get a decent vantage point on the stage that they were squeezing
into the tiny field and crushing the front lines of girls against
the barricades. Ten minutes before Hanson took the stage, extra
manpower was called in from across the park to reinforce that line
of defense and keep the hysterical young'uns from rushing the
stage. More than a few were led away for heat exhaustion, despite
the afterthought of park officials throwing handfuls of ice into
When the Fab Three finally jogged onto the stage, they started
off with a couple of songs by themselves, letting their a capella
foundations show a bit. For “Madeline'' and “Man From
Milwaukee,'' Isaac strummed a guitar, Taylor slapped a tambourine
and Zac shook a shaker. The harmonies were sweet as ever and
further testament to the boys' whopping vocal and performance
For the remaining five numbers, the boys went electric along
with several other musicians, each of whom lurked discreetly on the
back of the stage. For the legions of cynics who wonder, the boys
actually do play their instruments, even if they're not always
playing the most significant parts of the songs. Every song was
hard-hitting and tight, more than thrilling the crowd.
The bulk of the signs held up in the crowd were announcing
various carnal desires for Taylor, but interest in the young Hanson
singer and keyboard player runs far deeper than mere teen-age lust.
This boy has soul, and it's evident from the first instant he
slouches into a microphone and beats a tambourine. If the boys'
career outlives the here-today-gone-tomorrow projections prone to
such young acts, Taylor Hanson looks like he's equipped to lead
dedicated fans through a lifetime of great and possibly
forward-thinking music. It's been a long time since rock 'n' roll
had a great white soul man, and I'm sure Tulsa would be proud to
say they knew him when.
Before any of that happens, though, the kids have got to hook
themselves up with a decent tour manager. They played this Oklahoma
City gig for free, meaning that each $20 admission from the several
thousand fans didn't go to the artists who deserved it. But then
again, for seven songs, maybe they didn't deserve a penny. If they
are indeed headed straight for Madison Square Garden, they'd better
work up a set that offers our money's worth — no matter how
adorable they may be.
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.