Sound Exposures: A Retrospective

I spent my weekend listening to the local music scene. It wasn’t something I felt like writing about initially, but I thought Friday and Saturday night’s performances were intimate. For one, I got to see a new side of Jabee’s showmanship. Or stage presence if you will. Full disclaimer: I think it was Norman Music Festival 2010 when I made his acquaintance. I remember being impressed with his set as there were some good songs I’d heard that day and because he was the first I’d heard of Oklahoma City’s current hip-hop scene. Since then I’ve seen him perform on multiple occasions, and what I have to say is this: if being in the presence of indie comics, film makers, musicians and artists makes you act like a bit of stand-up comedian, my word, then there should more of a crossover between music and comedy locally.

At the Skywriter‘s documentary there was a completely jokey vibe going. And how could there not be, really. Danny Marroquin chose to make a documentary that featured real people with genuine talent.  But their talent is not only in their chosen art of expression, but in their ability to connect with people. To that end, I got the back story on a lot of Jabee’s songs as he’d tell a story before launching into one or let the music trail at the finish of another. Either way there was a story for each. Some of them were funny stories; some of them were sad. But ultimately they were about his connection to his community and the people that populate his landscape. Naturally it was something of the moment and the experience to be had was reflected in his interaction with the crowd. Jabee talked about his trip to New York, his collaboration with a well-regarded producer EL-P, and how he’d been featured in XXL recently. John Fullbright was set to make a surprise appearance, but was unable to at the last minute. He’ll be back in May, so those who want to catch him perform will have to wait till then. Either that or go stalk him on his European tour.

As for Jabee, check out the track produced with EL-P. At the Skywriter’s premiere Jabee said he’d wanted to work with EL-P since he was 15 and that it was pure luck with EL-P contacted him recently. The story behind “Stephanie” comes from Jabee’s past. Once in 7th grade he asked a girl out and she just looked at him and said, “You sure is ugly.”  When he preforms the song live he likes to get into character and do a call and response with the crowd. Where he says, “Super” and the crowd yells “Ugly.” You can check him out live March 23rd at the Conservatory in OKC.

Contrast that with a trip down to Norman on Saturday. At Breathing Rhythm Studio Steve Boaz did another wonderful job of hosting visiting musicians. I’ve been to two shows and I’ve liked the music. Late last fall I’d heard Barling and Bearkat. And strangely while Bearkat and Run On Sentence share little in common stylistically, both used the “mouth trumpet” in their sets. Of the two, Dustin Hamman blew me away. Which isn’t to say Katy Pearson, of Bearkat was not good at it, but I’m saying that Hamman has an uncanny talent for it.

I talked to Dustin Hamman for a bit. It turns out he and drummer, Dan Galucki, were stopping through on their way to the True/False documentary film festival in Columbus Missouri. Dan Galucki has played with Samantha Crain hence the Oklahoma connection. It’s all about musicians networking.

Speaking of which, Hamman and I got to talking about documentaries as I just recently watched “Searching for Sugar Man.”  Hamman opened for Rodriguez at a show in Portland a couple of years ago. At the time the documentary about Rodriguez had not been finished and Hamman said he knew very little about Rodriguez other than he was making a comeback. He and Hamman talked briefly and that was that. Hamman later saw the documentary last year at the True/False Film Fest and said he wished he’d spent more time talking to Rodriguez once he fully understood the man’s back story.

At any rate, Run On Sentence put on a great show. At times Dan Galucki introduced some otherworldly percussive elements into the sets by dragging a drum stick across a symbol, which produced an eerie, rusty swing set sound.  It would be like if you heard an empty swing swaying in the breeze. Their sets had a moments of quiet reserve before launching into huge bombast before returning to that pensive contemplative mode. Overall, their music had a great flow.  At one point there was a sing-along song and the set ended with a very intimate performance by Hamman going solo with an acoustic guitar. I ended up leaving with a couple of CDs as did others. If I remember correctly, a couple people had to jet to the ATM right after the show as they too ended up buying more than on CD.

I’ll be writing about Barling soon. But until then you can listen to their new EP here.

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