A few solid standbys and several surprises are on the list as readers once again made their picks of the best local music for the Gazette’s annual Woody Awards.
New York Summer
These metro pop-rockers shimmer like the season the Oklahoma City band is named after. Recently culled from other acts, the four-piece ” singer/songwriter Jared Taber, guitarist Michael Blakemore, bassist Eddie Jones and drummer Adam Chamberlain ” writes guitar-driven songs and is a regular at stages throughout the metro. The band recently wrapped recording on a debut album to be released this fall ,and will perform songs from the upcoming release 10 p.m. Saturday at the Plaza District Festival, along the 1700 block of N.W. 16th.
A local club and state festival mainstay, singer/songwriter K.C. Clifford brings a raw and wide-eyed take on folk music. In March, the Oklahoma City singer was featured on “The Biggest Loser,” where she shared her weight-loss story and performed for television audiences worldwide. Clifford recorded her latest, “Pockets Full of Hope,” at OKC’s The Blue Door, and she has won numerous songwriting awards and contests, and performed alongside acclaimed acts at the Kerrville, Falcon Ridge and Woody Guthrie folk festivals.
The Mean Spirits
What a weird, lovely mess The Mean Spirits are. The Oklahoma City trio’s latest album, “Is This the Last Love Made?,” is a strange and energetic mix of The Hives and The B-52’s Fred Schneider. Always quirky, occasionally noisy and infinitely catchy and amusing, the group is at its most entertaining when experienced live. Try it yourself 8 p.m. Saturday at The Deli, 309 White in Norman.
Equilibrium brings the balance. Steamy saxophone is snapped to attention by tight drum pops and a commanding bass groove. Lush keyboards and organs float and grind against front man Nathanael Medlam’s soulful voice and layered guitar work throughout the act’s set, which moves from hip-hop and R&B-inspired hooks to fast-paced neo-soul numbers and classic jazz standards.
Miss Blues and The Blue Notes
Dorothy Ellis’ anguished cry is hard-earned and well-worn. As the first lady of metro soul, Miss Blues has roots that run throughout the city and a history planted firmly in mid-’50s Oklahoma, where she, Little Eddie Taylor and blues legend D.C. Minner performed as the Rockin’ Aces. Ellis is substantial and still brings it in a big way.
Los Hijos Del Diablo
Just try to cut through the sludge. A slovenly funeral dirge marked by gong crashes and power-chord chugging, Los Hijos Del Diablo ” collectively, singer/guitarist Grant Tatum, guitarist Ryan Schofield, bassist Eric Olson and drummer Travis Harvey ” isn’t the kind of metal that hunts with aggressive solos and frantic double bass drumming; it’s a grimy predator that slowly stalks victims from the shadowy tree line.
Raised in the “grimy” south side of Tucson, Ariz., Gazette readers named DJ Jafar the metro’s top turntablist. A born hip-hopper, Jafar has helped run the decks for Jabee, and early this summer, he put his spin on an eclectic batch of songs for his 14-track “Under the Rubble” mixtape.
Kids at the Bar
Grab a seat next to Matt Buckley and Chad Raunborg and tip a glass with Oklahoma City duo Kids at the Bar, an electro-dance DJ crew that sets pace with stylish remixes at both regional and local parties.
Effortlessly delivering heartfelt narratives over retro hip-hop samples, Oklahoma City emcee Jabee is the metro’s official mic master. Seamlessly moving from 2008’s “Blood Is the New Black” to this summer’s “Must Be Nice” mixtape, Jabee is an underground phenomenon who’s already tracking on the radar of the national indie rap scene.
A tribute to classic rock with a bluesy backbeat, Oklahoma City’s Alter Ego handles everything from Led Zeppelin and U2 to Three Dog Night, Maroon 5 and Alanis Morissette. Front woman Cora Gutel, guitarist Russ Roberts, bassist Chris Morley, drummer Mike Williams and keyboardist Mark Holley are regulars at Big Dick’s Roadhouse in Yukon and are a de facto house band at Boulevard Steakhouse in Edmond.
Jeremy Johnson & The Lonesome Few
Backed by his rowdy band ” guitarist Steve Paul, bassist Jason Stacy and drummer Blake Lankford ” singer/songwriter Jeremy Johnson pens rollicking red-dirt country that teems with the anxious energy of a born rambler. Johnson & The Lonesome Few are anything but loners to audiences here in Oklahoma, where they fill most weekends with whiskey-soaked shows at local honky-tonks. Come watch Johnson and the crew bust it out for bikers 10 p.m. Friday at Spinozi’s.
Every needle finds its groove with Guestroom Records, a locally owned and beloved outlet that brims with energy and endless music that you can actually hold in your hands. Both the Norman store, 125 E. Main, and the Oklahoma City location, 3701 N. Western, are well-stocked with new and used CDs, records and artwork, but owners Justin Sowers and Travis Searle regularly book in-store performances and events with both local and touring acts.
LIVE MUSIC VENUE
A temple to touring bands and local performers, The Conservatory, 8911 N. Western, is once again readers’ hands-down choice for live music. From old-school punk rockers and below-the-surface indie favorites to DJ-led dance parties and rock ‘n’ roll benefits and garage sales, locals are loyal to their little venue and the well-regarded Conservatory calendar.
Rock Bottom Ramblers
Raised in Tuttle, Tracy Ross, Shawn Rose and Tony McMillan make up a now-Oklahoma City bluegrass trio praised by Gazette readers. Upright bass and banjos do jigs with freight-train harmonicas and rattle-snap washboard rhythms for a mix that’s rootsy, fun and folksy. “Joe Wertz