The summer season might be winding down, but that doesn’t mean outdoor music in Oklahoma is following suit. If anything, the Live Music on the Canal festival — now in its fourth year — just might eclipse this recent summer’s musical offerings Saturday, with more than 200 Oklahoma bands and musicians in 70 showcases on five stages situated along the Bricktown Canal.
Founded by Jessica and Brian Gwinner of Gwinner Studios, the festival peaked at 15,000 attendees last year, they said.
Originally started to jump-start business in a slump-year, it also now pays tribute to the many musicians who show so much pride in their own city and state, she said.
“There’s a lot of musicians that start a career here, but then they go elsewhere, record, and then years go by after they’ve already made it big and then people start noticing that they’re from Oklahoma,” Jessica Gwinner said.
“But, oftentimes, they’ll be like, ‘We’re from Austin,’ because that’s where their recording company or label is. I wanted to put on something that I felt was quality for those of us who stay here.”
It was for this reason that the Gwinners ultimately decided to not only keep the festival strictly Oklahoman but showcase musicians of all types of genres in an atmosphere of support and equality.
“There are a lot of festivals that have someone really big or someone not from here and they’re the headliner,” Gwinner said. “That, to me, almost says, ‘This guy is really good, so come see him. And these other people are pretty cool too, I guess.’ With Live Music on the Canal, it’s more of a showcase. All of the musicians are equal.”
Live Music on the Canal starts 5 p.m. Friday, Sept. 20, and runs all day Saturday, with stages located along the canal at the Chevy Music Showcase Stage, Earl’s Rib Palace, Jazmo’z Bourbon Street Café and the Green Space. Artists include Jabee, Stephen Speaks, Dustin Prinz, Allie Lauren and The Secret Post, among others.
One of the returning musicians, R&B singer-songwriter Shelly Phelps, said this is not only the most well-orga nized event she has played at but also the most successful venue for Oklahoma musicians to get noticed.
“It’s just like any type of event where you get those that will come and park it and watch for hours. Then you get those people where who are just happy if they stop and listen to a song,” Phelps said.
“They may come down to have dinner, and you can catch their attention for a couple of songs, and they come over and tip, buy a CD and sign up for a mailing list. The crowds have been great and really supportive.”
Phelps also is a music fan and believes that local concertgoers won’t “find a better lineup of local music all year.”
“There is something for everybody,” she said. “Any kind of music that you might be into, there’s going to be some kind of local, original representation of that music. If you want to know what Oklahoma has to offer, this is one of the best ways to go out and get a huge sampling of our music.”