Randy Cassimus has spent years cranking out rock ’n’ roll in bars and clubs throughout Oklahoma City. He’s used to playing over the clink of beer glasses and shouts of liquored-up patrons when he plays with local band The Hi-Def Howlers. So he wasn’t quite sure what to expect when he booked an acoustic gig at a bookstore.
“Was I going to be background music for people looking at books?” he said.
It took Cassimus about five minutes to realize how much he enjoyed the vibe at Full Circle Bookstore, 1900 Northwest Expressway, which for seven years has featured live music on Friday and Saturday evenings.
“And then it’s like, ‘This is cool.’ You just play,” he said. “I will play things there that I will not play anywhere else. I’ll do things that maybe don’t get drowned out so much.”
The reaction wasn’t surprising for Dana Meister, Full Circle event coordinator.
“[Musicians] always leave loving it because it’s a nice, relaxed place,” she said. “There are no crashing dishes. There’s no loud crowds. There’s no smoke.”
Oklahoma City is loaded with great places for music, from spacious theaters to beer-soaked honky-tonks. But a number of venues exist one might not immediately think of when it comes to live music.
Grand House China Bistro, 2701 N. Classen Blvd., is one such place. But Friday nights showcase the aptly named Grand House Trio performing jazz standards. The group includes pianist Larry Pierce, drummer Randy Coyne and a rotating third player, while Pierce’s wife, Susan, often joins for vocals.“We don’t play bebop or anything like that. I call it ‘user-friendly jazz,’” Pierce said. “We get a lot of parents dancing with their kids. It’s a real family place without it being a Chuck E. Cheese; there is a bar here. It’s a delightful place.”
If dim sum and jazz are comfortably compatible, the same is true of schnitzel and Glenn Miller. For roughly 20 years, Ingrid’s Kitchen, 3701 N. Youngs, has played host Saturday afternoons to a five-piece band dubbed The Silver Tops.
“They would come here and play on Saturday at noon for a couple of hours,” said Maggie Miner, Ingrid’s general manager. “People would get up and dance and just have a good ol’ time. They play everything from the Big Band era all the way to the current.”
The popularity of Saturday’s music prompted Ingrid’s to expand live performances. For more than a year, the eatery also has featured live music most weekend nights.
“We have many regular customers as a result. It’s amazing,” Miner said.