Three volumes in and A Blackwatch Christmasyet again nabs a spot on the nice list, showcasing a smattering of Oklahoma artists with charming new holiday standards. This year shakes up the status quo with two themed halves — serving up dusty, countrified Christmas ditties on the Holly-Tonk side and soulful hip-hop carols with Jingle Beats, both with joyful returns.
It has been a relatively rocky road for Weatherford alt-country outfit Green Corn Revival, which has seen its share of highs (acting as backing band for rockabilly icon Wanda Jackson) and lows before an (amicable) split in the road led half of the original lineup to forming Honeylark.
Oklahoma is quickly becoming the indie Christmas music capital of the world, it seems, with yearly compilation albums featuring everyone from Stardeath and White Dwarfs to Graham Colton. So it makes sense that Colourmusic — freak-poppers hailing from Stillwater — would craft a full album of original, offbeat holiday tunes themselves.
The Oklahoma City metro has a thriving garage rock scene. With seasoned acts like Broncho and Copperheads carrying the modern-day torch, the way has been paved for a flock of gritty, young, guitar-centric acts. But nascent Norman trio Poolboy has a knack for riotous hooks that few of its contemporaries can boast.
Press materials for The American Three tag the new vocal group as “fun and wholesome,” with a little Rat Pack thrown in “just for flavor!” It’s that extra flavor that Three member and lifelong Ol’ Blue Eyes fan Nathan Mickle believes fits his song stylings to a T.
center Nathan Mickle
“My parents always had a bunch of Frank Sinatra records lying around, along with Tony Bennett and Harry Connick Jr. ... all of those guys I would sing along to,” Mickle said. “The records actually taught me how to sing before I even really got into it professionally.”
A music career almost didn’t happen, as he once was interested more in taking to the field than the stage.
“I had always played sports, but when I was attending Deer Creek, I was kind of talked into joining choir and it got me into my first musical, and that’s when it all kind of started. That’s when I found my calling.”
After graduating from Oklahoma City University with a master’s degree, Mickle posted videos of himself performing on YouTube. One such video intrigued the future manager of the act, Vince Kavanaugh; fellow members Josh Cobb and Sam Swerczek were found the same way.
“He actually had the idea of bringing three guys together from across the country to sing music that kind of embodies the American vision of the American experience: show tunes, Christmas songs, patriotic stuff, pop standards,” Mickle said. “Timeless music based on jazz, old standards and the Great American Songbook. We all jumped at the chance.”
The American Three’s debut album, One, released in January, was unique in that the trio rehearsed the music online and only met each other while recording the disc in Nashville.
However, Mickle said it was as if they had known each other for years, which comes across in their live shows.
“We like to have a lot of fun onstage,” he said. “We don’t take ourselves too seriously. It’s not like whenever we do a concert, we want everyone to sit down and bathe in the music. It’s not a classical concert, by any means. We all grew up watching the Rat Pack and we take that into our performances.”
A second album will follow soon. “What I’m probably most excited about [is] showing people what I’ve been doing,” Mickle said. “I work at the Apple Store, and I have a lot of friends in Oklahoma and they all kind of wonder, ‘What do you do every weekend when you’re gone?’ I keep telling them I’m doing music, but now I can finally show them.”