“My baby said I was crazy. My mama called me lazy. I was gonna show ’em all this time, ’cause you know I ain’t no foolin’ and I don’t need no more schoolin’, I was born to just walk the line. Livin’ on Tulsa Time.” –Don Williams, Livin’ on Tulsa Time.
My wife certainly called me crazy when I suggested we spend New Year’s Eve in Tulsa, just a quick eight-hour drive away. When I mentioned Tulsa, her first question was “what concert do you want to see?” She may think I’m crazy, but she also knows me well.
It was two concerts actually. I have always wanted to hit Cody Canada’s annual Hangover Ball on New Year’s Day. But due to holiday tournaments, it had never worked out. This year, the tournaments were over by Dec. 28. Bingo.
The selling point for Sarah, however, was the addition of William Clark Green on New Year’s Eve. She Likes the Beatles is one of our couples songs, and was in consideration for first dance at the wedding.
So…I made my first trip to Oklahoma since graduating training at Ft. Sill in 1997. This blog post is three weeks late, because…two jobs, so I will keep the recap short, but I have pictures and videos, because of course I do.
We had originally planned for the first meal of the road trip to be a taphouse in Springfield, Mo., but a flat tire set up back on the schedule. Shoutout to Discount Tire in O’Fallon for the quick service. But we needed food before we would roll through Springfield. Sarah has learned that when we don’t have a specific plan on the road, a brewhouse will always work, so…
Public House, somewhere in the middle of Missouri.
That put us in Tulsa later than we wanted, but not too late we didn’t start with one of the first places to go in the To-Do list and one that was the most recommended by people who know my tastes–The Valkyrie.
This got pretty expensive in a hurry, as I did double pours of the Old Fitz 19 and the Ardbeg. I could have spent a month here and been happy. The whiskey list was just incredible. Sarah’s cocktails looked pretty good too, and she debated “running the rail” on those.
By the time we left Valkyrie, I was declaring the arts district of Tulsa the “best block ever”, occasionally a little too boisterously.
It also required a late night food stop at The Tavern for a soak up.
The Valkyrie cocktails may have been talking for Sarah too, as she was declaring this the best Mac ever!
Not bad for a first night in town.
By the time we sobered up the next morning, we decided the “best block ever” talk may have been hyperbole. But then we got breakfast tacos at Chimera Cafe :
Best block…back on the table, literally.
Then some adventuring around town. The Art District is a fun little area, with everything walkable. And that includes the Bob Dylan Center. I’m not a Dylan wonk, but I do respect his place in music history and the impact he has had on a genre I spend most of my time dabbling with. So this was a pretty cool experience. The below pictures are but a tiny sample of what was on display, with video, audio and imaging providing an immersive experience.
I enjoyed it enough I bought the poster in that last slide, one of just 200 and the last one in stock.
Then, it was on to another brewery, American Solera.
I did drag Sarah to a comic book shop, but I feel like I made up for it with the next stops. We did hit the Center of the Universe, and Magic City Bookshop.
Aside from Valkyrie, the place I was most excited for was Phryme, which was actually next to our hotel and one of the top-rated steakhouses in the midwest. I made dinner reservations about five minutes after I booked the hotel and got the concert tickets.
It did not disappoint, with a NYE surf and turf special, and a great french wine to boot. Wait staff was great, and we talked wine quite a bit with our sommelier. Just look at the tasting menu. We both went with that.
Then it was finally on to the first show: William Clark Green and The Damn Quails. This was my first time for WCG, and second for the Damn Quails. I had seen them before at a small bar in Rochester, IL and enjoyed it quite a bit, although I did spend a good portion of the night drinking and smoking with Tom Skinner, so that may have clouded the night.
Plus, I finally got to tick Cain’s Ballroom off the bucket list. Considering I live in BFE Illinois, knocking Billy Bob’s and Cain’s off in the same year is something worth celebrating.
I will say The Damn Quails were more enjoyable the first time I saw them. Sarah did not enjoy them at all, at one point asking me if the lead singer had something wrong. At times, it was just noise. We were, however, in the front row right in front of the speakers. The quieter parts were the better parts.
William Clark Green, however, put on a bona fide rock show, complete with the midnight countdown on new year’s eve, all his hits and some fun covers as well, playing until 1 a.m. He has now been added to the “will see if anywhere near” list.
We went into New Year’s Day with no real plans outside of the concert, simply because we did not know what would be open. Turns out, we found another brewery that was: Heirloom.
Instead of hunting for supper, we went back across the street from the hotel to The Tavern. Sarah wanted a return date with that mac and cheese (best ever!, according to sources). We went sampler style for supper. I had some Weller’s here as well.
Then it was back to the corner of Easton and Main, so soak up some bourbon stain at the Hangover Ball 2023. The Ball has a core group of people who play nearly every year, and then a cadre of rotating guests. Cody Canada, Mike McClure, Jaime Lin Wilson and BJ Barham have turned into the regulars. The Ball is set up guitar pull style, with artists trading songs back and forth while sitting in chairs with acoustic guitars. It is a mellow-ish singer-songwriter night designed for the post-NYE shenanigans.
They also have started featuring a first set of younger artists centered around Cody’s son, Dierks. The first set has apparently gotten better and better and has gone from a cutesy “look at the kids” to a certified set with some talented people. I genuinely look forward to releases from every one of the acts in this group this year. The openers were: Remi Mae, Elle Gorman, Elysha Masters and Dierks Canada, and Wade Wilson.
The B set was the highlight for us and how I got Sarah ultimately to agree to the trip. We will always travel for BJ Barham. Then toss in cool ass mo’fo Ray Wylie Hubbard and Jamie Lin Wilson and you have “the best B set ever!” Noticing a theme yet?
Sarah hates Snake Farm. She still enjoyed Ray Wylie doing all the Ray Wylie things. Jamie Lin has turned into the unsung hero of the show the last couple of years and BJ is just the best frontman in music right now. Sarah like Jamie Lin enough that was the one shirt she bought on the night. Mostly because I think we own all of BJ’s already.
And here is where we get to the biggest negative of the trip. The music was great. We got there early and got up in the front. Second row just off the rail. Great spot. Other than a group of four people who damn near ruined the night. Yelling at the artists while others were playing, stepping on people’s feet, yelling at the artists again, staggering onto people, one even pulled Sarah’s ponytail because “your hair is pretty.” I’m use to concert talkers. I’m use to drunks stumbling. I’m use to “Play Freebird” and song request guy. This group was the worst I have seen at a concert yet. The people behind us were rooting for them to fall over at one point. After the B set, we gave up our spot and moved toward the back just to get away from them.
Even with all that going on, B Group did kill it. Wish I could have experienced without all the other stuff going on around them.
Of course, as soon as we moved back a ways, Sarah got a drink dumped on her. She was over it. And about an hour in to the A set, I was over it too. It had nothing to do with the music, but I was so frustrated with the experience with the people, I did something I never do…I left the concert before it was over. As Sarah said, “I’ve never seen you hit a wall at a concert before.” I don’t think I ever had (aside from Ozzy Osbourne just being awful, oh and Coheed and Cambria), but it finally happened.
Cody Canada, Stoney Larue, Mike McClure and Ryan Snipe put on a fine show. I just wasn’t in a mood to enjoy it by then. And three weeks later, I’m still a little bitter about it. We did at least walk through the park on the way home and end the night on a good night looking at the lit trees.
All in all, Tulsa surprised us and made the list of “would do again”. I still have a solid list of places we didn’t get to and a few we would like to repeat.