Yearly Archives: 2008

Legends roll from rock’s roots

It’s easy to take rock and roll for granted. It’s been the dominant musical form in the western world for more than half a century now and there isn’t a genre whose modern form doesn’t owe something to that surprisingly potent blend of country and blues.  For anyone who’s forgotten what we owe to our musical forebears, however, Cain’s brought a couple of messengers for rock’s roots to their main stage in the last week: living blues legend Buddy Guy on the night of December 10th, and “psychobilly” veterans The Reverend Horton Heat on the 12th.  Both acts played sets that acted as retrospectives of the last 50 years of music history, and both had crowds begging for encores.
Guy, who has been recording since 1956, took the stage with all the energy of a musician thirty years his junior, playing song after song, and rarely even stopping for applause.  Indeed, thanks to his extended pentatonic improvisation, each song blended into the next, giving the show the feeling of some of the great psychedelic bands of the 60’s (who, of course, all owed a huge debt to Guy).  Guy powered through a long set that included songs he had popularized, in addition to some blues standards like Muddy Waters’ “Hoochie Coochie Man.”

Guy made it clear, however, that he was there to teach the audience a thing or two about music history.  “In the 1960’s you all had something called the ‘British Invasion,’” he said, “when some of those boys from England came over and introduced you to the blues.  It wasn’t anything new—you just needed the Brits to tell you what you already had!  You didn’t know what the f— you had.”  Guy then launched into an extensive improvised solo in which he did his best imitations of the guitar styles of John Lee Hooker, Eric Clapton, Muddy Waters, and—yes—even Jimi Hendrix.  Guy played his (wirless) guitar behind his back and between his legs without missing a beat, and even wandered out into the audience (where he was, of course, swarmed by people with camera phones).  His guitar’s screams and his own cathartic moans continued long into the night.
Guy took a break from straight blues, however, for a song or two in order to tell the story of the title song (a country ballad) from his latest album, Skin Deep.  “This is a song,” he said, “that I actually began writing when I was nine years old.  I grew up in Louisiana, and my best friend was white—then we got a little older, and they told us we couldn’t play together anymore.  But I know—you know—that underneath, we’re all the same.  Our differences are only skin-deep.”  Tom Hambridge, the white trad-rock drummer who had played the opening set, joined him onstage to sing backing vocals for the song.  Racial unity may be a trendy topic, but it was clear that Guy meant every word he sang—and that, of course, is the true hallmark of a great bluesman.
Two days later, the Reverend Horton Heat—a three-piece group from Dallas, Texas—took the stage to connect the dots a bit more. The group has been performing “psychobilly”—a raw, sped-up combination of blues and country—since 1985, and are still going strong.  They took the crowd on a frenetic tour of their hits from the last couple of decades, including “Callin’ in Twisted,” “Revival” and “Psychobilly Freakout”—much to the delight of the crowd surfers.
“It’s almost Christmas time,” lead singer Jim Heath told the crowd, to scattered applause. After pausing for a moment, he added, “Well, I’m glad nobody booed Christmas.  Sometimes I’ll say that and people will actually boo.  I mean seriously, it’s not a bad season, right?  Well, we’re going to play a couple of Christmas songs for you.  This one is probably one that The King himself, Elvis, probably sang on this exact same stage,” he said before playing a thoughtful rendition of “Santa Bring My Baby Back (To Me).”  The band then played a couple more numbers from their recent Christmas album We Three Kings, including “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” (which they paired with the old Batman theme, of course) and Chuck Berry’s “Run Rudolph Run” (for which Heath and double bassists Jimbo Wallace traded instruments), before Heath said, dismissively, “Okay, no more Christmas music.”  
The band then proceeded with the remainder of the set, which included a more classic cuts and some new ones from their upcoming album (including the insightful “Ain’t No Saguaro in Texas”).  Heath’s formidable, eclectic guitar skills were on full display as he shot gunned his lyrics into his old-timey-looking microphone, and when the band left the stage, the crowd was more than happy to demand an encore.  Like Guy had two nights ago, The Rev had succeeded in entertaining the crowd while sneaking in a lesson about music history.

About the author:
A graduate of the University of Nebraska, Luke Harrington currently resides in Tulsa and works in the aerospace industry–but, at any given moment, would probably rather be reviewing movies and music.  In his spare time, he’s off playing blues piano, pretending to be Assistant Editor for, or reviewing the many musical events in Northeastern Oklahoma for Tulsa Today.

Photo Credit: Photos by Kevin Pyle

Tulsa’s Holloway honored

Thursday, 18 December 2008
The University of Tulsa’s Wilson Holloway is the winner of the FedEx Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award.  Holloway, a red-shirt freshman offensive lineman from Oklahoma City, has battled cancer since last spring, when a softball-sized mass was discovered in his chest.

Holloway, from Edmond, Oklahoma and Oklahoma Christian High School, will be presented the award at the BCS Championship Game on Jan. 8 in Miami.  He will also be honored that day at the Football Writers Association of America’s annual awards breakfast.

“I don’t think anyone sets their goal at the beginning of the year that, ‘Boy, I hope I win the Courage Award,’” said Tulsa co-offensive coordinator Herb Hand.  “But … I can’t think of a better guy to get it.  On top of that, once he whips this cancer, he’ll be a tremendous player for us and he’ll be an inspiration to a bunch of people.”

After Holloway was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, he underwent chemotherapy treatment throughout the spring and returned to play for the Golden Hurricane this season on special teams and in a reserve role.

Last October, however, tests on a swollen lymph node showed the cancer had returned.  He began a treatment cycle that included two rounds of chemotherapy with three-week breaks between, followed by five straight days of treatment during which he was sequestered in the hospital.

Despite the cancer, Holloway played in six games – including one game (Oct. 26 vs. Central Florida) after he had begun treatment.  When he began losing his hair, his fellow offensive linemen shaved their heads.  Hand did, as well.

His coaches and teammates say through it all, Holloway has remained optimistic and determined.

“The natural thing a person asks in that situation is, “Why me?’”  Hand said, “Whether Wilson has ever asked himself that or not, you’d never know just because of the way he’s handled it.  He’s shown an unbelievable courage and a great spirit and attitude.”

“There’s a light on the other side,” Holloway told the Tulsa World.  “I’m keeping an upbeat, positive spirit about it.  God doesn’t put anything on us that we can’t handle.  That’s the one reason that I’ve been so calm about it.”

“We’re extremely proud of Wilson’s courage and his faith,” Tulsa Head Coach Todd Graham said.  “His example to our team has been absolutely outstanding.  We’re so excited for him to be honored this way with the Courage Award.  It’s an unbelievable reflection on such a great human being…

“He’s been a tremendous example to everyone on how to face adversity and that’s with an unbelievable faith and determination.  He’s got a spirit that is extremely unique and has been an inspiration to our team.”

When Holloway began losing his hair, his fellow offensive linemen shaved their heads

The Courage Award was created by ESPN The Magazine’s senior writer Gene Wojciechowski, also a FWAA member.  A select group of writers from the FWAA vote on the winner each year.  The requirements for nomination include displaying courage on or off the field, including overcoming an injury or physical handicap, preventing a disaster or living through hardship.

Previous winners of the FWAA’s Courage Award are Navy’s Zerbin Singleton (2007), Clemson’s Ray Ray McElrathbey (2006), the Tulane football team (2005), Memphis’ Haracio Colen (2004), San Jose State’s Neil Parry (2003) and Toledo’s William Bratton (2002).

Celebrating its 75th anniversary, the Orange Bowl Committee is a not-for-profit, 333-member, primarily-volunteer organization.  It is a self-sustaining, independent organization that supports and produces activities and events that enhance the image, economy and culture of South Florida.  In addition to the 75th edition of the Orange Bowl Festival, which features a year-round schedule of events culminating with the FedEx Orange Bowl on January 1, the Orange Bowl Committee will host the 2009 FedEx BCS Championship Game on January 8.  For more information on the 2008-09 Orange Bowl Festival and its events, including promotional and volunteer opportunities, log on to

The Football Writers Association of America, a non-profit organization founded in 1941, consists of more than 1,000 men and women across North America who cover college football for a living. The membership includes journalists, broadcasters and publicists, as well as key executives in all the areas that involve the game. The FWAA works to govern areas that include game day operations, major awards, a national poll and its annual All-America team.

2008 FedEx Orange Bowl Courage Award Nominees
· Artrell Woods, Oklahoma State
· Terence Campbell, East Carolina
· Johnell Neal, Central Florida
· Wilson Holloway, Tulsa
· Inquoris “Inky” Johnson, Tennessee
· Richard Bowman, North Dakota State
· Tyson Gentry, Ohio State
· Chris Ogbonnaya, Texas
· Robert Quinn, North Carolina
· Brandon Antwine, Florida
Last Updated ( Thursday, 18 December 2008 )

Gumm continues fight to end grocery tax

Lawmakers at the state and federal levels are looking for ways to spur economic growth, and an Oklahoma legislator has a plan to boost his state’s economy.
Senator Jay Paul Gumm says a tax cut geared toward working and middle class Oklahomans is “a sure-fire way” to strengthen Oklahoma’s economy. That is why the Democratic senator from Durant has continued his fight to remove the sales tax on groceries.
“Removing the grocery tax would provide a state economic stimulus and help every Oklahoma family,” said Gumm. “Removal of the state sales tax on groceries would put real money back into the pockets of working and middle-class families, helping keep Oklahoma’s economy strong.”

Gumm’s Senate Bill 42 would remove the sales tax on eligible food and beverages, excluding alcoholic beverages and tobacco. Oklahoma’s state sales tax on groceries is 4.5 cents on every dollar spent; some cities and counties have levies that drive the total tax to more than 9 cents on the dollar in some areas.

“The money Oklahomans save at the check-out stand would be spent on other necessities, further spurring retail spending,” he said.  “If the best way to strengthen the economy is to get direct and rapid dollars into consumers’ hands, then ending the state grocery tax is the best way for state government to do that for the long term, beyond this current downturn.”

Gumm has championed removing the grocery tax for years, but the effort has met fierce opposition from the many state lobby groups that represent small cities and towns. Under provisions of this year’s bill, the state would reimburse municipalities and counties for any revenue lost as a result of the sales tax exemption.  (How expensive that would be for the larger metropolitian areas not detailed.)

“Everybody buys groceries, and working and middle-class families spend a greater proportion of their income on necessities like food, and a larger proportion of their income on this tax than do the wealthiest among us,” he said. “Ending this unfair tax would strengthen families and spur retail spending, which is the best way to spur a state or national economy.”

The lawmaker noted several proposals for cutting taxes are already being discussed. Former Gov. Frank Keating recently called on the new Republican majorities in the Legislature to repeal the income tax.  Instead, Gumm said lawmakers of both political parties should focus efforts to help Oklahomans most in need of help: working and middle class families.

“If we’re going to talk about reducing any taxes this year, the grocery tax should be the one tossed into history’s trash can,” he asserted.  “The grocery tax is a hurtful, regressive tax that hits average families hardest because it devours a greater percentage of their income than it does for the very wealthy. Ending the state grocery tax – like the back-to-school sales tax holiday – would put money back into the pockets of those who need it most while providing businesses with a much-needed boost.”

SB 42 will be considered by lawmakers when the Oklahoma Legislature convenes Feb. 2, 2009.  It has been considered often and with no success.  While such a proposal sounds good, the many small towns in Oklahoma have no other business beyond a grocery store and rural legislators and their supporters will not allow the removal of their only source of local revenue. 

This was one issue now U.S. Representative John Sullivan (R-Dist.1) pushed hard with no success during his years of service in state government.

Ok military officers confirmed

U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, yesterday announced the Senate confirmations of the appointments of two Oklahoma generals. Air Force Maj. Gen. Harry M. “Bud” Wyatt III, currently serving as the Adjutant General of Oklahoma, was confirmed last evening to his appointment as the Director of the Air National Guard.  Air Force Maj. Gen. Loren M. Reno, serving as commander of the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center, Air Force Material Command at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma, was confirmed on Monday evening to his appointment as Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics, Installations and Mission Support.   Both officers will be promoted to the grade of Lieutenant General in their new roles.
“The confirmations of Major General Wyatt as the Director of the Air National Guard and Major General Reno as Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics, Installations and Mission Support will greatly benefit both our state and our nation,” Senator Inhofe said.  “Both of these officers are fine men who have worked hard on behalf of the state of Oklahoma and our United States Armed Forces; no one could be more deserving of these honors.

“General Wyatt’s leadership of the Oklahoma National Guard as the Adjutant General has been nothing short of flawless.  Since 2003, he has successfully overseen an increase in operations and deployments of the men and women of the Oklahoma National Guard.  His dedication to duty and tireless devotion to his state and nation have been paralleled by few in my experience as a Member of Congress for over 20 years.  I am confident that under his leadership, the United States Air National Guard will see the same success that General Wyatt has brought to each organization in which he has served.

“I had the opportunity to travel with General Wyatt to the Middle East and Africa on a week-long congressional delegation earlier this year, and had the chance to speak to him extensively about the threats our nation faces and the demands these threats have placed on our National Guard and Reserve. We also spoke about the impact that current operations are having on Guard equipment and personnel.  General Wyatt is more than professionally acquainted with these issues, as his son is an Army Captain who recently returned from his service in Iraq with the Oklahoma National Guard’s 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.  I was heartened by the great degree of conviction with which General Wyatt believes in the ability of the Guard and Reserve to meet these demands, and I know he will lead the Air National Guard with that same skill and conviction.

“Major General Reno has served Oklahoma with distinction in his years as the Commander of the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center at Tinker Air Force Base.  Tinker is the third largest employer in Oklahoma, and General Reno helped shepherd through one of the biggest growth opportunities for the Base with the joint acquisition between the Air Force and local community of the abandoned GM plant that is located adjacent to the base. Because of this partnership, our state stands to make great economic gains by attracting new businesses as well as further integrating Tinker into the Oklahoma City community.  At Tinker, he worked to ensure the Air Logistics Center provided effective and efficient weapon system acquisition and sustainment, depot maintenance, purchasing and supply chain management, and installation, information and services support.

“In his new role as the Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics, Installations, and Mission Support at Air Force Headquarters at the Pentagon, Major General Reno will be responsible to the Chief of Staff for leadership, management and integration of Air Force logistics, readiness, aircraft and missile maintenance, civil engineering and security forces. He will also help set policy and prepare budget estimates that reflect enhancements to productivity, combat readiness and quality of life for members of the Air Force.  The Air Staff is gaining an officer of strong moral character and dedication to his job and nation, and I look forward to continue working with him from his new post.”
Click to see more information on Major General Wyatt or Major General Reno.

Heating up Cain’s

It’s been over fifty years since Elvis Presley (and others) mixed country with rhythm and blues to create “rockabilly,” and apparently the formula works: people are still doing it – even if it often takes on other forms.

The Reverend Horton Heat, a three-piece band that has been described – according, at least, to their press releases – as the “Perpetual Carriers of the Rockabilly Flame” is virtually an American institution by now – having existed since 1985, the “psychobilly” (a mixture of rockabilly, punk rock, and a number of other things) trio has made a name for themselves in nearly every corner of the music underground.

Friday night, they’ll bring their distinctive sound to Cain’s Ballroom.

The Rev (as lead singer Jim Heath is known to his fans) is famous for putting on an electrifying live show – which one reviewer once described as “putting on a stainless steel suit and running full bore into an electric fence.” Friday night should be no different, especially with the band taking the stage at a venue described as “the birthplace of western swing” (as Cain’s mascot Bob Wills once put it: “Rock and roll? Why, man, that’s the same kind of music we’ve been playin’ since 1928!”).
But why “The Reverend?” Glad you asked. Heat(h) answers the question himself: “Well, there used to be this guy who ran this place in Deep Ellum, Texas who used to call me Horton – my last  name is Heath.  Anyway, this guy hired me and right before the show he goes, ‘Your stage name should be Reverend Horton Heat! Your music is like gospel’…and I thought it was pretty ridiculous.  So I’m up there playing and after the first few songs, people are saying, ‘Yeah, Reverend!’  What’s really funny is that this guy gave up the bar business, and actually became a preacher!  Now he comes to our shows and says, ‘Jim, you really should drop this whole Reverend thing.’”
The band released their most recent album in 2005; it’s a Christmas album, which seems somewhat bizarrely appropriate. The upshot is that the band has plenty of material to fill their December performances, making this the ideal show for anyone in the mood for some irreverent holiday music – or just longing for a couple hours of no-holds-barred rock ‘n roll.
The Reverend Horton Heat will play Cain’s Ballroom Friday, December 12th, with openers Nashville Pussy and Backyard Tire Fire. Click here for tickets.

About the author:
A graduate of the University of Nebraska, Luke Harrington currently resides in Tulsa and works in the aerospace industry–but, at any given moment, would probably rather be reviewing movies and music.  In his spare time, he’s off playing blues piano, pretending to be Assistant Editor for, or reviewing the many musical events in Northeastern Oklahoma for Tulsa Today.