Oklahoma Uprising: By Bryon White
By Byron White
This article or blog or whatever you’d prefer the following bunch of words be called is about Joel T. Mosman and the Oklahoma Uprising. They’re releasing their first EP entitled “Bridges and Borderlines” this Saturday with two shows at Anthem Brewing in Oklahoma City. It’s a concrete collection of original tunes recorded at the T. Hodge Lodge in Shawnee, Oklahoma. You should go to the record release show and buy it, or buy it online and go see the show anyway. I played lead guitar on the tracks. Dates for upcoming performances as well as other pertinent information related to Joel T. Mosman and the Oklahoma Uprising can be found at www.OklahomaUprising.com.
That about sums up the relevant information of this article/blog/whatever you want to call it. The justification for that brief summation is to ensure that, should you decide the rest of this writing is too long for you to give a damn about finishing it, you’ll at least be informed of the information I intended to inform you of before you throw your hands in the air and give up on me altogether. I wouldn’t exactly blame you for giving up on me, and rest assured, you wouldn’t be the first to do so. However, if you’re interested in the intermingling histories of myself and Joel T. Mosman and the Oklahoma Uprising, you should continue reading as if this paragraph never even existed. That being typed…
After I graduated from Oklahoma City University back in 2006, I spent a few months bumming around my hometown (Shawnee, where I’ve somehow managed to end up living again) working at CD Warehouse before landing my first “real” job as an Autocad Technician at Frankfurt-Short-Bruza, a reputable A/E (that’s Architectural/Engineering, folks) firm based in OKC. When I was hired on at that “real” job, I then needed a “real” place to live that didn’t require waking up at 6 a.m., sitting in the driver’s seat of my sedan for an hour, and shouting at my fellow commuters bearing a twisted scowl every morning. The commute from Shawnee to my office at the Paragon Building was a vicious and unholy bastard of a drive, and it only took a few months of making that God-awful drive every God-forsaken morning before I decided it would be in the best interest of my fragile psyche to find a house in OKC to hang my hat. So, I spent my lunch hours at FSB driving around the metro while smoking joints rolled up in blue cellulose papers (which I affectionately dubbed “blue-bies”) and tried to find a house that I could both afford AND in which I would probably not get stabbed. Though I was paid fairly well for my labors, there were no houses that met both of my criteria that were also in my price range, but I did manage to find a quaint little spot on 37th street that I could almost afford, provided I could find a roommate that would split the rent and bills with me. In addition to helping out with the monetary burden, I was looking for a roommate that also played solid enough rhythm guitar to jam with in the evenings.
Joel T. Mosman was living in the extra room at the T. Hodge Lodge, a recording studio in our hometown of Shawnee, that both Joel and I have been recording music at since we were too young to legally buy cigarettes, and was looking to get out of Shawnee and into a more densely populated area in which he could learn to play music with other people. We attended Shawnee High school together and ran in roughly the same circle of friends, even though Joel was a few years my junior. We had also taken guitar lessons from the same teacher, a man named Gary Turley, who remains one of the most accomplished and tasty guitar players that I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. I called Joel up, explained my situation, and within a week I was helping him move his few meager belongings into our new pad. This house would eventually go down in infamy as the nefarious headquarters of one of the most nefarious bands in OKC, The Nefarious Double Clutchers.
During those days, Joel’s music was…how do I put this delicately…less than good. So was mine. We were at a point in our musical not-yet-careers where all we could do was attempt to emulate the sounds we heard on the records we like from the artists that we listened to. I had already released a full length album of my own songs titled “Temperance and Control” as well as a few EP’s under the band name Airfair, so I was a few steps ahead of Joel in the overall scheme of things. Joel was a good kid, and I wanted to help him through those first shaky and uncertain steps on the journey to becoming a songwriter. I also needed a good rhythm player, and since we had both been instructed by the same local badass, I knew that we wouldn’t have any trouble learning how to play songs together.
I had several friends during my college days (Michael Trepagnier, Sarah Migliaccio, Preston Williams, Chris Shy, and Clinton Trench to name a few) that introduced me to a vast variety of music with which I had previously been unfamiliar. I took that potpourri of bands and singer/songwriters and immersed myself in their catalogues. That immersion was highly beneficial to my own songwriting, so I started introducing Joel to the bands and songwriters that I was listening to at the time. He got his own job at CD Warehouse on 39th and Penn, and that position was beneficial for the both of us as we were able to borrow used compact discs from the store, take them back to the house, and rip the music onto our respective laptops without paying for any of it. Hem and haw all you like, but we didn’t have shit like Spotify or Apple Music back then. We stole that music outright and didn’t hide behind a $9.99 per month subscription fee that makes everyone feel better about doing the same fucking thing in these oh so modern times in which we live. Yes, we stole it, but those ill-gotten gains were all being put towards an eventual greater good. Joel and I were constantly pitching each other new bands and songwriters to check out, and our expanding horizons were further broadened by the addition of a third and most intense roommate, a fellow you likely know by the name of Buffalo Rogers.
As far as playing music in a professional capacity went, Buffalo Rogers was already several miles ahead of Joel and I. At the time, Buffalo was playing music with Fitz Jennings in a locally popular and award winning folk duo called, aptly, BuffaloFitz. I had met Buffalo a few years before while playing an Airfair gig in Midtown, but it wasn’t until he started consistently crashing on my couch that I realized just how goddamn good of a songwriter he really was. Not only was his songwriting prowess a few cuts above our own, he had also been on actual tours beyond the boundaries of the state and was already deeply ensconced in the Oklahoma City music scene. Buffalo and I exchanged numbers after running into one another at a street performance gig through Out of the Box Entertainment, and a week or so later, he called to ask if he could crash my couch after a gig instead of driving all the way back to his travel trailer out in Blanchard, and on that couch he remained until a year and six months later when we finally moved out.
Once Buffalo Rogers started hanging around, our overall game was substantially ramped up. Buffalo knew all the hotspots in the local music scene, including the various open mic nights and jam sessions as well as who was hosting them and how to ensure ourselves a spot. We went from playing songs in the living room to playing songs in places like Galileo’s, the Port Hole, the Belle Isle and Bricktown Breweries, and a whole lot of other spots lost to the cobwebs in my memory. It was during this time that my philosophy on “practice” really started to change. You can sit alone in your room and practice for hour upon hour, day after day, but that kind of practice truly only gets you so far. The several nights and early mornings per week that we spent playing songs together for little to no cash money at any bar or restaurant that would have us was what really took all three of us to the next level. We called our little trio The Nefarious Double Clutchers because we shared a mutual affinity for truck drivers, overall lawlessness and because it sounded like as badass a name as any for a songwriter trio.
In addition to the Nefarious Double Clutchers, I also played lead guitar and sang backup vocals from time to time for a band called Lower Middle Class. The band was started by Terry Floyd, a guy that would eventually become my brother in law a few year later and Zach Weiderstein. Travis and Nick Lyon (who currently have a badass rock and roll band called The Dead Armadillos) played bass and guitar, respectively, and there were a few other members that rotated out in various positions depending on everyone else’s availability. One of those guys was J.D. Casteel, my step brother and the first drummer I ever played music with. J.D. threw my name in the hat as a potential fill-in lead guitar player, and I played several gigs with LMC over the years. Travis Lyon taught high school in Cherokee, Oklahoma, and a few gigs came up that he couldn’t attend due to some obligations at his job, so I recommended Joel T. Mosman as a potential replacement for two gigs at Gilmore’s Barefoot Bar and Grill in El Reno. It was on Gilmores’ concrete stage that two of the core members of Oklahoma Uprising (remember them, the band this article is supposed to be about?) met and performed together for the first time.
As time went on, both LMC and the Nefarious Double Clutchers ceased to be regularly performing bands. In 2010, we moved out of the Double Clutcher house at 37th and Pennsylvania Avenue and went our separate ways. It was around this time that Gabriel Marshall and I started playing our weekly gigs together that eventually turned into the Damn Quails. Joel married his wife Dana, moved to Guthrie, and started a family. For a few years, he focused on fatherhood while still managing to play shows here and there. He continued honing his songwriting and guitar playing chops, crafting several tunes that would eventually make its way onto Bridges and Borderlines. When he decided to put his own band together, he called on Zach Weiderstein and Travis Lyon from Lower Middle Class to round out the rhythm section. When it was time to get their songs recorded, he called on one of his oldest friends from his hometown to capture them.
The T. Hodge Lodge is one of the best kept studio secrets in the state of Oklahoma. Travis Hodge has built and reinforced the space little by little over the past seventeen years and stocked it with some of the most sought after studio equipment on the market. The Oklahoma Uprising album is sonically rich and layered with performed and tasty instrumentation. Travis Hodge has a production credit as well as credit for mixing and mastering, and the tonal quality of the finished product is excellent. Scott Hunt’s fiddle and mandolin parts are traditional and precise and take up their own recognizable space in each of the tracks. Other instrumentation was added by Brett Gilbert, my best friend and the bass player in my first garage band, who played keys, and Brent Krueger, a monster of a guitar player who has performed with several bands and artist of note around the Sooner state. Finally, me myself and I played most of the lead guitar parts on a pretty badass Gibson Explorer (owned by the Lodge) that I also use when I play with The Suede Panther from time to time ensure maximum rock and roll carnage.
All In all, the Bridges and Borderlines EP is well worth the purchase. Go check out OklahomaUprising.com and get it for yourself, and while you’re there, look up some of their upcoming performances and go take in a show. The band truly shines in a live setting and you’re probably just sitting around anyway. So go on. Git!
Until next time, folks and folkettes…