The Hangover Ball Review: By Rick Owens
Cain's Ballroom. New Years Day. The huddled masses braved the barely double digit temperatures to witness the annual Hangover Ball. If the crowd was hungover, you'd never know it. They were as wound up as could be, and ready to watch their Red Dirt heroes play a coveted song swap at the historic home of Bob Wills.
Cody Canada welcomed the crowd and gave a brief history of the event, stating that it started in Texas, was brought to the Wormy Dog in OKC, and has comfortably found it's home in Tulsa. He introduced the first round of song swappers, which included fellow Texans Wade Bowen, William Clark Green, Jamie Lin Wilson, and honorary Texan via Raleigh, NC, BJ Barham.
All of the artists were in high spirits and you could clearly tell they were enjoying each others company on that stage. Wade Bowen kicked off the evening, and requested some Okie guitar on stage, so Cody adorned the first set with impeccably timed and thoroughly enjoyable lead guitar. Jamie Lin wowed the audience with moving performances, and although she didn't have the sing-alongs that the other artists enjoyed, she absolutely captivated the audience with her angelic voice and stirring delivery.
The audience heard not-yet-released American Aquarium songs from BJ Barham, who just finished recording with John Fullbright right there in Tulsa in December. The crowd would also all scream the ever popular chorus to I Hope He Breaks Your Heart, with the songwriter standing up on a monitor at the edge of the stage, grinning from ear to ear.
The first significant "sing along" of the evening came when William Clark Green did the title track to his most recent album, Ringling Road. I think he was pleasantly surprised by the audience participation, stating at the end "I'm surprised you guys like that song." After that comment someone said "that's YOUR Carney Man!" garnering laughs from the audience and the players alike. Wade was the next up on the rotation and he cleverly baited a reluctant Cody Canada to play the popular Cross Canadian Ragweed song and the audience went wild.
The next set was a group of songwriters that go back about as far as you can go in the modern Red Dirt music scene. Evan Felker of the Turnpike Troubadours stated on the microphone and for the record "I don't even know how I got to be on this stage. I get to play with my heroes." And certainly, Cody Canada, Jason Boland, and Mike McClure are indeed Red Dirt Royalty and an amazing sight to be seen on stage all together.
All of the artists did their acoustic versions of beloved crowd favorites and had the music goers rattling the rafters of the historic Cain's Ballroom, singing along and cheering loudly for each song. Whether it was McClure channeling the spirit of Tom Skinner for Used To Be and Blind Man, or Boland's velvety smooth voice singing about a rest area outside of Guthrie, Oklahoma, or Cody bringing out his Dad, Ronnie, and Jamie Lin Wilson to help him with a Merle Haggard song, the fans got every cent of their money's worth and cheered for more.
The Turnpike Troubadours had just played the previous two nights for a sold out Cain's audience, so if there was anyone that would be in a position to be hungover, it would be Evan Felker. But he made certain he didn't suffer from a hangover by employing the age old remedy commonly known as the "hair of the dog." It was a combination of the elation of the evening, mixed with a few shots and beers, that gave the Troubadour front man the courage to do a little crowd surfing while everyone was belting out every word to the classic Ragweed hit "17."
If it's true that you're always seventeen in your hometown, then it must also be true, that you're absolutely guaranteed a fantastic experience at the Cain's for the Hangover Ball. If you go every year, you know what I'm talking about. If you've never been, put that one on your bucket list. It's an incredible way to start the year off right.
Have a Happy and Prosperous 2018, my music family! Cheers!