4th Annual Tulsa Skyline Music Festival was a Wild Success
This will be part two of my coverage of this event, you can find part one about the VIP Gospel Brunch here.
Again, special thanks to Phil Clarkin, Sean Payne of Oklahoma Reviews, and Rick Owens who gave me permission to use their photos of the day in my articles. My hope is between my words and their images, we can paint a pretty vivid picture of the day.
The festival officially kicked off at 3 p.m with Steve Liddell, Casii Stephan and Joe Mack song swapping at the Venue Shrine. Just 30 minutes later John Fell, Chloe Johns and Wink Burcham fired up the Mercury Lounge.
That’s how it went all day long, a new set of artists or bands starting every 30 minutes. You could hop back and forth and catch them all if you were energetic enough.
My Backstage Queens co-host Leah Rae was with me for the festival and we spent the majority of the time rounding up musicians and hauling them across the street to Burn Co. BBQ, which was set up as the festival green room, to record podcast episodes with us. Herding musicians is a lot like herding cats, so it was an entertaining task for the two of us. Which left little time to actually see much of the music, but we did catch snippets of acts here and there.
Our first podcast guest was John ‘Doc’ Fell and his lovely wife Kira. We grabbed him as soon as he hopped off stage, and Chris Blevins, Nellie Clay and Jacob Dement were going on. Across the Street Craig Skinner, Mark Chamberlain, Monica Taylor and Scott Evans were about to go on, and I managed to catch a bit of their performance.
I love watching Monica Taylor do her thing. Her whole aura is so light and friendly, she embodies the spirit of a hippie full of love and compassion. Her voice is angelic, and her style is lovely. I’ve always enjoyed her music, but I think I enjoy her stories more. She has a lot of them, and I’ve been collecting them for some time. Eventually I’ll share all the stories I’ve collected in my History of Red Dirt book. Hopefully sooner rather than later.
The second group that we were able to record with included Paul Benjaman, who sat and chatted with us for a bit solo before Randy Crouch came and set in with his stories as well. I love Randy Crouch, he’s such a quirky and fun soul. His smile radiates such a youthful vigor that doesn’t match up with his age for sure.
Randy shared his wacky wisdom with us for a bit before they both had to go rehearse for their later performance and John Cooper sat down with us in their place.
John Cooper, and the Red Dirt Rangers, have been integral to the creation of the Red Dirt Relief Fund and many other great things within the Okie music scene. The idea of the fund was born out of their tragic helicopter accident back in 2004, when they realized how easily it was to get in a place of need and how great it would be to have a safety net for Oklahoma musicians and workers. John Cooper has worked on that project and many more, solidifying the safety net in place for the music community and making sure that the red dirt scene could grow and thrive. The Red Dirt Rangers have also been a big part of making sure the history of the scene and it’s members have been shared and memorialized in many different ways.
Coop gave us all the details about some exciting things coming up for the Rangers, which you’ll have to wait until the podcast episode is released to hear.
After that set of recordings, we wandered back across the street to the Mercury Lounge. My very favorite thing about the Mercury Lounge, besides the fact that they always host a sizeable amount of exceptional talent, is that they have a slushy machine full of frozen Vegas bombs, which were perfect for the hot day.
At that time Jesse Aycock, Jason Scott and Dustin Pittsley were on stage and we caught a few of their songs before heading across the street to the shrine to check out Amy Lee, Austin Hayworth and Carrie Latshaw. Larry Spears was set to be on the bill, but unfortunately he had heart surgery that week and was unable to come. We send him all the love for a speedy recovery and that he’s back on his feet quickly.
Throughout the whole event, there were people everywhere sharing Tom Skinner songs and stories and I would find myself stopping every now and then, taking the moment in and smiling, knowing Tiny was there in spirit and how magnificent it is to see the legacy he left behind.
Between the running around here and there we did get to hug necks and catch up with many of the tribe in our music family, which is always so nice. I don’t get out to near as many shows as I once have in the past, and I miss the camaraderie that comes from sharing a love of the music and the scene. There are people I only get to see a few times a year, but they are still very near and dear to my heart and I consider them my music family. That’s one of my favorite parts about events like these, just the chance to see everyone all in one spot .
The next set of folks we got to sit down and chat with included Nellie Clay, Jacob Dement, Jason Scott and my dear friend Rick Owens. They were a fun bunch to chat about the Oklahoma music scene and the challenges and triumphs of it all.
While we were doing that John Williams, Greg Jacobs, John Cooper and Kurt Nielson were jamming out the Venue and Jacob Tovar, Jared Tyler and Kalyn Fay, with special guest John Fullbright were swapping it up at the Mercury. We got to catch just the tail end of them after our podcast recording.
Which led right into the Damn Quails jumping up on stage there, to the shouts of appreciation from the crowd. They had Buffalo Rogers on harp and Lane Hawkins on fiddle, both were a blast to watch. They of course always bring the house down with their high excitement performances and exceptional songs.
While they were entertaining the covey, The Science Project Band and friends were rocking out the Venue Shrine.
Next came a collective mix of okie artists at the Mercury and Randy Crouch and the Flying Horse band with special guest Paul Benjaman over at the Shrine.
While all those guys were doing their thing, we grabbed Luke Mullenix, Gabe Marshall and Tom Young from the Quails and recorded a podcast, getting to catch up with what they have been up to lately.
Overall, the event was jam packed and hard hitting. It was an emotional day full of memories and love, of songs and stories, of catching up with friends and helping fund the safety net that Red Dirt Relief Fund provides. There were really cool silent auction items that everyone bid on, some great vendors like my personal favorite Uncle Bekah’s Inappropriate Trucker Hats, and some other really cool things you could buy.
It takes so many people to pull off this kind of event, and I saw all of you there working your tails off, from the volunteers who helped keep everything going smoothly, so the ones who manned the doors and checked people in. Thank you to everyone who pours their heart and soul, their time and talents, into making events like these happen. None of it could happen without you, and we appreciate you.
That goes to all the amazing and talented artists that we are so lucky to have here in Oklahoma, to each and every fan that supports the scene. We really are one big family, and it takes all of us to make it work.
Part of the official statement from Red Dirt relief was this:
“This past Sunday afternoon, more than 400 music fans flocked to 18th & Boston in Tulsa for the fourth annual Tom Skinner Skyline Music Fest. They were treated to songs and stories from more than 40 Oklahoma musicians in songwriter-in-the-round sets, first-time musician pairings and even a few full band sets that rocked the house! The festival raised $15,441 for Oklahoma musicians in crisis—almost double what was raised in previous years.”
“Red Dirt Relief Fund Executive Director Katie Dale attributes the continued growth of the festival to support from musicians, sponsors, venues and an eclectic lineup. “We want to showcase the power of the song by inviting new talent to mix with old in a way Tom Skinner did throughout his life. It didn’t hurt that the Fullbright & Friends brunch sold out, so the crowd was there from the beginning. What an amazing day that just reminds me how fortunate we are to have such a tight-knit Oklahoma music family.”
Overall the music was continuous, the laughter was echoing, the smiles were everywhere, and the love was thick in the air. If you missed it, you really missed it. See ya there next year.