March-April, 2004

photo by Rick Weldon

April 30th--Robert Cray Concert w/special guests, Oreo Blue--George's Majestic Lounge--Fayetteville, Arkansas-- Robert Cray is a household name.  Many know him from his hits such as Right Next Door (Because of Me), Still Hot Smokin' Gun, and I guess I Showed Her.  However, if you haven't seen the Robert Cray Band live, then you have only gotten a fraction of the power, intensity, pure soul, and musical magic the man and his band can deliver.  As tight a band as you'll ever hear, all parts were perfect.  My impression was that every micro-moment of the show was notable.  If there had to be a moment that pushed the sold-out crowd over the top of their already dizzying whelm, then it would have been when the hail storm rolled in with its lightning in tow and a misty whirl of rain.  The new light show at George's Garden made the rain glisten like a billion jewels falling on the crowd.  They stood in religious mass as the storm seemed to become part of Robert's act...lifting his intensity to unreachable heights.  It was a perfect storm for a perfect show.  Oreo Blue always feels honored to open for acts such as this and it was also an honor for Robert Cray to acknowledge us as his set began.  His crew was top notch and extremely gracious.  This is one show that epitomizes the quality that has come with Brian's renovation of George's Majestic.  Look for much more to come...

photo by Rick Weldon

April 23-24th--Vietnam Veterans Biker Rally--Madill, Oklahoma-- (report coming soon)

photo by Rick Weldon

April 19th--Ft. Smith Chamber BAO--Rheem Classic-- Hardscrabble -- Ft. Smith, Arkansas--Thanks, again, to the FS Chamber for having us back to Hardscrabble for their after hours social to kick off the Nationwide Tour-Rheem Classic.  The rain dampened the golf tournament, but the dry souls inside chowed down on some tasty fixins from Golden Corral and danced the night away to Oreo Blue.  Our great buddy, Chuck Fawcett, once again showed the revelers how to party.

photo by Rick Weldon

April 16th--Eskimo Joe's--Stillwater, Oklahoma--This storied landmark has its trademark plastered on t-shirts that can be seen traversing every nook on the planet.  Nestled just down the block from Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, the "Jumpin' Little Juke Joint" was certainly jumpin to the transient crowds of tourists during the lunch and dinner hours.  The food was excellent and the town was aflush with sweet grandeur.  The music scene at EJ's was a bit tart, though as the dinner crowds rushed off soon after dark.  Thanks to a small group of Vietnamese students, the band rocked the foyer and blew off the front doors with our brethren from the Far East oohing and ahhing to every twist and turn.

photo by Rick Weldon

April 15th--Classic Rock Cafe--Oklahoma City, Oklahoma--Classic Rock conjures up a notion of loud, pile-driving music in big auditoriums.  The Classic Rock Cafe has taken a pile-driving PA system and crammed it into a smallish venue.  In other words, the sound stage rocks at the CRC.  The food is excellent, too.  Great burgers and fries.  We had a local band, Red Bud Revival, open the show for us and they are quite salty.  Keep an ear open for them coming out of OKC.

 

photo by Rick Weldon

 

April 2-3rd--University of Arkansas-Fort Smith Spring Jazz Band Concert--Fort Smith, Arkansas--At 51, Gary is what you might call a "non-traditional student" at UAFS enrolled in the Jazz Lab course under the direction of Don Bailey.  Gary has been doing this for the last few semesters in order to improve his knowledge and chops (if that is at all possible).  Brian is a former member of the UAFS Jazz Band.  For this year's spring concert, Don invited Oreo Blue to come perform as special guests.  He charted out a big band arrangement for two of our original songs:  Love My Baby and Granted.  In addition, we would perform two others on our own.  I must say, being an alum of the UA-Fayetteville Jazz Band myself, I was a bit nervous going into this arrangement.  You see, the UAFS Jazz Band (formerly WestArk) had always had a reputation for being so much better than the Fayetteville campus band.  And so much more hip having previously invited Louis Bellson, Dizzy Gillespie, Ed Shaugnessey, and other Jazz greats to perform with them.  With so much history and so much hype, Don Bailey and the band made us feel like we were up there with the stars.  We were supplied with our own private dressing room complete with blue Oreo's, snacks-a-plenty, and our names in stars posted on our dressing room door..  The UAFS band lived up to its hype with screaming renditions of Malaguena, Stars and Stripes, and others.  In the second half of the concert, we took the stage with the band to perform and it felt like old-home week for Brian, like a proud moment for Gary, and for me...it was like going back in time and getting to play in that school band that everyone talked about.  We certainly appreciate Don and the UAFS Band for letting us be a part of your spring concert.  And for making us feel like stars...

 

March 26th--The Flying Saucer--Memphis, Tennessee--Memphis can be a really hip town.  When I get off the bridge and head down Riverside on my way to Beale, I get that same feeling every time.  The soul and history of this town speaks to you.  I realize it is probably myth-based, but it is enough to make you feel like you are in the epicenter of something.  W.C. Handy, Elvis, Sun Studios, Bobby Bland, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, BB King, the MGs, the Memphis Horns, Stax, MLK Jr., Albert King, Howlin Wolf, Rufus Thomas, and so much more.  The Flying Saucer is not really at the heart of all this history, but it is just caddy-corner to it all.  The wait staff at the FS are top-bill.  The band performed strong and wowed the many onlookers both in the club and passers-by of the open air windows.  A few comments of "best band we have ever seen here" were tossed about.  I think the venue was a bit peculiar, but the Memphians and tourists know the deal...

 

March 20th--Neosho Powersports Grand Re-Opening--Neosho, Missouri--If you need any sort of power sports equipment:  motorcycles, seados, parts, accessories, customization, then you need to go see these folks.  They are cool and treat their customers great.  It's not often that we get to perform inside a motorcycle shop, but it always proves to be a great time.

 

March 18th--FREE BEER at Georges Majestic Lounge-- Fayetteville, Arkansas--At least once a year, Brian has a delight in calling up his old boss, Jed Clampit, and having a party-like jam along with Jed's brother Bil [sic], and band mate Gary Hutchison.  I was fortunate to be called along to play drums for this all-star lineup and boy was it fun.  Jed has a way of lighting up the room with his self-proclaimed "Arkansas State Musician" status and back-porch, home-grown, feel-good music.  2004 has been a great year thus far for performing with others.  If it is any indication, the year will plow on with more great performances to come...If I were ya'll, I would follow the OB members around, because each show will be tremendous...

 

March 13th--The ByPass--Joplin, Missouri--Spring is not without its rains.  It was a dreary day in Joplin.  But after last nights' triumphant return, our spirits could not dare be dampened.  Joplin, as Gary reports, has always been a great town for live music.  Oreo Blue has been performing in Joplin for over 10 years and has consistently packed the house.  Not that we expected anything different, but after how hard we worked last night, we felt as if we deserved a good crowd to help lift us over the aches and pains.  Joplin didn't disappoint.  The crowd was great even if it hesitated at first.  Brian flip-flopped some guaranteed crowd-pleasers and we proceeded to drive the revelers not only out of their seats, but right through the roof!  Some of them have yet to come down.  The band was tight again tonight and Brian had the PA slammin' out front.  I have often said that within Oreo Blue, we are our own biggest fans.  We each appreciate each other more than any fan could ever appreciate us from afar.  That is what truly makes this band so great and has certainly contributed to almost 14 years of longevity.  

Tonight we had many friends and family in the crowd as well as some familiar faces that we enjoy seeing on occasion.  Included was Debra Bingham who has admired the band for years.  She is a budding guitarist and singer.  Gary invited her to hop up on stage to perform one of her original songs.  She was overtly nervous.  I don't blame her.  I would be intimidated, too, stepping on stage with this band.  She did well, though.  And we appreciate her spirit and support.

 

March 12th--The Kitchen Pass--Parsons, Kansas--Spring is nigh and there are signals in the air that all begins anew with this season.  As you have noticed, the band has been on hiatus for nearly a month.  There was heightened tension among us that we might not have the stamina to perform to our standard of high-energy, high-intensity music.  As you have read in the past, our club sets can last up to 5 hours with only one short 15 minute break in the middle.  It's a workout.  I have often said that I would weigh 300 lbs if I didn't play drums with Oreo Blue...  So, the pressure was on.  

What transpired, though, was quite the opposite of what might have been expected.  The band was cooking as hot as ever to the packed house of Kansas revelers.  Not that we didn't feel the pain afterward.  Musically, however, the layoff was a benefit.  I think it heightened our senses to what we had been missing over the last month.  Yes, we each have some side projects that allow us to perform on our instruments in the meantime, but it's not like performing as Oreo Blue.  Also, as you have read before in this newsletter, the whole of Oreo Blue is greater than the sum of its parts.  It's a chemistry, if you will, that feeds on its own ingredients to produce what cannot be generated if an ingredient is substituted.  Each knowing what the other requires to produce the desired reaction from the crowd or from within.  It's truly awesome.  Every soul in the house was denied anything but a positive reaction.  Including us musicians.  So as if we begin a new in this Spring season with something fresh built out of something overworked.  When the work is taken for granted and then realized how sorely it is missed.  Spring shows us all that what once was old can be new again.

 

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