Tulsa: June 2009 Archives

We attended Tuesday night's free Starlight Concert at the River West Festival Park to hear a concert by the U. S. Air Force Band of the West, performing alongside the Air National Guard Band of the Gulf Coast. It was well-attended and well worth the time to go.

I think it must have been about 1970 when I first attended one of these concerts. They've been going for 63 years. Back then, they were held in Skelly Stadium, with a bandstand built over the lower west side stands and concert-goers sitting in the upper deck (which no longer exists). The programs were staffed by local union musicians -- I suspect it was a way to keep them busy during the slow season -- and featured light classical pops, big band hits, standards, Sousa marches, selections from Broadway musicals and movie sound tracks, and even a few recent pop tunes. It was a pleasant thing to watch the stars come out, to feel the air cool off, and to hear melodies floating on the breeze.

Back to 2009: For some reason the amphitheater wasn't used, so the crowd spread out on the goose-poop-covered festival ground to the south. (We forgot chairs, but had some beach towels in the van.) The lack of a proper bandshell made it hard to hear the music too far from the tent-covered concrete pad that served as a stage. But we found a place to the side, behind the percussion section, that allowed us to hear the whole band and to watch the percussionists work the chimes, bells, gongs, and drums.

We all enjoyed the concert. It began, as you might expect, with the National Anthem (the audience was invited to sing along). One of the highlights was a medley of themes from spy and detective movies and TV shows, including the James Bond films, the Pink Panther movies, Get Smart, Dragnet, and a few specific Bond movies (e.g. Goldfinger, Live and Let Die).

There were three featured vocalists, including Air National Guard Staff Sgt. Lane McCray, Jr. He sang "A Foggy Day in London Town" and Michael W. Smith's "There She Stands." The MC informed us that McCray was an international recording star, selling over 10 million records. You've probably never heard of him -- I hadn't -- but that just illustrates the disconnect between the American and European music scene. McCray had been on active duty in the Air Force and stationed in Germany, but left to pursue a career in music. McCray began singing as part of a "Eurodance" duo called La Bouche. Their first album shipped double platinum. According to the official website, "La Bouche sind Erotik und hei├če Preformance mit Ohrwurmcharakter." (I don't know what that means, but I love German compound nouns.)

The concert ended with a medley of the official songs of the five branches of the Armed Forces, winding up as the band took to their feet to sing and play "Off We Go into the Wild Blue Yonder" (MP3 link). I was disappointed not to see "Stars and Stripes Forever" on the program, but they played it as an encore as the crowd clapped to the beat.

The Band of the West / ANG Band of the Gulf Coast goes on to Weatherford, Texas, for a Thursday night appearance, the final date of their week-long tour through Oklahoma and north Texas.

There are three more Starlight Concerts this summer, with the Starlight Concert Band under the direction of Dale Barnett, formerly the championship-winning band director at Union and Catoosa High Schools. Barnett has been directing the band for six years, but he started with the band as a trombonist and euphonium player in 1971. Each concert has a different theme:

July 7 - A Tribute To Super Heroes
July 14 - Movie Night
July 21 - Swingin' Under the Stars & Silent Auction

Each concert begins at 8. Tonight's show ended about 9:45. There are concession booths, but you can also bring your own refreshments.

The Starlight Concert Band will also play a concert in Kiefer this Friday night, July 3, at 8 pm in the municipal park.

It's a great (and free) Tulsa tradition. Bring the family, bring a picnic, and enjoy beautiful music under the stars.

A browser crash took out a bunch of edits to a post about my recent trip to southern California, and I'm in no mood to recreate all that now.

So crack open a Mulo and visit Irritated Tulsan and his collection of vintage ads from summers past, including one for the Kip's Big Boy at 11th and Trenton. He's got some pretty neon photos, too, and he wants your favorite memories of Bell's Amusement Park.

Modern Tulsa has a photographic recap of the "Living in Hi-Fi Tour" of Lortondale's mid-century modern homes.

Holly Wall has a guest post up at Tasha Does Tulsa reporting on Thirsty Thursday at Drillers Stadium.

A fascinating new blog, Tulsa Gal, focuses on Tulsa history. Nancy is a researcher and volunteer for the Tulsa Historical Society.

Finally, make your blood boil with the Infrastructurist's then-and-now photos of beautiful train stations that met the wrecking ball.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Tulsa category from June 2009.

Tulsa: May 2009 is the previous archive.

Tulsa: July 2009 is the next archive.

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