Friday, February 26, 2010

Live Scene, Seen Live: That 1 Guy

Lest anyone think I only consider Oklahoma City the only happening place in the 405, I'm going to write about some of the exciting live music I recently witnessed in that booming college town, Norman.

I spent the evening of February 4th at The Deli, one of the best bars and live music venues on Campus Corner. The older I get, the more appreciation I lose for bars packed with 20-somethings, but The Deli is a horse of a different color. Although it's not a large bar and therefore is usually standing room only when there's live music, the intimate size of the space lends to the ambiance and experience of the performance.

My friend, Shawn, who's quickly becoming my music guru, introduced me to the music of That 1 Guy. Thanks! Listening to his music and watching clips on youtube are great and leaves one with the overall impression that this guy, That 1 Guy, is ultra talented and ultra quirky. But, seeing him live? Unbelievable!

He's most often called a one-man band, but after seeing him perform, that moniker is simply inadequate. He's absolutely a genius and I won't hide the fact that I left the Deli with serious thoughts of hitting the road to become a groupie. Beyond his obvious talents as a classically trained musician is The Magic Pipe. It's hard to explain the Magic Pipe, but a quick internet search yields the details of what it is and how it came to be. I'm not going to bog this blog down with the details, but the mere fact that he thought of and built this instrument really blows my mind.

I recruited a couple of my gal pals who had never heard of That 1 Guy to experience the show with me. We arrived early and planted ourselves at the front so we would have some of the best seats in the house. As we drank our beer and waited for the show to begin, we had plenty of time to look at the Magic Pipe. There's no way to explain to those who've never heard his music just what is about to happen and part of my excitement that evening was watching the amazement wash over my friends as he began to play.

In addition to the Magic Pipe, he also plays the Magic Saw and the Magic Boot. I lost count of how many times throughout his performance I turned to my friends in wonder and said, "Who would think of amplifying and playing a boot?!?" [look closely under his left arm and you'll see the Magic Boot.]
Not wanting to keep track of a camera, I used my phone to document the evening (and truth be told, my phone has an awesome camera) In addition to over 250 photos, I took a bit of video as well, but it's all raw and unedited and probably won't effectively convey the awesomeness of That 1 Guy, but I'm going to upload it anyway.

Clip #1: A good overview of several techniques That 1 Guy uses on the Magic Pipe [please pardon the sound's bad in some parts but still worth watching!]

Clip #2: The Magic Saw- Somewhere Over the Rainbow.

Throughout the 45 minute show, he rarely stops moving and I'm sure it's what keeps him in shape. He interacts with his audience and several times thanked us for supporting live music. It's evident he loves what he's doing and it just adds to the overall experience when you see it on his face.
If That 1 Guy is playing anywhere near where you live, you must, must, must catch his show. You won't be disappointed I can assure you. Check out his website to see where he's currently playing. I hope he comes back to the 405 soon!

As That 1 Guy says, "Two hats are better than one!"

Monday, February 1, 2010

Building Blocks, Lasting Beauty: Bungalow Style

One of the things I love most about living in the 405 is the interesting mix of architectural style. From the new construction in the Deep Deuce area to the remodeled buildings in the Midtown Renaissance to the beautifully maintained original structures, there's always something interesting to see.

Personally, my favorite type of residential architecture is the bungalow, so I'm going to share some of my favorites around town. I won't try to give any technical explanations about the evolution of the bungalow style or what the bungalow style encompasses but rather, I'll give my brief layman's description of my favorite type of bungalow.

The bungalow was popularized in the United States during the Arts and Crafts period. The long and low lines of the house combined with the gabled roof and dormer windows create such beauty. Most times there is a full porch stretching across the entire front of the house. Usually, they Arts and Craft bungalow (sometimes called the Craftsman bungalow) is one story, but there are many one and a half story bungalows called "airplane" bungalows; named for the "cockpit" type appearance of the smaller, upper level.

The internet contains an abundance of information on the evolution of and different types of bungalows but for now, I offer these lovely examples of classic, bungalow style.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

On the Horizon: Good Things to Come

In my first post, I gave a brief summary of what I wanted to write about in this blog. Since then, things have started to progress quickly. In addition to my posts, I’ll be inviting a few of my friends to contribute as guest bloggers. Look for restaurant and food reviews (Good Eats, Good Seats), Oklahoma authors/book showcase (Be Seen Reading This!), star sightings (Is That Who I Think It Is?!?), local business showcase/made in Oklahoma (name to be determined), plus posts on any and all happenings in the 405! Good things are on the horizon, so stay tuned!

I’m still accepting requests on events, restaurants, places to write about. Just let me know and we’ll see what happens.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Faux Bohemia: A Night at the Red Cup

There are 2 things I love: free wifi and coffee......and I love them even more when they're found in one place!

Having said that, there are several places in the 405 where one can go to enjoy this combination. Where one chooses to go depends on what kind of experience one wants to have. If you're not interested in the quality of the coffee and are looking for unlimited refills and an inexpensive meal (not great food, but it won't kill you) you can go to IHOP. For a bottomless cup of coffee and decent food you can go to Panera. For a bottomless cup of coffee, good food and terrible service (at least it has been the last few times I've gone) you can go to Will's. For overpriced coffee and pastries you can go to Starbuck's

But......for a cup of coffee for $1.40 per cup, overpriced "cutesy" food and a collection of angsty, artsy bohemian types you can go to the Red Cup. I met my friend Amy at the Red Cup after work last night (Friday) and our time there inspired this blog.

I don't really have anything against the Red Cup personally, but I just hate going there. Mostly it's the starving-artist-bohemian-hippy types that really make me dislike going here. Every generation since the original "summer of love" has had it's own group of these hygiene deficient youths hanging out, drinking coffee and writing (poetry, a novel, music). While they think they are being an "individual", they are oblivious to the fact that what they are doing is totally unoriginal. It drives me insane!!

And....on a side note: I'll admit I don't like having to pay full price for each cup of coffee, but I understand their reasoning stems from those who would come in and purchase one cup of coffee and stay for hours using the wifi. However, those customers just end up only drinking one cup of joe and staying all day anyway. I'm just sayin'........

Last night it was relatively quiet when we arrived and we chose to sit along the wall on a deceptively comfortable yellow, leather couch. Amy and I sat and visited for about an hour before even pulling out our laptops......during that time the staff started rearranging the furniture for the live music. The barrista stopped and asked if he could move the coffee table we were using and I said, "Only if the music is fantastic." I shouldn't have said it.

[This is Amy posing in front of the painting which was hung behind our couch]

As the start time for the live music approached, a crowd began to gather. I was hopeful it meant the music would be enjoyable....even in such a small space. Since I like to watch people, I began to notice a few things. The number of floor length skirts was amazing. There were lots of tie-dyed articles of clothing and the smell of patchouli was in the air. Everyone seemed to know the musician, so I surmised they were friends coming to support him (very nice, indeed and probably gained them some good karma). One guy had extremely long dreads dangling out from under a grungy stocking cap (hand knitted by his tie-dye clad girlfriend, I'm sure).......and the entire time he was there, he kept taking his index finger and digging down through the dreads to scratch at his scalp. (I have news for you buddy......your head was itching because it's dirty!) But.....I digress.

As the crowd grew larger and spilled from the adjacent "room" to the standing room in front of our couch, I noticed a few exasperated looks being thrown our way. By this time, Amy and I were both on our second cup of full priced coffee and had almost finished our hummus (served with a toasted sub loaf as the bread, I might add). We had pulled out our laptops and were doing a bit of light surfing and were content in the fact we couldn't see the singer from our seats, so his friends wouldn't have wanted to sit there anyway.

Of the roughly 40 people who crammed in to hear the music, I'd say maybe 6 or 7 ordered something.......the rest just took up the chairs and tables without spending a dime. [did I mention at this point in the evening, Amy and I had spent $5.20 just on coffee?] And then.....the music started.

To say he was "okay" would be lying. His "original" songs consisted of the chords he knew best being repeated over and over and over and over and over...........most of the songs seemed as if they were instrumentals, but in reality, they were just songs with the longest intros known to man. And then, when he sang........well, I almost have no words to describe it....almost! To be kind, his voice was horrible. Although he was playing a tuned guitar, he couldn't find the key to save his life. He sang about 6 original songs and then began a long monologue to introduce his last song of the evening (praise Jesus!). I can't remember the name of the song, but he took 5 minutes to explain to everyone the reason he was doing a "cover" was because it was his favorite song by his favorite band and he would never be able to do it justice (see......I just gave the same info he did in 15 seconds. It's not difficult). I was hopeful it would be the best song of the night since he had someones example to follow.......but oh! I was wrong. I pulled out my phone and recorded what I could see and hear from my perch on the couch. I didn't edit the recordings at all and I know it's not the best quality, but I really wanted to share it.

This clip is the only instrumental song he played, but it's a good example of the repetitive nature of his writing style.

This second clip is a short clip to showcase his singing "ability"

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Good Eats, Great Seats: Iron Starr Urban Bar-B-Q

Instead of sharing all my favorite local restaurants in a "Top 10" type blog, I'm going to feature one a week. The 405 is home to many great local eateries which not only provide some great grub, but also feature some of the most eclectic and trendy spaces in which to enjoy a fantastic meal.

Iron Starr Bar-B-Q:
3700 N Shartel
Oklahoma City, OK 73118

I won't lie. The reason I first ate here is because this restaurant incorporates two of my favorite things: stars and BBQ. I won't go into any of the scuttlebutt surrounding the emergence of this restaurant in the 405, but I was willing to give it a chance long before many of my friends. Although my reasons for originally giving it a chance were somewhat shallow, those quickly gave way to long-lasting love for an establishment with an interesting and constant menu full of wonderful food choices. After one meal at Iron Starr, I began a campaign amongst my friends to convince those grudge-holding hold outs to give this restaurant a chance and let the food speak for itself.

While I haven't tried everything on their menu, I've seriously never ordered anything which wasn't scrumptious. You can check out their menu HERE. I can, in confidence, recommend anything on the menu, but there are a few things I feel everyone must try at least once......and then I dare you not to order them over and over again.

Must Eats:

Bacon wrapped Quail Breast
Beef Tenderloin Wedge Salad
Slow Smoked St Louis Ribs
Mac n Cheese (from scratch)
Southwest Slaw (love, love, LOVE jicima!)
Dutch Oven Potatoes (made with sweet potatoes.....I dream of them often)
Chopped Brisket sandwich (topped with slaw)
Banana Pudding (from scratch)
Chocolate Bread Pudding (the sauce has Grand Marinier in it......yum)

If you haven't eaten at Iron Starr, you must! With the additional seating added 2 years ago, there's less waiting on the weekends, but for larger groups you should call ahead and make a reservation. I haven't eaten at their new location in Norman, but I'm sure the food is great there, too.

A Happening Place!

I've been living in the 405 for almost a decade now and if there's one thing I've learned, anything is possible!

Whether it's great food, interesting architecture, bizarre weather or possible start sightings, you'll read about it here. There's never a dull moment and there's no place I'd rather live.

If you live in the 405 and there's something you think I should write about, leave me a comment and I'll do my best.