Three volumes in and A Blackwatch Christmasyet again nabs a spot on the nice list, showcasing a smattering of Oklahoma artists with charming new holiday standards. This year shakes up the status quo with two themed halves — serving up dusty, countrified Christmas ditties on the Holly-Tonk side and soulful hip-hop carols with Jingle Beats, both with joyful returns.
It has been a relatively rocky road for Weatherford alt-country outfit Green Corn Revival, which has seen its share of highs (acting as backing band for rockabilly icon Wanda Jackson) and lows before an (amicable) split in the road led half of the original lineup to forming Honeylark.
Oklahoma is quickly becoming the indie Christmas music capital of the world, it seems, with yearly compilation albums featuring everyone from Stardeath and White Dwarfs to Graham Colton. So it makes sense that Colourmusic — freak-poppers hailing from Stillwater — would craft a full album of original, offbeat holiday tunes themselves.
The Oklahoma City metro has a thriving garage rock scene. With seasoned acts like Broncho and Copperheads carrying the modern-day torch, the way has been paved for a flock of gritty, young, guitar-centric acts. But nascent Norman trio Poolboy has a knack for riotous hooks that few of its contemporaries can boast.
Red Dirt artist Brandon Jenkins grew up knowing music would be how he made his unique stamp on the world.
Even still, his family encouraged the Tulsa native to attend college. Somewhat reluctantly, he enrolled at Oklahoma State University.
“It turned out to be a pretty good choice,” Jenkins said. “I found a pretty good group there.”
That group included Cody Canada, Mike McClure, Stoney LaRue and Bleu Edmondson. In the mid-’90s, the collective helped make Red Dirt music what it is. The old friends still work together, even after hitting it big.
“We are all comrades,” Jenkins said. “We have our own individual units, but as a whole, we are a team.”
Of LaRue, he said, “We’re pretty much best friends. That’s probably the reason I’ve written so many songs with him. Trying to write a song with another person is kind of like masturbating in front of someone: It’s really tough to do. You’ve got to feel really comfortable with somebody.”
Jenkins might be the most unique piece in the set, certainly with the least stereotypical country facade.
“I’m a big guy with a shaved head, ZZ Top beard and sleeved-out tattoos, but I think it suits the music,” he said. “We are more than country, anyway.”
That appetite for individuality translates to how his music is released. Rather than releasing his latest and 11th album, “Project Eleven,” upfront, he began doling out the 11-song effort on Nov. 11, 2011. The last song and a physical release will be unveiled on Sept. 11, the 11th anniversary of 9/11.
“Music business is changing, and it’s adapt or die,” Jenkins said. “You can’t hang on to this paradigm that doesn’t exist anymore. Lots of artists are abandoning the traditional format of albums. People aren’t really buying CDs. This sounded like a good idea.”
Artistically, it also continues his path toward doing something special.
“I could keep putting out the same record over and over again, but at my heart, I want to consider myself an artist,” he said. “To me, that means always being in a state of becoming something.”
Editor's note: This summer, Jenkins, Stoney LaRue, and a handful of other Red Dirt musicians will be flying to Alaska for a series of concerts benefiting the organization Autism Speaks. Head to LaRue's website for more information.