around Cain's Ballroom, 423 N. Main, Tulsa
Two-day passes are $15 in advance, $20 door
With a national spotlight shining on the state " thanks to performers like Cake, The Black Crowes and The Roots " and a homegrown love born from tens of thousands of fans and hundreds of local musicians, Dfest was a big thing in Oklahoma's music scene.
Founded in 2002, the two-day concert series became an annual Tulsa event in 2006 and a beloved gathering of locals hungry for big-name headliners and exposure to local and lesser-known out-of-state bands and musicians.
When promoters announced in late May that Dfest would be put on "hiatus" due to the economy and "rising production costs and a decline in lower level corporate sponsorships," collective disappointment was felt and expressed by fans and bands alike.
But www.okkle.com, a multitiered music outfit that handles marketing, booking, licensing and management, rallied the creative class and within days, laid the framework for FreeTulsa!, a concert event organizers and audiences hoped would fill the void. More than 125 bands are slated to play Friday and Saturday on more than a half-dozen stages scattered near Cain's Ballroom, 423 N. Main, in Tulsa.
The chart-topping Dfest draws are gone, and the FreeTulsa! offerings are decidedly less mainstream and significantly local, which is just fine for Jacob Abello.
"When I went to Dfest, it was mostly to see my friends' bands play or to play myself, so in my mind, it really hasn't changed a whole lot," the Norman pop singer/songwriter said. The most fun thing about Dfest was to have the community of all the artists in the same place."
Bo Hallford, bassist for Tulsa trio The Panda Resistance, said the smaller-name stage offerings might prove to be better for everyone attending or involved.
"At first, it was a little frustrating. (Dfest) was one of those things you bank on: having a good crowd," he said, lamenting the loss before adding that FreeTulsa! is shaping up to be "a lot more local, which is really neat, because all the local bands are getting to play on the bigger stages."
Abello performs 8 p.m. Friday; The Panda Resistance plays 7 p.m. Saturday.
FreeTulsa! isn't actually free, however. Two-day passes are $15 in advance, $20 door. For more information, visit www.freetulsa.com. "Joe Wertz
photo Panda Resistance.