Blackwatch Studios' engineers adjust the mix of Norman's music scene, blending bands and blurring lines for a monthly concert series 

Blackwatch Presents
The Burning Hotels, The Pretty Black Chains and The Boom Bang
9:30 p.m. Friday
The Deli
309 White, Norman

Those who have borne witness to the Norman Music Festival know that the artistic community in Norman " fans and musicians alike " is a force to be reckoned with, although it's a scene full of venues often divided by genre lines.

As a result of the community response to the festival, a few intuitive locals sensed the need for a blurring of those lines, and the result is a lengthy partnership between Campus Corner's anchor venue, The Deli, and the engineers of Blackwatch Studios.

"In my mind, our stage at Norman Music Festival this spring was unofficially the first 'Blackwatch Presents,'" said Blackwatch engineer Jarod Evans. "We had been eager to get more directly involved with the local music community outside of the studio, and after the success we had with NMF3, we were eager to follow up with more events. Just days after the festival, Mike (Byers) and Lori (Treisa) from The Deli approached us about doing a once-a-month night at The Deli."

It was important to Evans that the "Blackwatch Presents" series set itself apart from other shows at The Deli, as the venue hosts live music nearly every night, with a concentration on red-dirt, country and lesser-known local and touring rock acts.

"As soon as we committed to do these shows, we knew that we wanted to find a way to make this night feel like an event and not just any other show. We're very proud of all of our friends that do music around here. Exposing the best local artists " popular or undiscovered " is definitely first priority. Second, there's free beer," he said, but only for the first 50 people.

Sound and suds aside, the dive charm of The Deli takes on a new attitude during "Blackwatch Presents" shows as well.

"I bought an old, red velvet curtain on eBay to hang up behind the stage for each performance," Evans said. "The Deli has amazing artwork painted on the wall behind the stage as it is; we just thought a fresh, classic backdrop onstage would give the night a certain subliminal identity. It's kind of funny, but we like it."
The series has been popular thus far, with well-attended shows headlined by local pop star Jacob Abello and Tulsa shoegazers Native Lights. Friday's show is headlined by Dallas-area buzz band The Burning Hotels, with locals The Pretty Black Chains and The Boom Bang rounding out the lineup.

"We have a long list of artists that we want to feature," Evans said. "We just look for lineups that complement each other and let the bands do the rest. Hopefully, the artists that are a part of 'Blackwatch Presents' get a good sense of community and gain exposure from the process."

With two successful shows under their belt and a promising third on the way, Evans is hopeful about the future of 'Blackwatch Presents' and its ramifications on Norman's music community. Never been to The Deli or heard of Blackwatch's artists? Take heart: These shows are for you, too.

"'Blackwatch Presents' is focused on making local artists and fans feel like they're part of a progressive scene that can collectively accomplish big and exciting things," Evans said. "We don't exclusively feature artists that have recorded at Blackwatch Studios. We will have plenty of Blackwatch bands on future bills, but we're certainly eager to work any number of local artists, no matter where they record their records or who they're affiliated with."

For now, the series is booked at The Deli through October, and Evans said Blackwatch plans to continue if the venue agrees.

"It takes a lot of time, work and money to put on any show, and these guys do it 365 days a year," Evans said. "I know that Mike and Lori are working very hard to diversify and expand the collective of artists around The Deli and are thinking forward in terms of how to make the scene there feel as fresh as possible. Those are the kind of people I want to work with." "Becky Carman

top photo The Burning Hotels
bottom photo The Boom Bang

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