This year has been an incredible year of live music for me. I’ve seen over 60 artists this year and attended shows in a variety of venues, from the historic Cain’s Ballroom to the small dive bar known as The Mercury Lounge. Every show has had it’s high points, but there are five shows/artists in particular that have been my favorite for the year.
- Most anticipated show:
I’ve been lucky enough to see Tyler Childers twice this year and oh what a year it’s been for him. His two shows in Oklahoma were sold out almost immediately and I had been waiting for his Cain’s show since June. The show did not disappoint. Having seen Tyler and his band, The Food Stamps last in April, I was impressed with how much tighter their sound was and how much better Tyler’s crowd banter was this time around. Playing for around 90 minutes, it was a solid 90 minutes of stellar songwriting and musicianship from every member of the band. Having Sturgill Simpson’s regular drummer, Miles Miller, join The Food Stamps as a second drummer was an added bonus, as it was mesmerizing to watch both Miles and regular drummer, Rod Elkins in sync throughout songs. Another great highlight of the show was opener, Town Mountain, a bluegrass group that’s full of talent and helps elevate bluegrass beyond it’s traditional sound.
- Most energetic show:
I dare you to find someone else in this genre more energetic than Charley Crockett. Having seen him three times in 2018, I never come away from one of his shows disappointed. The man has showmanship down to a science. Backed by The Blue Drifters, I once watched an epic two hour Charley Crockett set at a dive bar in town and was completely blown away. After putting out a second album this year in December, Charley has even more material to draw from to boogie, sing and wow the crowds with.
- Best Small Venue Show:
Despite its small size and questionable taxidermy that decorates the walls, the Mercury Lounge in Tulsa books some amazing acts. Having Jamie Lin Wilson in the day after the release of her newest album, Jumping Over Rocks, was one of their best decisions of the year. The intimacy of the venue, coupled with Jamie’s talent and storytelling, along with a superb backing band made this particular show one of my very favorites of the year. If you’re going to see a show at a small venue, you better hope it’s a place like the Mercury Lounge.
- Most Surprising Show:
I always love going into a show with zero expectations and coming out completely dazzled by what I witnessed. The recent Gill Landry and Nicki Bluhm show at the Vanguard Tulsa, was that show for me this year. The sheer talent that both these singer-songwriters have is something everyone should witness for themselves. I said it in my original review of the show, but I rarely come away with music from both artists at shows and at this particular show, I raced over to the merch table to buy each of their newest albums. Nicki’s voice is not to be missed and Gill’s songwriting and baritone voice are equally as pleasing.
- Best all around show
Interestingly enough my favorite show of the year also happens to be the first show I saw in 2018. Margo Price at Diamond Ballroom in OKC was the absolute best show of the year. Even though the show was light in attendance, it didn’t matter to Margo. She gave a stellar performance no matter if the show was sold out or not. Watching her sing, play guitar, play keyboard and rock out on the drums was awe inspiring. Her songwriting is top notch and her band is always amazing. I absolutely love seeing Margo Price live and I cannot wait for the chance to see her again.