By Elizabeth Keys
STILLWATER, Okla. —
Oklahoma State University Lambda Chi Alpha members Jason Boland and Brad Rice return to their band's origins Friday night. The two fraternity brothers will perform Red Dirt music at Tumbleweed Dancehall with Roger Ray and Grant Tracy. Their band, Jason Boland & the Stragglers, started in Stillwater.
He said inspirations from the town are woven through a lot of the band's songs.
“I came to OSU like any confused little kid from middle America” he said. “You go to college and figure it out from there.”
The music scene in Stillwater taught him the lessons he needed to know with Bob Childers, Tom Skinner, the Red Dirt Rangers and Great Divide along with . . . “all the hippies and misfits living and playing out at The Farm” in Stillwater. Some at The Farm took their influences all the way back to Woody Guthrie.
“Those of us who came up in Tornado Alley can all trace our lineage back to Woody.” he said.
Boland found a group of Oklahoma natives that were like-minded and they hit the road in 1998 never looking back with nine records and seven studio albums available now on iTunes. The band's newest release Dark & Dirty Mile was co-produced by Shooter Jennings, son of country music artist Waylon Jennings. The title track was a top-five single on the Texas Music Chart in May 2013. One of Boland's favorites is “Lucky I Guess.”
He said sometimes the band is advised to look at trends in country music but "when your music is solely for commercial reasons it's the death of art right there.” Although their writing has evolved, the straight shooting honky-tonk band carries on the long tradition of Oklahoma red dirt music and the dusty-booted troubadours have never lost touch with their roots.
“I’ve always thought it was important to keep one foot in tradition and the other pointed in the direction you want to go,” Boland said. “I didn’t invent the G chord, so I’m standing on the shoulders of the giants that did, and on the shoulders of some great songwriters that have come before me. I’m using an old stencil, but adding my own colors.”
He said the t-shirt sellers love the phrase “red dirt” because it’s so simple.
“But it fits. It was coined by the people making the music – rust in the ground, blood in the dirt,” he said. “It’s real and it’s where I come from – and what I refuse to give up, no matter what.”
In his song, “If I ever get back to Oklahoma,” he talks about nailing his feet to the ground but concert touring will take him to the next dancehall down the road. Still, he hopes to renew some memories while he's in town.
“I may grab a Coney Island when I'm there,” Boland said. “It'll be good to see a good 'ole Stillwater crowd.”
IF YOU GO:
WHAT: Jason Boland & the Stragglers
WHEN: 8 p.m. doors open with concert at 9:30 p.m.
WHERE: Tumbleweed Dancehall and Concert Venue, Lakeview and Country Club Road
TICKETS: Purchase $15 general admission tickets at tumbleweedok.com