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Cain's Ballroom - The CBGB of The Midwest.

Is the “Next Austin” in Oklahoma?

At the risk of cheap rent increasing and a Pinkberry being on every corner, I’m going to go ahead and say it — one of Oklahoma’s two main towns (Oklahoma City and Tulsa) is going to be the next Austin.

Granted, I don’t have all the fancy numbers to back this claim up, but fancy numbers are not what Okies are all about. They’re good folks who love their live music, and anyone who begs to differ should spend an evening catching a show at Tulsa’s iconic Cain’s Ballroom.

So which is it?

Well, I’d say three things:

1. People. As I mentioned, Okies are hungry for entertainment. Years of hearing you all call us a drive-thru state and immediately launching into the song — with more than enough emphasis on the OOOOOOO, thank you — has worn us thin (and we hate anything thin), and has created a monster when it comes to grasping at ways to entertain ourselves. Think I’m lying? Ask Seattle. They’re still sore over us stealing their NBA team. And doing better with it than they did.

2. Location. New York, Louisiana, Chicago, Austin, Los Angeles. We’re in the middle of it all. Gas is expensive these days. Everybody wins.

3. Vision. We actually produce serious visionaries, something we don’t get enough credit for. ”This is the home of everyone from legends like Woody Guthrie and Leon Russell,” says Oklahoma City’s Okie Dope Records co-founder Rob Vera, “to critical favorites like The Flaming Lips and Chainsaw Kittens.”

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Me and Tyson Meade, lead singer of the Chainsaw Kittens.

Speaking of the Kittens, I met frontman Tyson Meade for a coffee to discuss this very thing. “OKC (Oklahoma City) has such a brilliant assortment of freaks and drag queens and drop-outs and drop-ins and dreamers” says Meade, who then goes on to back up my initial claims: “you’re right, it’s Third-World cheap to live there and easy easy easy to fly anywhere from there.”

So there you go. Clean (kinda) and clear (sorta) evidence proving that one of these two cities — in the next five years — will be the new live-music mecca.

Now, we just need to fix that whole weakest beer in the country problem and we’ll be all set.

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