Yes, I know it’s been a minute since I’ve posted here, especially anything in the music category. But after seeing all the end of year list of best albums and best songs, I decided to go a different direction and list the best concerts I attended (and didn’t attend) in 2015.
My taste is not your taste, so deal with it. But this is what I saw and loved in the past 12 months.
- Dawes at ACM@UCO in Bricktown – I have to admit, I knew just a little about this group. Thought they were some sort of hipster/slacker band and they weren’t in my streaming rotation. Then, on my way back from Kansas City (I think), I heard an interview with Dawes front man Taylor Goldsmith on Sirius XM, which I was only listening to because it came with my wife’s new ride. And the songs they played along with the interview sounded more country than shoe gazing. So I filed that away. As fate would have it, I got an e-mail just a few days after that announcing that Dawes would be playing in OKC and for only $20 with John Moreland, a headliner in his own right, opening! Dragging my butt there on a school night and having to stand up all night (not good), I was greeted by a band that was much more energetic than their studio recordings and much more musically talented than I imagined -plus the added bonus of legacy guitarist Duane Betts being added to the band for the tour. Every song was dynamic, Goldsmith was an exquisite showman, and the crowd was in fever pitch all night. Afterward, I declared Dawes the best current American band. And they are.
- Steve Earle and the Dukes – Why he chose this venue to make his first Oklahoma City appearance since 1988 is a mystery to me, but there was no way I would miss it. The Wormy Dog is probably my second least favorite place to see a show, with the Diamond Ballroom ranking below. But I swallowed my pride and plunked down a very reasonable sum for what turned out to be an epic show. His backing band, the Dukes, were as tight as any unit around and Earle wheeled from song to song with very little banter and machine precision. The sweat was pouring from stage and crowd, but no one cared and when the show reached two hours, then two and a half, it looked like Earle was going to outlast his audience. It was well past midnight when he put the finishing touches on the last of eight encore songs, coming from left field with his own interpretation of the Troggs “Wild Thing”. Thirty-three songs after it began, the mesmerizing night of music turned into day with hopes that it wouldn’t be another 27 years before he came to town again.
- Jason Isbell and Sturgill Simpson – Even though I had been a big fan of the Drive By Truckers for some time (more on that later), I hadn’t really latched on to Jason Isbell’s solo efforts until a few months before. And I initially resisted Sturgill Simpson’s status as the next big weird hip thing – until I listened to his second album. And again, finding out that both of these headliners would be on the same stage was mind blowing. I was already mad that I had missed Isbell’s impromptu show at the Bricktown Events Center the previous summer when the Zoo Amp concert with Willie Nelson had been rained out. I refused to pay top dollar for that, since I figure Isbell would only get about 30 minutes as third fiddle on that bill and I wanted to remember Willie the way he was back in his Red Headed Stranger heyday. Very few people bought tickets to that show, and only a handful were lucky enough to get invited downtown for the “free show”, which lasted over two hours. Soooo, when the Winstar show with Isbell and Simpson was announced, no way was I going to miss being in that number this time. I do not enjoy the drive to Winstar and I don’t gamble, so I won’t go there unless it is something really special (or free, as in the case of an Alice In Chains show I attended there a year previously). Also, I don’t want to go unless I am able to get in the VIP seating, which makes it worth the drive. Fortunately, I happen to have some connections down there, and am able to secure said VIP seats, even though this time I had to pay. Seventy-five dollars was worth it. Three hundred dollars would have been worth it. Simpson blistered through a 15 song set that featured his compositions wrapped around some bluegrass and country favorites, featuring his Estonian guitarist Laur Joamets, who has the fastest guitar licks this side of Albert Lee. Simpson mixed in a little T Rex “Bang a Gong” in the finale, which was not lost on me but was a mystery to the majority of the 20-something audience. Then came Isbell, working through his immaculate “Southeastern” album, interspersed with his Drive By Truckers signature song “Decoration Day” and an old Candi Staton tune. There were only a dozen songs, but they were extended and crafted exquisitely, displaying a passion that opened up some of the understated delivery of his recorded work. Isbell displayed his perfect phrasing and surprised with his masterful guitar playing as well. All in all, a diverse show with two different types of front men who are unique in their own way.
With KD in street clothes, Thunder fans got a brief scare that their other superstar might have suffered an injury. But in the end, it was Philadelphia that took the lumps. Read my story on the game
Here is a statement released by Rayo Vellcano on their investment in the Oklahoma City NASL franchise. Looks like the NASL may be in Oklahoma City for the 2016 season.
Rayo Vallecano grows and expands. The historical Vallecas club has become the majority shareholder in the Oklahoma City franchise to be incorporated soon to the NASL (North American Soccer League). The Lightning, after a long period of negotiations that has included numerous trips to the United States, became the first Spanish club to sign an agreement with a soccer franchise,
The Lightning will own most of the team and the rest also will be in the hands of a trusted partner who will work with the entity in the development of a team in a city steeped in years of NBA basketball Oklahoma City, the home of the Thunder , franchise with Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka among others. In Rayo entering the Yankee market with a view to the expansion of the club considered essential.
Lightning plans to make the agreement official shortly and explain the details of the commitment to the franchise in Oklahoma City, the state capitol of Oklahoma, a state in south central United States, the Sooner State.
United States is the new market trying to break the Lightning, who already set foot in China. Qbao reached an agreement with all of Vallecas in July 2014 so that their products were announced on their shirts.
It was announced this week that Brian Bosworth finally got into the College Football Hall of Fame after waiting for two decades. And even in selection, there were complains that Bosworth hadn’t suffered enough for his “transgressions” at OU.
I got a sense that Bosworth felt this would be the year when I spoke to him last fall. He was matter of fact about his prospects saying that he probably didn’t make it last year because other OU players were ahead of him and the college football lords didn’t want it to seem like one team was dominating.
And the ESPN 30 for 30 that ran a few months back was a good indicator that if maybe all hadn’t been forgotten, enough time had passed for most of it to be forgiven.
Just to refresh your memory, here’s my take on Bosworth’s delayed entry and a plea for him to be inducted that was written after last year’s snub
It’s highly unlikely that the 2014 Oklahoma Sooner football will make it to the National Championship Playoff, let along qualify as one of the greatest teams in OU history. But since this is the 40th anniversary of the 1974 national title squad, I thought it would be fun to go back and revisit which teams should be on the top five list of all-time greatest in history.
For the purpose of this discussion, you have to narrow the field and even trying to do that will start a few chat room arguments. First of all, we’ll limit the choices to undefeated teams, and that in itself will start a fight with devotees of the 1985 squad, which won the National Championship, but lost in the regular season to Miami. The key word in this analysis is TEAM and that means performing on a high level for every game of the season. If you want to talk about the most talented squads in history, that may be another story.
We’ll start with the 1949 team, which went 11-0 and posted five shutouts, including a 35-0 rout of LSU in the Sugar Bowl. Despite a dominating year in which they outscored opponents 399-88, OU wound up second in the national polls, behind Notre Dame. Looking back, that snub seems amazing, given the fact that the unblemished season extended OU’s winning string to 21, a string that would be extended to 31 games with a 10-0 regular season in 1950, only to be snapped in the Sugar Bowl by Kentucky. Ironically, the Sooners did win the national title that season, as voting was done prior to the bowls.
The 1949 team featured Darrel Royal at quarterback in the split-T and the introduction of the Oklahoma 5-2 defense that became the standard for all levels of football in years to come. The closest anyone came to the Sooners that season was a six-point decision in the Red River Shootout over Texas. Bud Wilkinson’s squad also took a seven-point win over Orange Bowl bound Santa Clara, but after that, no one came within 20 points of OU. Besides Royal, Leon Heath, George Thomas, Stan West, Wade Walker and Jim Owens were named All-American and Wilkinson was named the National Football Coaches Association Coach of the Year.
Any of Wilkinson’s mid-50s undefeated teams could be included in the comparison, but the 1956 squad makes the list for their sheer dominance over opponents. They blasted their first three challengers 147-0 and went on to post six shutouts in 10 games. Included in the carnage were a 47-0 win over Texas, a 40-0 pasting of a Notre Dame team that would end the record 47 straight win streak the following year, and a season ending 53-0 thumping of Oklahoma A&M.
Mercifully for the rest of the teams in the nation, the Sooners did not play in a bowl game, but were declared National Champions after outscoring the opposition 463-51. Future NFL stars Tommy McDonald and Jerry Tubbs captured the Maxwell and Camp Trophies, as the top offensive and defensive players in the country, and they were joined on the All-American teams by Bill Krisher and Ed Gray.
Likewise, their predecessors in 1955 belong here for extending the streak to 30 games and being the only one of the three teams in the mid-50s to play in a bowl game. Like the team the following year, they allowed less than six points per game. Bo Bolinger and McDonald were All-Americans and the Sooners got revenge on the guy who left OU after one year to make way for Wilkinson, Jim Tatum. Tatum’s Maryland team was proclaimed by some as the ‘greatest team of the era’ but they soon found out who the real boss was.
The 1974 undefeated Associated Press National Championship team can certainly lay claim as being the best in Sooner history. Racking up staggering rushing numbers with Joe Washington leading the way, Barry Switzer’s first national title team was a dominant force that few outside of Oklahoma saw due to probation that banned the Sooners from television broadcasts. Only Texas was able to play OU within a touchdown and three times the offense posted more than 60 points in a game. Eight Sooners made All-American, led by future NFL Hall of Famer Lee Roy Selmon and brother Dewey. Other stars on the team included Washington, Tinker Owens, Rod Shoate, Randy Hughes and Kyle Davis, all of whom would go on to have lengthy NFL careers.
Fast forwarding to 2000, that team takes a slot in the top five for their amazing precision on the march to a national crown. Not regarded as a national contender in the preseason, Bob Stoops second OU team quickly opened eyes in the early season. Like this year’s squad, they were extremely dominant through the first eight games, including a 63-14 destruction of Texas that was similar to last month’s humiliation of the Longhorns. There were close calls at Texas A&M and Oklahoma State, as coaches tried to disguise the shoulder injury to quarterback Josh Heupel, who gamely fought through the pain and another narrow win over Kansas State in the Big 12 Championship game.
The climax to the first OU national title in 15 years was a breathtaking defensive performance in the Orange Bowl in a 13-2 win over Florida State. The Sooners shut down Heisman Trophy winner Chris Weinke and finished with a school-best 13-0 record. Heupel finished as the Heisman runner-up, while winning the Walter Camp trophy and Associated Press Player of the Year honors. Linebacker Rocky Calmus and kick returner J.T. Thatcher also made All-American teams, and bubbling under the radar was future superstar Roy Williams, who should have made the national honors squads.
Now that we have the lineup, it’s time to rank the contenders.
Number Five -2000
There are probably several OU teams that were not included on the list that have an argument to be ranked ahead of Stoops’ title team. But this team deserves a spot on the list for coming out of nowhere to will themselves to the National Championship. Heupel revolutionized OU’s offense and the defense has to rank among the top five all-time as well. It helped that no starters were lost to injury all year, an ingredient vital to almost all national title teams.
Number Four – 1955
The second of three straight national title teams gets this slot for the way they finished the regular season – four straight shutouts while outscoring their opponents 166-0 during that stretch, and for continuing on to a bowl game and knocking off number three Maryland, 20-6. That was something their 1956 counterparts didn’t get to do because of an archaic rule that a school couldn’t go to a bowl in consecutive years. Tell that to all the 6-5 teams of today.
Number Three – 1949
It’s probably a bias against post-World War II football, given the number of older veterans who returned to the collegiate ranks and a bias against the quality of football being played at the time that puts this squad lower on the list. Without television and videotape, it’s hard to compare the players of the time with those of today. This team holds its place in OU history as the one that really cemented OU’s national reputation in the Wilkinson era.
Number Two – 1956
The competition gets tough here. In the middle of college football’s longest winning streak, there can be plenty of support for this team as the best all-time. It’s close, but a nod goes to more modern times over the golden age. I can only hope that Tommy McDonald doesn’t get wind of this.
Number One – 1974
So many stars, so much success. Even though Steve Davis would be number five in talent among quarterbacks on the top teams, he ran the show well on a team with unbelievable ability. Half of the players on this team made All-Big Eight and almost the same number had outstanding pro careers. Even with a 14-0 season, this year’s squad would be hard pressed to topple Little Joe, the Selmons, Tinker Owens and Billy Brooks, Rod Shoate, Randy Hughes and all the great talent from Barry Switzer’s ultimate squad.
Barry Switzer on Brian Bosworth:
“He danced for the media, y’all created The Boz. Brian Bosworth is a great kid. The Boz wasn’t worth shit. Y’all created him and wanted him to dance on stage. He entertained y’all, and it created great press.”
Just a taste of my upcoming story on Brian Bosworth for the Football Preview issue of Sooner Spectator. It will include an update on Bosworth, his life after football, and the surprising place he now lives. On newsstands this summer or you can subscribe here
Another year of announcements for the College Football Hall of Fame has come and gone. And once again, Brian Bosworth has been snubbed.
Whatever you think of The Boz and his acting career, his pro football career, his reported PED use and whatever other careers he has pursued, one fact remains. Brian Bosworth was a helluva college football player.
From 1984-1986, Bosworth amassed 395 tackles, 169 unassisted, 27 for losses. He is the only collegian to ever win the Butkus Award twice, was a two-time consensus All-American and set the school record for tackles in a game with 22 against Miami when they meant something.
But his college career ended in infamy, first getting suspended for the Orange Bowl after testing positive for banned substances and then embarrassing his team and coach by wearing a T-Shirt that said the NCAA stood for National Communists Against Athletes.
And for that, he is snubbed by the college hall in favor of people like Joe Hamilton (Georgia Tech quarterback 1996-99) who I don’t remember at all, John Sciarra (UCLA quarterback 1972-75), Leonard Smith (McNeese State cornerback 1979-82) and Wesley Walls(Ole Miss tight end 1985-88).
Thirty years have passed since Bosworth’s “transgressions”. A pair of foolish incidents involving a 20-year old shouldn’t wipe out a career of excellence. Time to get over it, college football. The Boz-and Brian Bosworth-belong in your hall of fame.