27th annual Charlie Christian International Music Festival kicks off in Oklahoma City on May 29

Charlie Christian

In a recent news release, Anita Arnold, executive director of Black Liberated Arts Center Inc. in Oklahoma City, said, “The 27th annual Charlie Christian International Music Festival promises to be full of nostalgia, great music of many genres, food, arts and crafts and so much more. The event will be spread out in four different venues.”

The festival kicked off at 8:30 a.m.Tuesday, May 29, 2012, at the Oklahoma City Council Chambers at 8:30 a.m. with the Morris McCraven Trio setting a jazzy atmosphere for the festival. Mayor Mick Cornett officially proclaimed this week as Charlie Christian Festival week (May 29 through June 3, 2012). Urban Roots, located in the heart of Deep Deuce featured at 6 p.m. music, the opening of the Deep Deuce Photo Exhibit and a book signing by Anita G. Arnold, author of “Oklahoma City Music: Deep Deuce and Beyond.” 

On Wednesday, May, 30, Douglass High School is the venue for the Frederick A. Douglass High School Band program, which includes a performance by the award-winning Douglass
band, acknowledgement of those who contributed to the band drive to outfit a 100-piece marching band, and a special exhibit of the school’s fine arts department during its hey day from the 1940s through the 1950s. The Oklahoma History Center is the curator of the exhibit that will include a saxophone from the 1940s belonging to Jack Washington, photos of bands, choirs, choruses, sheet music and more. 

Arnold said, “It is time to reclaim our excellence and history. These two exhibits acquaint young and old with a golden period in the African American experience.” The free event is open to the public and opens at 1:00 p.m.

At 6 p.m. Thursday, May 31, there will be jamming across Oklahoma City as musicians and singers sit in with bands at Woody’s Sports Bar and Grill and Urban Roots. Musicians are admitted free and are invited to jam with the house band as their admission to the event. Everybody else pays $5 at the door. The public is invited to come out and check it out.

The outdoor festival on Friday, June 1 and Saturday, June 2 begins at 6 p.m. at the Metro Technology Amphitheater, 1900 Springlake Drive. Reality and the New Era opens the festival on Friday with follow-up artists Equilibrium, Billie Jeane and the Robert Banks Band. Popular group After Five Jazz will headline and close out Friday night’s big fun in the park. This will be the first appearance of the group since the mid-1990s when the group went on to other things. Congo Drummer Tre Balfour of Palmdale, Calif., will join soul mates drummer Walter Taylor, keyboardist David Carter, and guitarist Maurice as they bring back their heart wrenching, top tapping sound that landed them gigs, backing artists such as Lala Hathaway and opening for guitarist George Benson, among others.

On Saturday, June 2, Miss Cooki, noted for her distinct vocals, will open and insure a memorable experience. Spencer Brown and The Dudes follow and set the stage right for Jeremy Jackson and Sultry Sound. The fresh new sounds in this year’s festival flow right into the smooth jazz sounds of Tulsa saxophonist Grady Nichols, who opens for headliner Jeremy Thomas Quartet. Thomas recently returned from touring with David Sanborn. Thomas is, the drummer for two-time Grammy Award nominee and world renowned jazz organist Joey Defrancesco. Thomas will leave on two tours in June and is scheduled for a Jazz Cruise next year. 

Doors open at 5:30 p.m. for both days. Attendees are encouraged to bring blankets, lawn chairs or comfortable seating. No food or beverages will be allowed through the gates.

At 5 p.m. on Sunday, June 3, at Frederick A. Douglass High School Auditorium, the Rev. Dr. A. Cortes Rex will be featured in a gospel show, “A Tribute to James Cleveland.” Rex, who was influenced by Cleveland, the late founder of the Gospel Music Workshops of America, will narrate and sing during the tribute. Rex was born in Wichita, Kan., but grew up in Tulsa. He lives in California, where he as been a resident since graduating from Langston University. Rex has established a reputation with two of his most popular shows that pay homage to James Cleveland and Dr. Martin L. King. 

Tickets are on sale for the show and the outdoor festival at Charlie’s Jazz, Rhythm and Blues Store, Guestroom Records, Hopkins Haircare, Learning Tree Toys and Books and Woody’s Sports Bar & Grill. The Charlie Christian International Music Festival is sponsored by BancFirst, Oklahoma Arts Council, City of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Natural Gas Co., Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co., EMSA, Friends of the Historical Society Archives, and Tinker Federal Credit Union. This is a BLAC Inc. production.

Charlie Christian International Music Festival Band Line Up

Friday, June 1, 2012

6 – 6:45 p.m. Reality and the New Era

7 – 7:45 p.m.  Equilibrium

8 – 8:45 p.m. Billie Jeane

9 – 9:45 p.m.  Robert Banks Band

10 – 11:15 p.m. After Five Jazz

Saturday, June 2, 2012

6 – 6:45 p.m.  Miss Cooki

7 – 7:45 p.m. Spencer Brown and the Dudes

8 – 8:45 p.m. Jeremy Jackson and Sultry Soul

9 – 10 p.m. Grady Nichols Band

10:15 – 11:30 p.m.  Jeremy Thomas Quartet