Just Strangers call local resort home
Born as much from the hippie side of the realm of green grass and fazed cookies all the way over to the bluegrass waves of Tennessee, Just Strangers are making their own mountain music from their home base of Medicine Park. They call it "wild prairie mountain folk rock." I think they got it right.
They brought their special blend by for this week's edition of "Today's Best Soundemonium ... for now!" with Steve Carr, a.k.a. Steve-O, and yours truly to share their stories of making music and armadillo tacos. You may have had to have been there.
Just Strangers are Sarah Holliday, vocals/guitar/banjo; Zach Holliday, guitar/pedal steel/vocals; Rodney Whaley, vocals/resonator/guitar; and Nolan Marsh, drums. They'll be performing tonight during the Box City event at Cameron University supporting Family Promise of Lawton. They join a lineup that also includes GodsChild Muzic Group and Linz Turberville. Music kicks off around 5:30 p.m.
The group will also close out the Damn the Man Music Festival with an 11 a.m. set Saturday at the Bullpen, 11822 NW McClung Road. They're on the bill with Morgan Jezek, Brandon McClung, Dannie Carson, Monty Bridges, Kris Brown, Anthony Rivas, Tito and Frank, Cody Newby and special mystery guest performers. Music starts at 2 p.m.
Zach and Sarah Holliday came together in Medicine Park, longtime home ground for the wife. Zach is a Philadelphia native. Although Whaley is a Park staple, he's originally from Tennessee. Marsh, the newest addition, is a transplant from Brooklyn, N.Y. In a nonsensical way, they make perfect sense.
Growing up in the Wichita Mountains area, Sarah Holliday said she has many memories that return to Medicine Park and the mountains surrounding it. It permeates one's character and, for musicians, creativity.
"Roots music is from this place," she said. "It's human, but it's also raw and guttural, rarely polished. That's why I was always drawn to it and to mountain music and old, outlaw honky tonk country it's gritty and endearing. It's not trying to be something it's not. I'm attracted to people like that, too, which is why this band works."
The concept for the group originated while the Hollidays lived in Richmond, Va. They returned in December, with vagabond blues man Big Pete Piehnik in tow.
"We were looking for a name that could encompass all of our musical influences, but also something that would bring to mind the high, lonesome sound of the mountains and the rambling highway fever, some long, gritty road trip where old diners, cheap motels and roadside bars serve as the backdrop for songs about regular people day to day," Holliday said.
If you missed out on their wonderful performance from yesterday's radio show, well, I guess I'll cut you a break, Check 'em out performing an original song to kick off this year's Parkstomp: • Just Strangers "Edward Cain" https://youtu.be/YIUkDCC1RU8.
Sarah Holliday and Whaley are the primary songwriters and Zach Holliday hones the melodies with his guitar and pedal steel work to craft "the environment of each story," she said. Newest member Marsh adds "that necessary train beat that drives each song further."
Front porch practices feature the imbibing of a few beers and a slew of song sharing. Visits from "creative, rambling friends hanging out" have led to new ideas and turns that twist their original notions into something special.
"It's super-natural and easy," she said. "It's really neat. Medicine Park lends itself to that kind of creative community and it has really been vital to have that energy around us."
The band is planning to take to the studio in the next month or so to begin work on an EP of all originals with maybe one or two traditional songs added for fun, Sarah Holliday said.
You can keep up with the group through its Facebook page or: www.reverbnation.com/juststrangers.
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Brandon Peregoy and Clay Commings will premiere as an acoustic duo Wednesday night. The two well-known local musicians are teaming up for a set beginning at 6:30 p.m. at the White Buffalo inside Central Mall, 200 SW C. It's all ages and no cover.
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Get ready for the showcase of future talent as Phillips Music Co., 107 S. Sheridan, presents its 9th Annual Phillips Music Education Center (PMEC) Student/Teacher Showcase.
The event is designed to highlight the students and faculty of the music store's Education Center to benefit the Lawton Food Bank. Admission is free, but everyone is encouraged to bring nonperishable food items.
"Each item donated will be worth one entry in the Guitar Smash-Off. Donate three items, you get three entries in the chance to be a 'rock star' and smash an otherwise useless guitar, 10 items gets you 10 entries, etc.," said coordinator David D. Jackson. There will also be drawings for some great prizes donated by several of music industry vendor sponsors. Cash donations will also be accepted one entry ticket for $1.
"All of our students have been encouraged to participate in this event by performing live with other students (and/or teachers) in bands or small groups," Jackson said. "This event will be geared to family and friends of our students, but everyone is welcome the Food Bank is in need of help this time of year, so bring donations even if you aren't interested in the 'Smash-Off.'"
This year's rock bands are featuring "The Music of 007" songs from James Bond movies, Jackson said.
Due to the earlier end of the Lawton Public Schools academic year, Jackson said, the event was moved to the first weekend in May and back to the original outdoor "festival" format. There will be parking south of the store, with the music happening on the west side of the building.
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The Allen Biffle Band will make its Riverwind Casino debut Saturday night at the Norman casino's River Lounge.
"It's our first time at the Riverwind, so I'm inviting all my friends in the Oklahoma City area to come see us this Saturday," Biffle said. "If you live outside of OKC the band would love to see you as well. Come out and party with us."
If you miss out, the band will be playing on the Swigg's Still & Grill stage May 6.
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Parlor Trick will join band buddies Paid in Spades for a 7 p.m. all-ages show Saturday at American Legion Post 29, 605 S. 11th. Cost is $4 at the door, but the experience of an all-ages show at the Legion Post is priceless.
Parlor Trick is releasing its debut EP, "Goliath," and you can pick up a copy at the show. The Lawton band is Joseph Diaz Jr., guitars; Caleb Payne, vocals; Corey Rodriguez, bass; and Johnny McLane, guitar.
"We actually don't have a drummer," Diaz said. "I wrote all the drum parts myself and we use a program called Superior Drummer for recording."
Diaz said the band still packs the percussion into the live show and album through the same process. After listening to the album, I can say drums aren't a problem.
The debut collection starts off strong with a bit of a sonic journey with "Intro." "Portent," is a groovy alterna-rock number that combines elements of Nirvana riffing with Bauhaus-esque vocals. The programmed backbeats are solid and will make some interesting material to work with when the right percussionist is found.
"Pyre" starts with an At the Drive-In-reminiscent introduction before plunging into a staccato riff that counters with Payne's vocal gymnastics. Paid in Spades is billed as a prog-rock band, and this is a song fits that trick into the deck. The chunky guitars to "Four" offer a fierce counterbalance to melodramatic, semi-operatic aspirations found in the vocals.
The title track closes with the footprint of the album's namesake. Pushing seven minutes long, it's an opus worthy of being called "Goliath." Some of the guitar work in this piece is gargantuan in its own right. The band is strong and comes up with some interesting and entertaining musical choices to close the collection out with a winner.
"We've been working on it since July of last year, so it feels good to finally have people listening," Diaz said. "We recorded, produced and mixed it ourselves."
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New friends Just Strangers joined this week's edition of "Today's Best Soundemonium ... for now!" with Steve Carr, a.k.a. Steve-O, and yours truly, for some non-serious tomfoolery to fill the airwaves. Along with the tale of the origins of the band's matching Armadillo tattoos, Jokey McJokerson provided his jocular wares. Here's the punchline:
"He wets his plants."
Turn your radio to Magic 95.3 FM Radio around 4:30 p.m. each Thursday or stream the half-hour show online: http://s1.phx.icastcenter.com/start/kmgz953/, on the Apple or Android apps or on the TuneIn app, or: http://www.kmgz.com/. Great local music acts have been making it the place to sound off. We're looking at more to come with special episodes filled with prior performances planned for the near future.
Visit, like and follow our Facebook page. The inaugural episode podcast (with "enhanced features") remains there. We've got plans for the future: https://www.facebook.com/steveoandthescribe/.
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Soundemonium Musaic Lawton music archive homepage: Scott Rains https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCPw__GedGPOUD-wROFcuZ8w.