Armes follows dreams with music
A bit of a Renaissance man and full-fledged Southwest Oklahoma legend Don Armes stopped by Studio Blanket/Tent Fort for this week's "Today's Best Soundemonium!" with Steve Carr, a.k.a. Steve-O, and the columnist, to make some fun and some fun music. After being a teacher, radio personality, auctioneer, State Representative, and now a lobbyist, you learn quickly that he's an all-around cool guy. He's a pretty good musician and a heckuva storyteller as well.
Armes first took guitar lessons at the age of 50 and in the almost seven years to follow, he said his only regret is not taking more. He always had a guitar and loved to pick and piddle with it. He said the trick is to keep one on a stand in an accessible place and then pick it when you can "I have to fight for time to play." It was his father's death seven years ago that gave him the push to go further with his musical aspirations.
"I'd always had a guitar but I'd never really learned," Armes said. "When my dad died, I figured it was time to follow my dreams. ... If you're going to do them, you better get busy. ... I picked it up quick; I was at a place in life that I wanted to learn it."
Learning songs and playing them correctly all the way through is how Armes said he's advanced. He had a musical ear from junior high band experience. Now that he had the basics down, he had life experience and stories to tell through song. One number you heard on the show, "Dan's Cowboy Inn," hearkens back to his teens when he and his friends would get into the old southside watering hole while underage. "We had a lot of fun," he said. "We were definitely too young to be in there."
Armes has a few other songs in various stages of "finished," and he has a tendency to create something special for an occasion. He said his age doesn't always allow him to remember them for too long. But a song about his late sister Laura is etched in his soul. Inspired by a photo of her atop the Mac Highlanders' bass drum at a high school football game, "She Danced on the Drum" celebrates her spirit through his tale-telling.
"A lot of times, I lose somebody and I'll sit down and write a little," Armes said. "Man, you talk about something hard to write, but it was one of those that had to be written down."
Self-effacing regarding his abilities, Armes said learning the guitar as well as learning and making up songs is good for his soul. The years as an auctioneer have made him comfortable in front of people with a microphone, so he's already halfway there as a performer. As he's nearing closer to 60, he said practicing guitar and losing himself in song is good for his acuity as well as his soul. The repetition of drilling on chords and techniques helps open up the creative mind.
"It's just kind of fun, everybody needs a creative outlet," Armes said. "Learning songs is good for me, it sharpens mental skills. ... An old cattelman said: 'The dullest pencil's better than the sharpest mind.'"
Of Armes' choice of "pencil," right now his acoustic Gibson AJ Pro signs a nice signature. His first acoustic was an Alvarez, followed by a lower end Martin. Once he started paying attention to what the pros use, he went for his Gibson. But he always has his eyes open for a new instrument. Right now, a mandolin has been calling his name, he said.
"This is my shoe shopping," Armes said. "I will spend more money (on guitars) than I should."
Although he's not expecting to become the next American Idol, Armes said there's a comfort in finding his creative niche. You're never too old to follow your heart and make a joyful noise. So the next time you see the fast-talking man in the straw cowboy hat, talk up his beloved OSU Cowboys and ask him for a song there's a good chance he'll oblige.
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Although some of the performers slated for last Saturday's Summer Music Bash at Chuckies Toys, 2415 N. Sheridan, fell through, those who made it made it worthwhile. Bassment House Records offered a freestyle jam that impressed with their special blend of multi-vocal hip hop. With great humor to bend their rhymes around, these cats are something else. Steve Wren brought his acoustic guitar and songbook of originals to share in the intimate setting. Housed inside the toy store, these musicians' performances weren't playing while making music from the heart.
Proprietor Charles "Chuckie" Simmons said the shows have provided a sense of community between him, the musicians and the kids who come to the store. There will be more shows planned throughout the summer.
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You know Uncle Dave Crow from his work with The (legendary) JuJu Beans and from Uncle Dave's Rock Service. With his newest project Thunder Horse, he's showing off the depths of his sonic magicianship.
Exchanging guitar for 12-string bass, Crow's joined by a lineup that features the vocals and rhythm guitar of Stephen Bishop (Pitbull Daycare); drummer, Jason "Shakes" West (Murderdolls, Wednesday 13, Neurotica, Sebastian Bach, Athanasia); and the lead guitar of T.C. Connally (Evil United, PB/DC, Cult to Follow). With their debut self-titled EP, this band is exploring the low end of the spectrum with its brand of southern sludge metal. Take equal parts Black Sabbath, Neurosis, and Sleep with elements of Masters of Reality, add Alice Cooper-meets-Perry Farrell vocals, they create some primordial sounds.
"Coming Home" offers foreboding with its opening riff. Precision riffage coupled with a wall of resonating distortion builds over "Blood Ritual" to conjure the finest of dark musical arts. At almost 9 minutes long, "Liber Ad Christ Milites Templi" is an epic journey up Mt. Kilmanjaro that culminates with a black metal mass. It's a pressure cooker that steams to perfection.
Crow's galloping bass leads into "Demons Speak" and hits like an updated "Children of the Grave." "This is the End" is a 9-minute journey to heavy metal hell and back it doesn't run, instead, it slow marches its way into Valhalla. Closing with "Pray for Rain," the listener's prayer is for this band's sophomore release to hurry up and come out. I can't get enough of this debut and want to hear more.
You can give the album a listen and download it: https://thunderhorse.bandcamp.com/releases.
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All you performers who've been a part of the radio show or who will be in the future, test your mettle and send us your best funny covers, originals and mash-ups for the LLOLAF End-Of-SummerSpecial Mix Tape. You can record it yourself or, you need to come to the studio, either contact Steve Carr or the columnist via our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/steveoandthescribe/; or email our email: soundemoniumgmail.com.
Here's a different form of inspirado for the project: nTenacious D "Tribute" https://youtu.be/_lK4cX5xGiQ.
It was a true pleasure having Don Armes visit Studio Blanket/Tent Fort for this week's "Today's Best Soundemonium!" with Steve Carr, a.k.a. Steve-O, and the columnist. He pushed the Great Soundforce into new territory and discovered the magic of "Herkafrithom."
Following a month of cattle-inspired humor (and borrowing from Macy Zwaan), Jokey touched on the inevitable follow-up for the set-up to this month's first joke. Here's the punchline:
"It hasn't come out yet."
Turn your radio dial to Magic 95.3 FM Radio around 6:25 p.m. each Thursday (if not much earlier) or stream the half-hour show online: http://s1.phx.icastcenter.com/start/kmgz953/ or www.onlineradiobox.com; or on the Apple or Android apps or on the TuneIn app, or: http://www.kmgz.com/.
And, hey, if you have a song you want us to check out, email us: soundemoniumgmail.com.
#Sundaymonium Remember that every Sunday night you can listen to a rebroadcast of the prior week's show followed by this week's show: 6 p.m., Titan Metal; 6:30 p.m., Don Armes.
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