WestFest 2017 Official Artist Guide

Western Avenue’s third annual WestFest music festival happens this Saturday, August 18th, 2017. The family-friendly event is free to attend, and there will be plenty of local businesses, venders, and food trucks on site between NW 41st and NW 43rd Street along a closed off Western Ave. For more info on the event, visit WestFestOK.com.

Cellar Door Music Group is thrilled and grateful to be a primary supporter of this year’s festival, and as part of that support, we’ve put together a rundown of all the music acts playing this weekend (sorted by time). This list goes great with WestFest’s Spotify playlist.

Unless otherwise stated, all acts are from right here in the Oklahoma City area.

Stephen Salewon – Main Stage, 12:00 pm

Singer-songwriter Stephen Salewon plays a sweet blend of folk, rock, and pop that is sure to sweep any music lover off their feet. Originally from Nigeria, the Oklahoma artist takes influences from many places to create blossoming arrangements that serve his unique voice and heartfelt lyrics.

He has recently taken more to playing with a full band, and that rich chemistry shows up on his latest EP, So Far, So Gone, which released just a few months ago.

The So Help Me’s – Main Stage, 1:00 pm

Indie rock darlings The So Help Me’s make use of distinct dual female lead vocals to draw listeners in to its dreamy world. The band plays subtly inventive musical arrangements, and they are never quite content to stay in the same groove for long. It’s the sort of music that is warm and familiar, but restless enough to stave off predictability.

The band’s acclaimed 2016 debut, The Relativity EP, is just a taste, as the band is currently working on a full-length project.

Fiawna Forté – Main Stage, 2:00 pm

Smoky rock ‘n roll is served hot with a jolt of powerful vocal delivery and undeniable live energy when it comes to Fiawna Forté. With a full band, the Tulsan infuses classic rock grooves with a more modern songwriting sensibility, resulting in sounds that can even range from psychedelic rock to doowop throwbacks while sounding fresh to the ears.

The video featured here is an acoustic rendition of a song from her most recent album, the excellent and underrated full-length Deciduous.

Gum – Main Stage, 3:00 pm

Indie/alternative band Gum takes a measured approach to rock music, channeling fuzzed out sounds and catchy grooves into a tailored mix. The five-piece nails down a sound that is atmospheric but sure-footed. It’s no wonder that the band is the type to let the music speak for itself rather than try to oversell it.

The band’s self-titled full-length debut was one of The Oklahoma Rock Show’s top albums of 2014, and it’s the one from which this video hails.

Smoochie Wallus – Will Rogers Stage, 3:30 pm

Tulsa lounge band Smoochie Wallus combines disparate elements of jazz, funk, and folk music to create a special blend of relaxing sounds. With fiddle, electric guitar, upright bass, and brush snare, the group presents a carefree vibe that’s topped with bright lead vocals.

The band’s 2016 three-track debut EP, Live From a Warehouse, mostly takes it easy, but “Sully’s Lament”, featured here, takes on a welcome pep that’s sure to kick off the Will Rogers stage in style.

The Big News – Main Stage, 4:00 pm

For those that somehow missed its revival in the 1990s, ska music is a fast-paced style of rock music that’s similar to reggae in composition but with a fun punk attitude and a lively brass section.

The Big News is Oklahoma’s premier ska band, known for its live energy and for playing just about everywhere in and out of the state. The group is easily one of WestFest’s most dance-worthy acts this year.

The band is currently supporting its new album, Welcome to the Weird Kids’ Table.

Zunis - Will Rogers Stage, 4:30 pm

Zunis is an alternative rock band from Tulsa that, while still new to the scene, has begun to carve out a place for itself. Its four-piece lineup of guitar, bass, drums, and keys are standard, but the members use them to explore preliminary reaches of psychedelic rock, jazz fusion, and other somewhat ethereal sounds while maintaining a gruff energy.

The band’s self-titled debut EP was released last year and can be streamed via the following video.

Roots of Thought - Main Stage, 5:00 pm

Tulsa-based Roots of Thought are an indie rock group that pairs pop melodies with psychedelic jams and introspective subjects. All of these elements pull together into an energetic stage show that’s further bolstered by engaging performances by its members. Fans of 2000s-era alt rock as well as present-day chart-topping pop/rock bands will find plenty to latch on to with Roots of Thought.

The band’s new EP, Familiar Feelings, is its first since 2014’s Parallel Self.

The Indigos - Will Rogers Stage, 5:30 pm

Once a singer-songwriter duo, The Indigos have since expanded to become a full-fledged indie pop band with a full range of soulful expression. Fronted by a skilled lead vocalist, the group channels positive vibes to commune with its audience in the joyous atmosphere of live music.

The Indigos are hard at work on a new release that better represents the band’s evolved sound, but since songwriting still stands at the core of the group, 2014’s full-length The Other Side is a great place to dive in.

L.T.Z. - Main Stage, 6:00 pm

One of the fastest rising voices in Oklahoma hip-hop of late, L.T.Z. has been making waves with his original style, often in collaboration with his go-to collaborator, DJ Chips, who will be joining L.T.Z.’s set for WestFest. In addition to rapping about Northside OKC neighborhood landmarks and his specific taste in Gatorade flavors, he also uses the artform to express personal and universal struggles in an approachable way. Expect to catch some of his trademark charisma and wit between songs at his set.

L.T.Z.’s WestFest performance is tripling as his birthday show and his album release show. His new full-length record, Sophisticated Slabs, just released this month.

Katie Williams - Will Rogers Stage, 6:30 pm

Americana singer-songwriter Katie Williams frequently performs solo with an acoustic guitar, so it’s always a treat when she brings a friend or two, as she is likely to do at this year’s WestFest. Her introspective songs never seem to fail to strike a chord with her audiences, in no small part because of her intoxicating performances.

The following video, which was an NPR Tiny Desk Concert submission, features a song from her 2015 EP, Force of Nature.

Saint Loretto - Main Stage, 7:00 pm

Saint Loretto is a synthpop act that thrives in catchy hooks, danceable grooves, and cool-hued performances. With big singles like “Manchester 1984” and “We Own The Night”, it’s easy to see why Saint Loretto has garnered such a following since its relatively recent inception. Fans of chill, retro-inspired modern pop music will have plenty to look forward to with this WestFest performer.

Saint Loretto’s debut EP, DEPTH/S, released on Halbird Records earlier this year.

Twiggs - Will Rogers Stage, 7:30 pm

Twiggs started as a singer-songwriter duo in Oklahoma before heading out to Nashville for a few years. Now they’re back with a full band to spread their take on what might best fall under alternative country. Lead vocals trade off between the core duo, who offer an almost shoegaze softness at times while rocking all the way out at others. Twiggs has a great, unique energy.

The band put out a wonderful sophomore LP a couple of years ago simply called Twiggs II.

KALO - Main Stage, 8:00 pm

Nobody does fiery blues rock like KALO, a powerful trio named for its  frontwoman who soloed under Bat-or Kalo for a while before revamping as a full band experience–and what an experience it is. KALO rocked last year’s WestFest and made an incredible impression in an unassuming midday slot. This year, the band is a bonafide headliner, and for good reason.

KALO is treating its WestFest set as its official OKC release show, in celebration of its new full-length record, Wild Change.

Vonna Pearl - Will Rogers Stage, 8:30 pm

Vonna Pearl is a newer band, but that doesn’t mean its members aren’t some of the most seasoned players around. For those unfamiliar, scene veterans Chelsea Cope and Taylor Johnson are the creative center, and with a full lineup, they tackle a bold rock ‘n roll sound that’s rich with lead harmonies.

This is a band that seems poised to be picked up by the music industry, and as such, Vonna Pearl has only teased its potential in terms of recordings and videos. Catching a live show is the only way to get a true sense of the band, and that’s what makes Vonna Pearl an absolute must-see at WestFest this year.

Beau Jennings & The Tigers - Main Stage, 9:00 pm

The other headliner this year is Beau Jennings & The Tigers, a Americana rock band that has been featured on NPR thanks to its single, “Back in Town”, which was one of 2016’s most celebrated Oklahoma songs. The band’s WestFest set will likely be a combination of new material from the band in addition to full versions of selections from Beau Jennings’ solo catalogue. The latter includes a concept album about Will Rogers called The Verdigris.

“Back in Town” was released as a single with a B-side on cassette as part of a tape series produced by OBNEAC. Prior to that, an EP called Sweet Action served as the debut of Beau Jennings & The Tigers.

This article was originally written for Cellar Door Music Group (cellardoormusicgroup.com). It is archived here with the publisher’s permission.

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aka Jarvix, the Chief Executive Weirdo of Make Oklahoma Weirder. His out-of-the-box music coverage has been published by the Oklahoma Gazette, KOSU, and The Oklahoman among others. He also makes DIY music as a solo multi-instrumentalist live looper in his spare time.

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