Joel T. Mosman & co. give the high sign for "radical love" in their fifth and final lead single to upcoming debut LP
There’s a well-regarded Dusty Gilpin mural in Oklahoma City that reads “Keep Oklahoma Friendly.” It captures a neighborly heartland spirit that has gotten Oklahoma through dustbowl and tornado alike throughout its statehood, and in the modern crises of 2020, the slogan is as needed as ever. Oklahoma Uprising gets this, and it’s a driving force behind the band’s upcoming debut LP, High Sign.
A 2017 Big 50 honoree, Oklahoma Uprising is no stranger to Make Oklahoma Weirder, but even newcomers will find it hard to make strangers out of the friendly faces and loving words of this country rock foursome. It certainly loves its southern grit, but at the heart of the project is a desire to lift up the community through that grit. It’s in the name, and it’s in the logo.
Founded by Joel T. Mosman in Guthrie, OK, the band is filled out by Zach Wiederstein on drums, Travis Lyon on bass, and Stuart Godfrey on lead guitar. In the studio, though, they are joined by additional musicians and vocalists to further convey expressions of country, Americana, and even gospel within its rock and roll.
Over the summer, Oklahoma Uprising released four new singles in anticipation of its new album, and today marks the fifth and final release of this rollout before High Sign drops in full on October 17th. “High Sign” is the title track of the LP, and you can give it a listen right now in this Make Oklahoma Weirder track premiere.
On “High Sign”, Oklahoma Uprising taps into its folk side to offer a mostly acoustic affair. Sentimental fiddle and steel pedal (Braden Russel and Joel Day, respectively) complement a humble drum rhythm as Mosman’s vocals contrast the cold dark of loneliness with the warmth of peace, hope, and love.
Though Mosman is at the mic and has historically been the band’s lead songwriter, it is drummer and bandleader Wiederstein who brought “High Sign” to the table. The lyrics play on the title phrase, seeking “a sign from up above” rather than sending a signal of approval, as the term’s traditional usage would assume. In other words, it replaces conditionality with grace. What a beautiful twist on what it can mean to be “okay.”
There are other nice lyrical plays here, too, like the write/right homonym in the second verse, but “High Sign” never intends to show off. Instead, it trucks along the proverbial road it references, offering a common hand or ear to vagabonds along the way. The mixing and mastering (Stephen Pettyjohn of Ethereal Mastering) understand this as well, offering just enough production to deliver the message on sweet, easy-going soundwaves.
“I believe this is an important message for what is going on in the world,” Joel T. Mosman said regarding the new single. “We get so caught up in ‘taking care of number one’ that it takes away from our investment in others. I feel like if we can put more value in one another then we can be a stronger community.”
If there’s ever a playlist to be made around the spirit and identity of “Keep Oklahoma Friendly,” it won’t be complete without “High Sign”. Oklahoma Uprising is an embodiment of the very notion, looking to mend the divisions in society and build community through, as the band puts it, “radical love.”
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.