Delmar Gardens Food Truck Park is the latest addition to Oklahoma City's ever-growing Farmers Market District. With covered seating encircled by a food truck path, the quaint dining area invites all ages to try a rotating variety of meals on wheels throughout the week. It also has a stage for live entertainment, which is used for special events like 4th Fridays at The Market and tonight's Jamming in the Gardens.
Coinciding with the Bombs Away DJ/dance show at the nearby Public Farmers Market building, Jamming in the Gardens will feature local musicians in a free event open to the public. Classic blues rocker Scott Lowber will headline after an eclectic mix of openers. Pop vocal trio OK3, hard rock band Writing Off The Dead, ukulele singer-songwriter Harrison Clark Shaw, and celtic rock violinist EricaJames are all set to perform starting at 6 pm.
Justin Witte kicked off the night with an electric blues guitar solo set, sitting on his amp while clapping his shoes against a plank of wood to add an earthen percussive element. He also occasionally broke into muted trombone solos, which he played along with stretches of guitar work he recorded and played back live.
O Fidelis played next, also as a solo act. Singer-songwriter Laney Gililland held her own in the absence of her counterpart, playing kick drum with her acoustic guitar as she sang sweet Americana originals. The last leg of her set worked in ukulele for a nice change of pace.
A fun set from The Dirty Little Betty's closed out the lineup. As dusk turned to night, the bluegrass/folk band featured its two core members on banjo and guitar with a backing drummer. The guys exhibited a solid feel for vocal harmonies and song structure when they weren't engaging in creative banter.
Two shortfalls of this 4th Friday installment did admittedly have a marginal effect on the live music element. First, the venue didn't provide any house music, which left a substantial amount of dead air between live music sets. Second, there didn't seem to be much attention paid to sound engineering. A sound guy did run a sound check and helped with setting up, but during the performances, there was no one around. It was difficult to hear The Dirty Little Betty's' snare drum, for instance. There also wasn't a monitor for the acts to hear themselves, which is as standard a practice as any in live music.
Delmar Gardens is still cutting its teeth on all of this, though, and that showed with the crowd turnout. Despite having live music, artisan booths, and a bar area, the night started off quietly, peaked around 8 o'clock with just short of 100 people, and died out again by nightfall. Some fuller stage lighting might have helped the latter, but it's really just a matter of the park being new and unfamiliar to most Oklahomans.
The food truck park is a stone's throw from Power House, a bar and patio that has made waves in broadening what the Farmers Market District can be. While that venue books shows regularly and even has a "Power House Sessions" compilation album on the way, it no longer regularly hosts free live music on the patio. Attendence has ballooned past the area's capacity, so those concerts are now held in a separate indoor space.
This makes Delmar Gardens another torchbearer, in a sense. It's the only outdoor, all ages venue in the district. It's also worth noting that the other downtown food truck park, Bleu Garten, does host live music as well, but only on Wednesdays in a casual, stageless setting that features one artist instead of a lineup.
Delmar Gardens has only been open for two months, so it's still early to speculate what role it may play in Oklahoma's live music circuit. With lineups as diverse as that of Jamming in the Gardens, it seems like the organizers may be casting a wide net to see what sticks. The ground is fertile for experimentation, and the Farmers Market District--one not necessarily thought of as an arts district--is undergoing a major shift itself. Regardless of where everything settles, though, Delmar Gardens is one to watch. With its casual environment planted just shy of downtown, it's a great, relaxing destination for foodies and music lovers alike.