The Blue Note is one of these bar gems--they not only have a 9+ year history in their dedication to Oklahoma music artists, but their support and loyalty has become stronger over the past few years. Grace Gordan, and her team, rally around their local artists by providing positive booking experiences, accomodating staff and sound engineer, a great stage set up, along with artist-friendly compensation--each element making The Blue Note a coveted place to play for local and touring acts.
I couldn't have been more happy to catch up with Grace, who not only books shows for The Blue Note, but is also an huge part of the Oklahoma City music scene. I wanted to know more about her work and also what makes the Blue Note so successful as a local music hub.
Grace: The Blue Note is a historic venue/bar that has been around since 1951 and is located in uptown Oklahoma City. We've launched the careers of legendary bands like The Flaming Lips and Chainsaw Kittens, and hosted thousands of other major touring artists over the decades. Nowadays, we are known for booking solid, amazing line-ups, having an incredible staff, two of the best sound guys in the city, a kick-ass P.A., and cheap, stiff drinks. I couldn't be prouder of how The Blue Note operates, and I am amazed at how far it has come since Kendal, Matt and I started running operations.
Jenn: With this venue being so old, and inevitably undergoing many changes over time--what are some of your favorite aspects about the venue that have been implemented in recent years?
Grace: I love how much dedication we put into making sure our live shows sound good. We have updated our PA, installed a light system, and hired two of the best sounds guys in the 405 (Tony Mahon and Jacob Straney). I think the quality of shows has made a tremendous difference in the overall atmosphere of The Blue Note.
Jenn: What do you think makes The Blue Note unique to Oklahoma City?
Grace: I think The Blue Note is special for three reasons: 1) We host very diverse genres of music, so we're not just a "punk" venue or a "blues" venue or a "rock" venue – we promote an amalgamation of all genres. 2) Every single employee at The Blue Note truly cares about more than just the bottom line. We are generous hosts who care that bands get paid well, have a great experience, and are treated like kings and queens in our establishment. When you play at The Blue Note, we hope to leave you with a positive impression. It is very important to us that both guests and bands have a great time when they're in the building. 3) Since I co-host The Oklahoma Rock Show on The Spy and KOSU, I have been able to forge a symbiotic relationship between my job at the Blue Note and my job on the radio. So, I have the pleasure of "cultivating a scene" and nurturing emerging talent. There isn't a single venue in the entire state with the kind of crossover and deep appreciation for local music that the Blue Note has with the Oklahoma music scene.
"I love how much crossover there is between bands and how willing everyone is to share and collaborate, and I love the support that musicians give each other. It sometimes feels like one big happy family." -Grace Gordon
Grace: It's hard to describe my level involvement, but suffice to say I am everywhere, all the time, hunting for talent, nurturing talent, booking talent and promoting talent. The Oklahoma Rock Show is one of my other jobs, and every week I spend hours finding new music to bring to the masses via the airwaves. Local music is literally my life and my livelihood. I care more about Oklahoma music than I care about anything (except for the Thunder, haha). I see my role as a catalyst for bands and performers to reach a broader audience. I'm not in it for ME, I'm in it for US. I think Oklahoma has the best music scene in the country, and I will go to my grave having done everything in my power to call attention to the talent here.
Jenn: What local artists have you been listening to lately?
Grace: Here are a few I can't stop listening to: Larry Chin, Colourmusic, Sardashhh, Vrex, Frank Black, Elteazee, Tobywan Kinoby, Tallows, Elms, Trash Pops, Gum, Glow God, Dream Bend, Traindodge, Jhohn Arlie, Fabulous Minx, Who and the Fucks.
Jenn: What has been one of the best live music moments at The Blue Note?
Grace: Easily The Oklahoma Rock Show Best of 2014 Showcase that we just hosted last weekend. It's the most packed The Blue Note has ever been since I started working there, and the music was absolutely phenomenal. It brought a tear to my eye to look around and see literally hundreds of people enjoying the amazing music being produced by Oklahoma artists.
Jenn: What do you think is missing within the Oklahoma music scene and what are some ways we can continue to grow?
Grace: Man, that's a great question and something I ask myself frequently. I think we need more large cap venues so that high profile bands start paying better attention to Oklahoma and stop considering it a flyover state. I think we need better promotion for shows. More festivals. More everything. Nothing is necessarily missing from the Oklahoma music scene, we just need more resources, and that comes with progress and time. Fortunately, we are progressing and evolving, so let's see where all of this hard work lands us in 5 years.
Grace: I could write a 5,000 word essay on what I love about the Oklahoma music scene, but I'll try to keep this brief. I love the diversity of talent (yes, we have more than Americana, country, and red dirt happening here!), I love how much crossover there is between bands and how willing everyone is to share and collaborate, and I love the support that musicians give each other. It sometimes feels like one big happy family.
Jenn: What are the best ways people can continue to stay updated with Blue Note events and shows?
Grace: We are very active on social media, so I'd say following us on twitter and instagram (@blue_note_okc) on both would be your best bet. We also post frequently about shows on Facebook, and we update our website calendar (thebluenotelounge.com) every week!
Jenn: Tell us one of the Blue Note’s best kept secrets?
Grace: Soul Time Tuesday hosted by DJ Tom Hudson. It happens every second Tuesday on drown night. Tom spins rare afrobeat, funk and soul tunes from the 60s and 70s and everyone in the building has a giant dance party. It is literally the most fun I've ever had, every month. No cover! Oh, and Tom just landed a show on The Spy and KOSU called Soul Time, so obviously, he's a talented DJ.
Also, last note, we have some of the best bartenders in the entire city. Matt, Kendal, Jackie, Conner, Colton and Big Joe will make you feel like family.
2408 N Robinson Ave, Oklahoma City, OK 73103