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Old 81 band has unique blend of sounds

If you take some grunge rock, roll it in Southern California beach folk, add some old school Merle Haggard mixed with modern rock, power it with the pulse of Motely Crue and roll it all together in some good ol' Southwest Oklahoma red dirt, you get Old 81. 

At least that's what they call it and, after hearing the band perform, I couldn't agree more. They were great guests for the first morning edition of "Today's Best Soundemonium!" with Steve Car, a.k.a. Steve-O, and the columnist. 

The band  Ryan Walden, guitar/vocals; Cassidy Morgan, mandolin/guitar/harmonica/vocals; Justin Harkins, drums; Adam Evans, bass; and Trey Klinkenbeard, guitar/banjo/keyboards/vocals  knocked their performances out of the ballpark before they were sucked into the Matrix's inner space. Walden, Morgan and Harkins were in the studio and, although some of their interview aired, a computer crash lost the end of it as well as musical performances. We're definitely going to have them back soon  as soon as the IT guys figure out how to dig them out of the system. Its performances of "Sasakwa," "He Waits" and Matchbox 20's "Hang" made me a believer in this group's mojo. I get where they're coming from, both inspirationally and musically.

"We're named for that 7-mile stretch of highway (old U.S. 81); we all live along there from Meridian to Marlow," Walden said. "Musically, here's the cool thing about us  we really run the gauntlet."

For a band that pulls its influences from the realms of bluegrass to rock 'n' roll and everything in between, Old 81 is a well-worn road that still offers surprises. After being together about a year, Walden said, the band is readying to record its debut album  right now it has about six or seven solid numbers but want another six in pocket before taking them to the studio. Personal experience is the key to the songs. 

"We've got numerous songs on the mixing block," Walden said. "You get some interesting stuff, to say the least. We absolutely love making our own music."

The band enjoys playing cover songs, too. But, Walden said, "we like to do them our way." If the audience hears something familiar but presented in a new way, it can really move people, he said. 

Although based in Stephens County, the band has been making its mark with shows at The Root and Bedlam BBQ in Oklahoma City and at a recent benefit concert in Wichita Falls, Texas. They're ready to expand their roads traveled. With strong songwriting that's both challenging and hook filled, the potential to be a headline act is there.

You can hear what I'm talking about when you go to the Old 81 Soundcloud page and give "Sasakwa" a listen  https://soundcloud.com/user-940096313. Inspired by the small town mysteries and intrigues that surround the Seminole County town, Oklahoma is ripe with lyrical inspiration, Walden said. It permeates just like the red dirt that colors the band's sound. 

Visit Old 81's Facebook page and let it get inside you. Hopefully you'll see them live and not in holographic form from the whole Matrix thing.

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The Zero Casualties Band has been taking its blend of classic tunes to local stages as it readies its debut album. You can catch them at 9 p.m. Saturday at Fubar Saloon, No. 4 W. Lee.

"We play rock, classic rock and blues," said guitarist Bryan Foster. "We like to say our genre is 'Red Rock' because we are a little harder than dirt."

Along with Foster, the band includes Cody Smith, vocals; Jay Lane, bass; John Jarret, guitar; and Jim McClindon, drums. Foster said the band is planning on taking 2018 by storm. 

"We have been recording multiple original songs in the studio for about a month," Foster said. "Not sure when they will be ready."

You can bet you'll read about it first here in the column and we'll have the band into the studio for a future radio show when it's set for release. Keep up with the band via its Facebook page. 

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My first favorite thing so far of 2018 comes out Jan. 12. Dr. Demento Covered in Punk is due for release and features some great weirdness from the "Demented One" along with punk rock covers by Joan Jett & The Blackhearts, Misfits, B52's Fred Schneider, Adam West, Weird Al Yankovic and (my fave) William Shatner covering The Cramps  "Garbageman"  https://youtu.be/FJEc-KPnIxI.

The album is the inaugural release from Demented Punk Records and is a special two-hour demented punk extravaganza featuring an eclectic mix of artists from the world of classic and contemporary punk/indie/alt-rock, along with special guest stars from film, TV and more. Considered an audio oddity, the collection is a modern-day homage to radio icon Dr. Demento, a world-renowned institution who has championed novelty music and its creators since the 1970s. The album features over 30 different, never-before-released, all-new 'punk' cover versions of 'mad music and crazy comedy songs heard on the airwaves of the legendary the 'Dr. Demento Show.'" 

"The Dr. Demento Show" has been celebrating "mad music and crazy comedy," playing everything from Spike Jones to Frank Zappa for nearly five decades. Yankovic made his debut there as a teen. The show was life to me on many a Sunday night drive.

Find out more: www.coveredinpunk.com, www.dementedpunk.com, www.dementedpunkmerch.com, and www.drdemento.com.

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Best Local Stuff of 2017  There's a tie for my choices for the top local albums of the year: Sunlander/Oberon's "The Divide" and Cade Roth & The Black Sheep's self-titled debut album. Brad Good, Ken Morrow and Komatryp rounded out my Top 5 2017 album releases with some top-quality material, performances and production. 

Last year was a definitive breakout for my pick for MVP: Tito Lindsey. Between his solo shows and those with his top-notch band Red Dirt Rising, Lindsey has become a bright light in the local and regional music scene. I'm looking forward to that debut album.

The choice for One to Watch is Ke'Neesha Jones. Give her 2017 song "10 Foot Wall" a listen and you'll understand. With music produced by Fyu-Chur, she's got the whole package of voice and style to be something big in the future.

A couple of great (albeit too brief) returns to the stage included Allusion's return with Brandon Cramer back on twin guitar duties along with Tyler Farmer and Ricky Warren and The Cutthroat Bastards. Both groups offered high-octane stand-alone performances that not only stood out but that also, I believe, were crucial to injecting some old fire into the local music scene. The return of Backwash added to that with its resurgence as one of the great local live acts. When strong, original acts are thriving, our local scene thrives as well. In the end, however, it comes down to the audience and its hunger for quality entertainment. Southwest Oklahoma is a great place to get your fill if you just open up to it and explore the space. 

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Old 81 opened up 2018's new time slot (9:30 a.m. every Thursday) with this week's "Today's Best Soundemonium!" with Steve Carr, a.k.a. Steve-O, and yours truly. Despite technical difficulties that careened near catastrophe, it was still a pretty great start to the year. Carr and his morning show co-host Indie Michaels are celebrating their New Year's Day takover/marathon of the station with U2's "New Year's Day" played for 18 hours while they locked down the station with a list of demands: a coffee ninja, three breakfasts a week and more money. Management relented and offered a Keurig coffee maker and no charges were filed.

Jokey McJokerson went meta with this week's joke setup. Here's the punch line:

"If it had four doors it would be a chicken sedan."

Turn your radio dial to Magic 95.3 FM Radio around 9:25 p.m. each Thursday or stream the half-hour show online: http://s1.phx.icastcenter.com/start/kmgz953/, on the Apple or Android apps or on the TuneIn app, or: http://www.kmgz.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., Cashroh; 6:30 p.m., Old 81. 

Visit, "like" ("love") and follow our Facebook page ://www.facebook.com/steveoandthescribe/.The two-part video slideshow with audio from the first all-performance episode, along with the very first episode, are found in the "Video" folder.

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Bookmark the site and visit weekly for online features every Friday at swoknews.com to enjoy a full feature experience with a quick click on any of the video links to get a full experience at your fingertips. Bookmark the column's YouTube channel and visit the library of exclusive videos from the column's archive featuring some of the best past local (and visiting) talent that's graced Southwest Oklahoma's stages. More added often:

Soundemonium Musaic Lawton music archive homepage: Scott Rains  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCPw__GedGPOUD-wROFcuZ8w.

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