"It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" is more than just a song title for members of the 77th Army Band.
Each year they look forward to strutting their stuff at their annual holiday concert. To that end, the various combos are practicing away in the "loud rooms" of the band's new headquarters, Building 1721 on Fort Sill Boulevard.
Warrant Officer Matthew David, director of the band, said what he envisioned for this concert was the audience sitting just as they would if they were in their living rooms at home listening to music with the entire family.
"I wanted it to be a nice community-builder. It's our way of saying thank you to the community," he said.
This year the McMahon Auditorium Authority will sponsor the concert, which is called simply "A Christmas Concert." It will take place at 7 p.m. Thursday at the McMahon Memorial Auditorium, 801 NW Ferris Ave. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. Admission is free, but seating is first-come, first-served, so it's best to arrive early.
The concept is the same as last year, but with new music, David said.
The first half of this fast-paced show will be from a half-hour to 45 minutes of continuous music, mostly popular music with the band's woodwind quintet, brass quintet and Dixieland combo featured during set changes.
Lyrics to all of the songs will be projected onto a screen behind the band so the audience can sing along within reason. David said the whole concert will be a sing-along of sorts.
"I know everybody knows all of these songs, because I tried to pick something that's mostly contemporary, or at least from the '60s on," the director said. "It's a wide variety."
An extra special holiday treat is in store for Lawtonians next weekend a treat they haven't seen the likes of in nearly eight years when 65 dancers grace the stage at Cameron University to offer a dazzling rendition of "The Nutcracker."
Under the direction of Katie Veenhuizen, artistic director of Lawton Ballet Theatre, dancers will perform the first act, split into two segments, of "The Nutcracker."
"I've broken up this first act into two mini-acts so that we can have an intermission," Veenhuizen explained, "and I've tried to keep a lot of the orginal choreography because the one I performed growing up used a lot of Marius Petipa, the original cheoreographer of 'The Nutcracker.'"
Veenhuizen opened her studio in the beginning of August and originally wanted her dancers to perform both acts of the ballet. She changed her mind however, after determining the difficulty of a new studio undertaking such a task.
"I wanted to do the whole thing," she said, "but since we're so new and it's such a huge performance I mean it's three hours long if you do the whole thing I said, 'All right, for this first year we're just going to do the first act because it's kind of a good place to start. It's almost its own little ballet. Next year we're going to do the entire thing.
"I told my dancers in August, I said, 'I think you can do this, don't let it intimidate you that it's a classical ballet.' And I really think they shine and have done a great job."
Owning her own company has been a lifelong dream, Veenhuizen said and so has producing "The Nutcracker."
Lawton Pro Musica will offer the community a cheerful performance showcasing what this special time of year may sound like in lands far from the United States.
On Tuesday the vocalists of Lawton Pro Musica will perform "Christmas Around the World," their first show of their 2013-14 season and one that director Nancy Willoughby said will be a unique and delightful concert fitting for winter wonderlands worldwide.
"I am really excited about this," she said. "Music really is universal. You could go to any of these countries that we mention in our program and hear these songs during the season."
The seasonal set list includes the Norwegian carol "O Yule Full of Gladness," the Chinese carol "Pengyou, Ting!," a Latvian carol known as "Ai, Nama Mamina," the Ukrainian "Carol of the Bells" and other holiday numbers from several countries. Willoughby said the program is one that reflects the diversity found within Lawton's own residents.
"In our community we have so many different nationalities, and that's what makes our area so special," she said. "It gives us a chance to present this music and have people that can really appreciate it."
The concert marks the 11th year Lawton Pro Musica has performed in the community. Its season-opening performance will feature solo performances by Sahona Littig-Albin, Ted Stevens and Doug Snook; Yiuka Chan Spannagel will accompany the ensemble on piano. By choosing a broad theme for the choir's annual holiday performance, Willoughby said, the group has gained valuable experience as it worked on the various pieces.
"It's been a bit of a challenge," she said. "Over the past 10 years we've done several songs that individuals were familiar with. In this concert there was a lot of new material to learn."
It's a Christmas tradition that has been around more than 70 years in Southwest Oklahoma, and it's time again for vocalists from nearly 30 congregations of faith to sing praise to Jesus Christ.
Several selections from Handel's "Messiah" will echo throughout McMahon Memorial Auditorium on Saturday. Though the region's military community continues to change the membership of the Lawton-Fort Sill holiday chorus, the message and passion remain clear for both those singing in the first year and those who have made their participation part of the Christmas season.
"It's so wonderful to perform because the text of this whole work is from the Bible," said Doris Lambert, the chorus conductor. "It allows all of us, no matter what our denominational background, to focus on the main thing, which is God's word and his promise to his people to give us a messiah."
Lambert herself has made a dedicated commitment throughout the years she's directed the program since 1987. Each year the event has been a special time to look forward to.
"I cannot tell you how many times I've heard in the community, 'It's not Christmas until I've heard Handel's 'Messiah,'" Lambert said. "I will never get tired of conducting this work. It will always be special, fresh and new."
As the director, she's seen an array of personalities flow through the membership as families arrive and depart the region. Each year, Lambert said, the choir develops its own personality, and many times the diversity provides experiences to be shared from choirs around the globe.
"Our military singers have been all over the world," she said. "A lot of our members have sung this work in the great cathedrals in Germany and Italy. It's great to have their contributions to the work as a whole. Many people have sung the piece with different people at different venues with other conductors. These members bring new paradigms to the performance. It's always extremely exciting to see how everything works out."
For the second time this year, publisher EA has released a broken game to the public for the price tag of $60.
Instead of learning from mistakes made on "SimCity," it ignored logic and pushed out "Battlefield 4" in an unplayable state, just so it can beat Activision's similarly broken "Call of Duty: Ghosts" to the market by a week. For some reason, these publishers think whichever game releases first will be the one everyone will pick up and play until the following year, when another rushed release will hit the market again. It's a pattern that has continued to propagate over the course of the last console generation as mega-publishers annualize their most popular series. The problem is these franchises continue to degrade in quality with each each subsequent title to the point that it takes months of endless patches and bug fixes just to get the game into a proper state while the marketing campaign begins ramping up for another.
DICE's "Battlefield" is a different beast. The "ambitious" a term used quite loosely title is developed on a more traditional two-year development period. This allows DICE, which is a massive developer, to dedicate the time, resources and manpower needed to ensure each "Battlefield" release lives up to the legacy established by "Battlefield 1942" and "Battlefield 2," both of which are still very popular in the PC space today.
But it seems this DICE development studio isn't the same that released those two titles, or even the popular "Bad Company" series. "Battlefield 3" felt more like an amalgam of previous "Battlefield" titles and its competitor's "Call of Duty" series. Once again, another franchise is ruined as developers and publishers try to chase that "Call of Duty" cash. EA's series offered something different a unique blend of less arcadey gunplay mixed with the most refined vehicle combat in video games today with massive maps that could easily contain the 64-player Conquest mode. There was no other series like it before EA demanded more shallow game play systems to ensure people that could easily "master" "Call of Duty" could come and play "Battlefield."
The strategy worked and "Battlefield 3" went on to sell more than 15 million copies a total higher than any other entry in the series. It didn't hurt that, for the first time, a mainline "Battlefield" game was released on both the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 as well. But instead of allowing DICE to go back to the drawing board to refine what worked in "Battlefield 3" and add new elements to truly make its successor a game-changer, EA forced the developer to immediately get to work on a hard deadline of having a title out in 2013, two weeks before the new "Call of Duty" would hit. The developer certainly hit the deadline, but it sure isn't anything anyone should pay full price for.
Two good causes are bringing Ken Morrow and Hired Guns to the local stage to do his giving for the holidays.
The outlaw country singer/songwriter from Medicine Park and his band will perform at 7 p.m. tonight for the Medicine Park Phone Company. The show will be at the historic Medicine Park Music Hall. The phone company, founded in 1903, is run by the Hillary family.
"Me and the guys get the honor of playing for the Medicine Park Phone Company," Morrow said. "The Hillarys have been outstanding pillars of the Medicine Park community; I personally hope that we give them the best show they've ever had. Setting the bar high!"
For info about the show, call the phone company, 529-2700, or stop by the office at No. 1 Big Rock Road.
Next Friday night, Morrow's trio will perform at the Cache High School Auditorium to headline the Neighbor to Neighbor Benefit Concert at 7:30 p.m. following the community Christmas parade, which starts at 5:30 p.m. The concert, billed to benefit local families in their time of need, is a donation-only-entry, all-ages show that's sponsored by Neighbor to Neighbor, Cache-Indiahoma Ministerial Alliance, Cache Public Schools Association, Cache police and fire departments, the Indiahoma Fire Department and County Times.
"I really expect a big showing there," Morrow said. "Pete Piehnik and Don Armes will both play a few songs before we go on."
Proceeds will help several local families who have suffered recent losses due to cancer.
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Mike's Sports Grille is opening up its venue in hopes of becoming your red dirt/rockin' destination for the weekend.
Owner Mike Underwood said his namesake establishment, 517 E. Gore, is trying to become established as a "worth the drive" place to have a good time. "We're wanting to give people on the west side (of town) a reason to drive over here and see what we've got going on," he said.
Underwood said Friday nights from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. are karaoke nights for all who think they can carry a tune. But Saturday nights are all about the musicians who carry their gear along with their tunes and their hearts on their sleeves. Red dirt-blended country and rock singer/songwriters itching to share their tales through melody and music are asked to contact the venue by either calling 357-3080 or visiting the establishment's Facebook page if interested in booking a gig.
After kicking things off last Saturday night with Chris Caldwell, Underwood planned for a set by the Samantha Rose Band for Saturday night. However, the projected winter storm forced a cancellation of Friday's karaoke as well as her Saturday night set.
"Everyone stay safe and warm and we will update you with the rescheduled date as soon as it is locked in," Underwood said.
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A Lawton-born Oklahoma music legend is bringing sweet music from his 40-plus year musical career as a Christmas offering with the Dec. 17 release of "Snapshot."
Leon Russell, 71, the master of space and time, is offering a collection of 10 of his previously released masterpieces for the release, which will also include four printed photos. Songs include "So Hard to Say Goodbye," "Come for You," "I Love the Way You Love Me" and "Friendly Fire." Sounds like an ideal stocking stuffer for the discerning Oklahoma music fan.
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An even more locally based artist is offering a free download of his Christmas album. Andrew Laramie Brasier, a.k.a. Andrew the Poet!, is offering the eight-track holiday-themed collection "Winter Beard" online in hopes of spreading Christmas cheer in his own sardonic manner.
"I have a Christmas album that I released last year," said Brasier, who's sharp witted and always entertaining. "It's free to download and it's sure to make your holiday super depressing."
Brasier will join an all-day lineup beginning at 12:45 p.m. Dec. 14 for the Second Annual Winterfest, hosted and sponsored by Lovesick Ministries, 1107 SW Summit. This will be an all-day concert at which the organizers will take donations for the needy. Such donations will include canned goods, toys and clothes. There is no cover charge and doors open at 12:30 p.m.
Music ranges from acoustic singer/songwriter stuff to metal and hard-core, progressive metal, some punkish stuff and more. Lawton acoustic singer/songwriter Linz Tuberville kicks off the show from 12:45-1 p.m.. Another local group. Cool Tapes, will play from 1:30-1:50 p.m. Also on the bill are Quiet Things, Death Trap and Life Lessons from Oklahoma City, Dallas hard core stalwarts Face Value and a pair of Kansas City bands, Conflicts and Dead Ties, among the many performers slated for this 10-hour exercise in musical diversity.
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Christmas cheer can be a good way of getting your fingers on another great Oklahoma-based band's masterful reworking of a classic rock icon for a reduced price if you enjoy vinyl.
Warner Bros. Records relaunched its online vinyl record store Because Sound Matters and to celebrate the relaunch, the site is hosting a storewide sale with select titles available for 30 percent off, including an interesting treatment of a classic rock staple by The Flaming Lips..
On Thursday, you can get a discount to purchase a 140-gram, clear vinyl record with bonus CD of "The Flaming Lips and Stardeath and White Dwarfs With Henry Rollins and Peaches Doing the Dark Side of the Moon." After seeing them perform this in its entirety during the birth of 2010 at the New Year's Freak Out in Oklahoma City and hundreds of repeated listens in the years that followed, all I can say is this is a real treat for anyone looking for something old, something new, something borrowed and something cool for under the old Christmas tree.
Santa's getting a workout this year with the help of "Downtown in December," and there's more than cookies, cakes and gingerbread men for the adventurous lil' elves of the family.
"Downtown in December gets better every year; we like to mix it up and have a wide range of events," said Gentry McKeown, communications coordinator for Downtown OKC.
About 20 events will take place in and around downtown Oklahoma City. "We are always thinking of new ways for families to create holiday memories downtown," McKeown said.
If you don't want to become a "yule log" get moving with the SandRidge Santa Run. It includes a 5K race, a 1-mile fun run and a free Santa Claus Kid's Dash, plus a warm-up with Rumble the Bison and the Thunder Girls. This year, proceeds raised will benefit NorthCare.
The races will start from 9 to 10 a.m. on Dec. 14, but you need to register for the 5K and the 1-mile fun run. All runs begin and end at Leadership Square, 211 N. Robinson.
All runners are invited to dress up in their most festive holiday costumes for the races. Registered 5K runners who dress up in holiday costumes may qualify for the costume contest.
Register at prerace.com/races/event/42178. These and more events can be found at downtownindecember.com or by calling (405) 235-3500. Some events require registration.
The two Cameron University Department of Music performances scheduled this week the Cameron University Concert Choir and Centennial Singers winter concert and the premiere of the musical "The Juries" will continue to run as scheduled until further notice.
If weather conditions force classes and activities to be canceled, the events will be included in the cancellations. No information has been released on whether events would be rescheduled.
Visit www.cameron.edu for information about campus closings.
The Lawton Heritage Association has rescheduled its Holiday Open House that was to take place this Friday at the Mattie Beal Home because of forecasts of bad weather.
The open house - with "old-fashioned and unique Christmas decorations and samples of Mattie Beal's Favorite Cake," as well as the book signing of Lynn Musslewhite's "The Historic Mattie Beal Home: A History" ó has been rescheduled for 5-8 p.m. Dec. 12.
The Association of South Central Oklahoma Governments (ASCOG) is urging Oklahomans to adopt nursing home residents for the holidays.
Residents are often in need of toiletry products, clothing, decorations, quality time or entertainment.
Carolers and musical performances are also welcome this time of the year.
For assistance in finding a nursing home or an assisted living facility in your area, contact local ombudsman supervisors Ruben Sotelo, sote_ruascog.org, or Heather Sladek, slad_heascog.org. They may also be reached by calling 1-800-658-1466.
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