For singer-songwriter Ali Harter, being a musician was always what she wanted to do with her life. "I liked the way the lifestyle looked," Harter said. "I eventually learned the business aspects of being a musician and I liked the challenge of that too. Eventually, you get so involved and so much time goes by that you can't think of yourself as being anything else. It's pretty consuming." Harter will perform twice at the Mayor's Red Dirt Ball this weekend in Medicine Park. A Choctaw native, the cobblestone community is in Harter's backyard. She said she loves coming to the resort town because it offers an environment like no other and the people are one of a kind. "There are no other people in the world like the 'parkies,'" she said. "It's such a change of head space to be out there. People are grateful and respectful and are just good people. I consider a great deal of them my friends." The 27-year-old singer first signed with a label in 2006, but had been singing since she was 15 years old. She said she was just pursuing a passion to sing. After two albums and a calendar booked with performances, she's now recognized both nationally and internationally. Looking back at when she first got her feet wet in the scene more than seven years ago, Harter said she never thought she would be as successful as she's become, but she knew she wanted to try. "Little Mafia is not a 'label' the way people tend to think of the word 'label,'" she said. "They are definitely a cog in my machine, but I knew I would have to keep working to attain more than what I had."
Dig out the dancing boots, jeans and cowboy hats, because the Mayor's Red Dirt Ball is around the corner. The annual Memorial Day music festival was started by Medicine Park Mayor Dwight Cope, who has embraced music and shared it with the community. This year, about 15 bands and singers will perform on three stages across Medicine Park, with the kickoff party at 7 p.m. Friday at the Main Stage. Cope said he's proud of the gamut of talent the town was able to secure for this year's festival. "You look at the list of who's playing and there's not a lot of big names," he said. "But every one of them are great performers and they've got a lot of talent. I think that's what's more important. I'd rather have tremendous talent than big names." Oklahoma native singer-songwriter Ali Harter will lead off the kickoff party. The Quaker City Night Hawks, based in Fort Worth, Texas, will perform at 10 p.m. Saturday. Festival favorites The Bobby Dale Band and The Damn Quails are also scheduled to perform. Cope said the music this weekend is something that won't be heard at any other Medicine Park festival.
It's not just about accepting a new job for Shelley Lytle.
For her, becoming the new managing director of the Lawton Community Theatre means much more. She said it is her chance to give back to her community, help a major cause and simply do what she loves.
It is a dream come true. "I feel great about it," Lytle said. "For me, it's an incredible honor for me to come back to Lawton, establish myself in my hometown and be able to serve my community in this way. My solid ambition in life is to be happy, and a big part of what makes me happy is feeling that I'm making a positive difference in this world. There is no place I wanted to do that more than here."
The theater's board of directors unanimously voted to offer the position to Lytle on Monday. On June 17 she will succeed Cynthia Kent, who has served the theater as managing director since 1993.
"Cindy's shoes aren't easy to fill; she's good at what she does," Lytle said. "I have confidence in my abilities. I feel honored to be able to take her place."
The new managing director has her roots in Lawton. She has been involved in LCT productions since she was a teenager.
"Before I could drive, I was coming to LCT," she said. "I was doing tech work mostly, and I was able to spend time watching and observing."
The time spent at LCT made a big impact. She said it gave her the inspiration to continue to focus on her passion for the theater arts. After graduating from Lawton High School, she went on to earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Oklahoma's School of Drama before returning home.
"When I was in my early 20s, I was able to do a few shows here ... I even got my first paid directing job here," she said. "The theater has grown. I've seen a lot of changes here."
School is almost out and summer break is looming. Now what? Several organizations will hold a variety of camps for residents in the Lawton-Fort Sill Area. From acting to hiking, many camps are ready to keep students busy throughout summer 2013.
FINE ARTS Children's Summer Art Camp. 10 a.m. to noon every Thursday during June and July at the Lawton-Fort Sill Art Council Center, 1701 NW Ferris. Camp is open to all ages. Cost is $10 per child; costs for families with multiple children are $10 for the first child and $5 for each additional child. The children's camp will include painting, bead working, papier mache, coloring and various other summer crafts. Costs include a year membership to the council, cost of supplies and refreshments. Adults must remain with their children. Call Desirae at 585-7073 for information.
Teen Summer Art Camp. 10 a.m. to noon every Thursday during June and July at the Lawton-Fort Sill Art Council Center, 1701 NW Ferris. Camp is open to ages 13 and older. Registration fee is $10 per participant; fees for families with multiple attendees are $10 for the first participant and $5 for each additional registration. Teen camp activities include more structured lessons of painting, print making, mosaic and drawing techniques. Costs include a year membership to the council, cost of supplies and refreshments. Call Claudia at 284-9354 for information.
"Just So Stories" at the Lawton Community Theatre. Auditions for LCT's summer production will be at 7 p.m. June 10-11 at the John Denney Playhouse, 1316 NW Bell, and are open to students in grades 3-8. The production will be Rudyard Kipling's "Just So Stories" and will have evening rehearsals leading to three productions on July 12-14. Call 355-1600 for information.
Creative Expressions Summer Art Camp 2013. Four sessions will be from 8:30 a.m.-noon June 3-6 and 10-13, June 17-20 and 24-27, July 1-3 and 8-11, and July 15-18 and 22-25 at the Cameron University Department of Art, 2800 W. Gore. All sessions are open to ages 6-12; campers will be separated into four age groups. Registration is $125 per session; families will receive a 20 percent discount for each additional child. Session registrations end the day before the beginning of each session. Campers will explore creative expression through visual art. Lessons include traditional art media, such as painting, drawing, printmaking, mixed media, sculpture and paper and bookmaking, as well as creative expressions through computers and digital art. Refreshments and art supplies are provided. Participants will design an art portfolio, and digital artwork will be printed and recorded on a CD for each participant. For more information, contact the Department of Art, 581-2450; Sue Bolton at cboltoncameron.edu; or Edna McMillan at ednamcameron.edu.
Fine Arts Summer Art Institute 2013. Two sessions are scheduled: Session I Fundamentals of Drawing and Portfolio Development will be from 9 a.m. to noon Fridays on June 7, 14, 21 and 28; and Session II Digital Art and Portfolio Development will be from 9 a.m. to noon Fridays on June 5, 12, 19 and 26. Both sessions will be at the Cameron University Department of Art, 2800 W. Gore, for ages 13-18. Registration is $40 per session; registrations end the day before the beginning of each session. Session I will cover a variety of drawing assignments under the direction of professional artists. Areas of artistic development include drawing, traditional subject matter and abstraction and thematic variations. Drawing materials provided include a spiral bound sketchbook; drawing paper; ebony, graphite and charcoal pencils; and kneaded erasers. Session II will cover several graphic software programs, including Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. Students will use Wacom drawing tablets for production of computer-generated imagery. For information, contact the Department of Art, 581-2450; Sue Bolton at cboltoncameron.edu; or Edna McMillan at ednamcameron.edu.
Art & Clay Summer Enrichment Camp. Weekly day sessions from 10 a.m. to noon each Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from June 4 through Aug. 8 at A Pigment of Your Imagination, 10 N. Sheridan Road. Ages 6-16. Projects will focus on using bisque, glass and canvases with a different theme each week. Registration fees are $30 per day or $80 for the week. Special arrangements and discounts are available. Call 248-2700.
Sherri's Dance Center Summer Dance Camps. Two sessions are available: June 3-June 21 and July 8-25 at 2112 SW E. Ages 3-adult. Registration fees are $95 per session for school-age children and $150 per session for preschool children. Visit www.sherridance.com or call 357-3886.
A Lawton mother and her two daughters won national titles for Today's American Woman 2013 during a pageant last week in Greenville, S.C.
Roseanna Hamilton was crowned as National Curvy and Classy 2013 and also won a Ms. Ambassador title. Her daughters also earned titles at the national level: Tia Shelton as Curvy Teen Ambassador 2013 and Sasha Shelton as National Today's American Woman Miss 2013.
Each of them achieved national titles after winning titles at the state level. Hamilton was crowned as Curvy and Classy Ms. Oklahoma while Sasha Shelton was Miss Oklahoma Today's American Woman and Tia Shelton was Curvy Teen Oklahoma.
The women competed against other contestants from across the nation for an overall title in categories such as beauty, talent, photogenic glamour and fitness.
"For me it seemed like a coming out party to show everyone you want the title," said Tia Shelton.
"It's a huge sisterhood of women in all sizes and ages, and having a great experience of uplifting and encouraging each other," Sasha Shelton said. "Every lady in each division walked away with some title." Those titles included first runner-up, Ambassadors, Division of the Winners, Queen of Queens, Royal Ambassador and Queen of States.
"I enjoyed the pageant. It gave every woman a voice about their platforms," Hamilton said. "It was very uplifting to see everyone pulled together, yet being competitive."
Hamilton said she and her daughters have new titles following their winning of national honors.
"We are no longer called 'The Oklahoma Triple Threat' we are now the Senior Queens," she said.
That's what the heads of the Japanese video game giant are asking themselves as they watch the sales continue to stumble following its November launch. The NPD tracking group released the April sales for the industry Thursday evening and it doesn't paint a very rosey picture for the next-gen console. Microsoft's stalwart Xbox 360 sold 130,00 consoles nearly 45 percent below the same month last year. It was the highest selling console of the month, even with that abysmal total. Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter estimates around 55,000 Wii U consoles were sold during the month. Nintendo's predecessor console, the "dead" Wii, sold an estimated 70,000 consoles.
These totals are absolutely embarrassing for the Mario house even more so coming off the breakout success of the Wii, which went on to move 100 million consoles worldwide faster than even the Playstation 2. Many fans touted how the Wii U was still tracking ahead of the Playstation 3 in terms of units sold post-launch, but it has since fallen way behind. That's also not considering the Playstation 3 launched in 2006 at $599. The price of the current two Wii U units are $299 and $349 as much as $150 more than certain Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 units.
Despite releasing seven years after the Xbox 360, the Wii U still has a similar amount of horespower. Ports from some of the most popular titles last year including "Batman: Arkham City," "Call of Duty Black Ops II" and "Assassin's Creed III" were absolutely despicable on the new console. The only aspect that sets it apart from Microsoft and Sony's offerings is the touch-screen controller and off-television play capabilities. Much like the motion control capabilities of the Wii, Nintendo opted out of the technological arms race for a "different" approach to designing a game console. But whereas motion control took off in popularity creating an entirely new demographic of "casual" gamers and spurring Nintendo's two competitors to offer similar gimmicks of their own the tough-screen capabilities of the Wii U have been met with apathy across the board.
Nintendo is struggling to support a console that is at best on a similar power level as its two competitors, while being as much as $150 more expensive. But the company is also in a serious bind. For the first time in Nintendo's existence, it's selling a console at a loss. It can't cut the price of the Wii U, similar to what it did with the 3DS following its lukewarm reception in 2011, because it would incur even sharper losses. It's already released a "New Super Mario Bros." title at launch, which has an impressive near 100 percent attach ratio. But it's simply not moving systems like the Nintendo DS, Wii and 3DS versions did with their respective hardware.
During its "Nintendo Direct" online conference Friday, president and CEO Satoru Iwata said the company will discuss the Wii U versions of its popular titles, like "Mario Kart," "Super Smash Bros." and a new 3D "Mario" title at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in June. But are these games going to be enough to salvage the system? Both the Nintendo 64 and the Gamecube were bolstered with some of the most impressive first-party software lineups of any console ever. Titles like "The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time," "Super Mario 64" and "Goldeneye 007" defined many childhoods on the N64. The Gamecube, which sold less than 30 million consoles in its lifetime, had one of the greatest games ever made, "Metroid Prime," alongside classics like "Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door" and "Pikmin."
The Wii U needs games plain and simple. But as efficient and excellent as Nintendo's first party output is, it cannot sustain a console on its own. But third parties have continued a steady exodus away from Nintendo consoles since the N64. Even with the Wii's dominating sales, it didn't receive many major titles that the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 did. It appears now, despite an initial push at launch, third parties have all but abandoned the struggling system.
A local hip hop artist is rising up and starting to feel he fits a destiny prophesied by his uncle as a teenager.
Adot Blount is bringing philosophical poetry to bear with phat beats and sonic sensibility to make his mark.
"I just open my mouth and let God come out," Blount said. "How can you critique an art form you know nothing about?"
It all came from turbulent beginnings. At 14, Blount witnessed his mother stab his father. Taking promise from the pain, the subject fills the honest lyricism of the song "You Left Me" on his "Swag Heaven" CD. He's been rapping since he was 6 and recorded his first song on a Fisher Price microphone/tape player. He then took the tape around to all his neighbors for them to hear. Following the stabbing, things changed.
Blount and his brother were put into foster care. That is where he honed his rapping skills. After school was the hard part of the day, he said. He found solace and comfort in The Boys & Girls Clubs, as well as through Jay-Z's foundation, The Shawn Carter Foundation, set up for kids in his situation who want to go to college or into internships. Those two causes remain near and dear to his heart because that is where he developed his mantra.
"If you love it, focus on it and give it your all," Blount said.
Blount's publicist, partner and muse, Nysuttet, said he uses his skills as a tool to help people to have fun, have a voice and feel good.
"But most of all, he uses his music and spotlight to always encourage people to live their dreams," Nysuttet said.
Blount credits his late uncle with helping him find that confidence. As they passed a radio station, he encouraged the then-17-year-old Blount to see if they would play his music. They did and Blount began to trust in the lessons taught by his elder.
Blount "is a big spirit that is all about living life full out and achieving one's dreams," Nysuttet said.
To give back to those who believe in him, Blount is having "The Remix Show" May 24 at the Acoustic Rock Coffee House, 1408 NW 15th. Doors open at 9 p.m. and he performs at 10:30 p.m. He'll be spinning remix versions of fan favorites from "Swag Heaven" and his latest CD as a thank you to his fans by giving them something familiar and fresh at the same time, Blount said. With the city's recent violence, Blount said the show is also a chance to give local high school grads a chance to have a "safe, yet still cool party alternative" that night so admission is free. Any donations taken that night will go to The Boys & Girls Clubs and The Shawn Carter Foundation.
A new, self-titled CD is slated to drop in June. Self-produced, Blount has been hustling his albums at shows and via his website, www.blackmagikentertainment.biz, and is preparing for a fall tour. He's been receiving radio airplay that has garnered interest from major record label representatives, Nysuttet said.
Harnessing his influences which range from Jay-Z, Tupac and Biggie Smalls to Stevie Wonder, Bob Marley, Stephen Tyler and Fela Kuti Blount is making music with a voice all his own. His music harnesses the best elements for all its samples and his voice is singular and strong. A gifted writer, fun and social consciousness fit seamlessly as subject matter. He can tell street stories in a way that doesn't glamorize but, instead, deals with decisions and their consequences without being preachy or heavy handed.
"I am the new, improved Jay-Z, the Barack Obama of the industry," Blount said with a tone of sly confidence.
You can follow Blount on Twitter: A.ADotBlount, or learn more via his Facebook page.
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An old friend from Apache, Kerry Myers, stopped by to catch up the other day. Myers, a Cameron graduate, has moved to Oklahoma City, where she's an all-around Renaissance chick (social media strategist, columnist, ad sale, concert promotion, etc.) who heads up Street Team Oklahoma. With a click of her smartphone, she introduced me to a cool little duo out of Oklahoma City that people are going to be hearing about for some time Skating Polly.
Formed following an impromptu jam session at a 2009 Halloween party, step-sisters Kelli Mayo, 13, and Peyton Bighorse, 17, released their second CD, "The Lost Wonderfuls," in April. Produced by punk rock icon Exene Cervenka and mixed by Flaming Lips drummer Kliph Scurlock, the album offers a reverential return of punk rock riot ggrrrls to the rock 'n' roll fold. It's been a while since Veruca Salt was all over the radio. Influenced by Babes in Toyland, Bikini Kill, Regina Spektor and Nirvana, the band offers some loud punk-sounding songs and some quiet songs too. Hearing their music for the first time reminded me of virgin ears indulging in The Pixies or early Nirvana.
The two largely self-taught musicians (Bighorse plays guitar, Mayo plays a guitar/bass hybrid called a basitar, and both girls play drums and piano) craft catchy melodies with a stripped-down aesthetic that combines brutally in-your-face moments followed by tender and fun sensations. They're catching on and have opened for punk legend Mike Watt as well as alterna-icons Deerhoof and Band of Horses. The band recently returned from an opening slot for The Flaming Lips at the prestigious South By Southwest Music Festival in Austin, Texas,a nd are planning an upcoming tour.
"The musicians we're most inspired by are the ones who keep on going and going, who devote their entire lives to coming up with new and different stuff," Mayo said in a statement. "A lot of times at our shows people will come up to us and tell us, 'Keep on doing what you're doing, don't ever stop,' and we're just like, 'Yeah we weren't planning on ever stopping.'"
I highly suggest searching YouTube for their videos for "Placer," "Kick" and the new single, "Lost Wonderfuls." You can learn more about the band on its Facebook page. I plan on catching up with the girls soon for an expanded interview and full review of the CD.
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Don't forget a couple of great live music opportunities this weekend in Southwest Oklahoma.
Tonight, from 9 p.m. to midnight, The Brothers DuPree will take their classic sound down to Devol for a show at the Comanche Red River Casino.
Legendary songwriter Glenn Tubb will perform an acoustic show at 2 p.m. Sunday at the new building beside the New Life Assembly of God Church, 501 B in Cache. Cost is $10 and children 12 and under get in free. Joining Tubb will be his wife, Dottie L. Snow, along with local artists Kris Forsyth, Ken Morrow, Lee and Julie Smith and others. Jimmy Jack Whitaker, event coordinator, will also serve as the master of ceremonies.
It's a triple-scoop day of tractors, cars, flavors
This is one cone that didn't hit the sidewalk Tuttle's 22nd annual Ice Cream Festival just avoided a meltdown that almost canceled the event.
"This year they (the Chamber of Commerce) just didn't have the manpower or volunteers needed to do it," said Tuttle City Clerk Wendy Marble, so the city took over the planning of the festival for the first time.
"We are trying to reorganize and keep it going," Marble said. "One way or another, we are going to keep it going."
Get ready for a sweet day of family-friendly fun from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, This is a triple-scoop day featuring the ice cream fest, the Silver City Antique Tractor show and a car show. There's enough fun for everyone.
Start with the breakfast of champions at 9 a.m. at the Braum's Ice Cream Tent and then do some shopping or watch local talent until noon.
That's when the Great Plains National Bank Parade starts on Southwest 4th Street. Contestants in the car show, tractor show and Ice Cream Princess Pageant will be making appearances, as will local riding groups, Scout troops and other entries.
Next, try your spoon at the ice cream eating contest at 1:30 p.m. at the Sooner State Bank stage on 3rd street.
The rules haven't been quite tacked down yet at city hall.
"We haven't decided on how sick we want everyone to get," Marble said.
The CGI 3-D Animation Contest awards ceremony will be from 6-8 p.m. today at the CETES Conference Center on the Cameron University campus.
The event will include food, entertainment, door prizes and cash prizes for the winning contestants.
Jim Lammers, president and CEO of Trinity Animation, will be keynote speaker. Trinity Animation develops backgrounds for the popular FX series "Archer."
The awards ceremony will be open to the public.
The CGI 3D Animation Contest is a venue for students from Cameron University and Great Plains Technology Center to showcase their creativity in the community. Students spend a semester developing and creating a project that incorporates 3D elements and animation.
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