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Smokey Motel drops into studio

When Steven and Isaiah Carter arrived for this week's taping of "Today's Best Soundemonium!" with Steve Carr, a.k.a. Steve-O, and the columnist, they turned Studio Blanket/Tent Fort into a real "Studio of Brotherly Love." But they did it with a certain sense of style befitting a band named Smokey Motel.

Veterans of national touring for most of the past decade, the two young brothers said in unison that Thursday's show was a milestone for this incarnation: "This is the first Smokey Motel interview." It was a pretty good one.

Steven Carter, 23, and brother Isaiah, 21, hail from Davidson, but they call Lawton home these days. In the band, the elder brother handles guitar/vocals and the younger assists with vocals while also laying down percussion. Together, they're creating some innovative alternative rock that is steeped in modernity but imbued with 1980s and '90s roots  think The Pixies meets Foster the People. Their performance of the recently released single "I Die," with father Senior on bass, rocked my socks. I can't wait for the next "Mix Tape" edition of the show to let you hear the powerhouse "Where The Hell Are You." They're something special. 

A lot has happened since "I Die" was released on Oct. 31. Check out the single's official video: nSmokey Motel  "I Die"

"The single is doing a lot better than we expected," Steven Carter said. "It's gotten over 10,000 (on Soundcloud) plays in just the month it's been out."

Thanks to the internet, the new band caught the attention of a popular music blog in the United Kingdom. That led to someone from Communion Records reaching out. 

"Communion emailed me last week and want us to come up to New York City for a few days to perform a showcase and meet everyone," Steven Carter said. "So now we're just practicing, getting ready for that while trying to put out more music. It's been a pretty hectic month."

With a band named after a notion found in a Kings of Leon video, imagination plays a big part in the Carter brothers' creativity. Their father weaned the boys on 1980s hair metal, so music has always been there, and they've also found their own influences.

The elder brother had his first guitar when Isaiah Carter was nearing his 10th birthday. The younger said his dad called him one day and asked him what his favorite color was. He replied "red" and when their dad arrived home, he had a red drum set for Isaiah. Original music was composed within days. 

"It's like the American band dream," Isaiah Carter said. "We can depend on each other."

Growing up in a community of 300 allowed creativity the opportunity to alleviate boredom. From their bedrooms, rock and roll called. The internet helped them find a world of music only fingertips away. It also allowed them to connect with an underground music community that allowed them opportunity to travel the country performing with No Render. The isolation they felt in those beginnings allowed the opportunity to develop something unique and bigger. But home will always be home. 

"I don't think we'll ever not claim it," Steven Carter said. "This is where we grew up." 

The Carters began No Render and within their first month played a battle of the bands at a Vernon, Texas, bar. "We placed third," Steven Carter said. "It wasn't bad for children."

The brothers found something special from memories of that group's lengthy run, something that makes the early the 20-somethings nostalgic.

"It was a lot of fun playing shows for kids," Steven Carter said. "It was a system of kids playing for kids at shows put on by kids."

Now, with Smokey Motel, very real adult possibilities await. The close-knit pair said they feel ready to face anything the future holds for them. Experience breeds more inspiration. You can catch their first official show Jan. 26 at The Opolis in Norman. It's a great venue, and this band will join some hallowed names to perform there. 

Keep up with the band via Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. I'll be checking back with them following the New York City showcase on March 26 at The Rockwood and let you know how it went. 

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It's not too early to start getting in the season's spirits and ready to deck the halls with Dave Laurence & Friends Christmas Show. Slated for five hours between 4-9 p.m. Dec. 9, the engaging musician (and a slew of musical buddies) will be joining to play Christmas music at Outlaw Bar-B-Q, 23485 Oklahoma 49. Restaurant patrons will be invited to join them in singing Christmas carols. Musicians are welcome to perform. Call Outlaw Bar-B-Q, 529-2227, for details.

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The 2018 Grammy Award nominees were announced this week and, while it's overall the year of hip hop, it's the albums up for top of the year in the rock category that have me excited. I am a rock and roll kid, after all. Two albums reviewed in the column are among the top and make a hard choice for this columnist's prognostications. Nominees Queens of the Stone Age's "Villains of Circumstance" and Mastodon's "Emperor of Sand" are joined by Metallica's "Hardwired ... to Self-Destruct," Nothing More's "The Stories We Tell Ourselves," and The War on Drugs' "A Deeper Understanding." I reviewed the first two on the list and am having a hard time choosing. I admit to leaning toward "Villains of Circumstance" with this one. It's innovative, modern and still oh so rock and roll. Mastodon's been there before and I think its track "Sultan's Curse" deserves the win for its best metal performance nod. 

I'm leaning toward either Lady Gaga or Bruno Mars for a lot of the pop categories and wouldn't bet against Jay-Z for any/all of his seven nominations. However, I'm hoping Childish Gambino gets his Grammy due. And, although it's an odd setting, I hope Leonard Cohen's "You Want It Darker" gets the trophy for best rock performance  just because. 

The 60th Annual Grammy Awards are slated for Jan. 28 at New York City's Madison Square Garden.

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Sunlander and Oberon will have their split-CD release for "The Divide" Friday night, and it's going to be a good one. Ashen Verdict from Dallas will open the show around 9 p.m. at the Railhead Saloon, 909 S. Sheridan. The club is 21 and older to enter, but there's no cover charge. Be sure to pick up a copy of the new album and some merchandise. The packaging matches the sonic superiority of the recordings contained.

I'll bring back photos and more in next week's column. 

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Smokey Motel's visit for this week's "Today's Best Soundemonium!" with Steve Carr, a.k.a. Steve-O, and yours truly offered a really good time. The Carter brothers are fun and super talented. They're an example of the best this column and the show can do: Present some of the best rising talent borne from Southwest Oklahoma. Everybody, keep making music and sharing your art.

Jokey McJokerson had a ghoulishly magical treat for this week's joke setup. Here's the punchline:


Turn your radio dial to Magic 95.3 FM Radio around 4:25 p.m. each Thursday or stream the half-hour show online:, on the Apple or Android apps or on the TuneIn app, or: Again, tune in Thanksgiving day at 4 p.m. to catch a special edition featuring some amazing performances by local acts. 

Great News Alert!  Beginning Sunday (and every Sunday), the current week's show will replay at 6 p.m., followed by the previous week's show. I hope you tune in as big things continue in our second year. 

Visit, "like" ("love") and follow our Facebook page :// 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 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

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