A familiar face to fans of Southwest Oklahoma’s music festivals has returned to duty.

That’s right, Dwight Cope has returned to his role as Event Coordinator for the Medicine Park Development Authority (MPEDA).

“It’s an exciting time, building a new venue and getting back to life in a ‘normal’ world,” he said.

It’s a role Cope was built to fill. While he’s not one of the performers who graces the cobblestone community as an artist, he’s made connecting the pieces an art. Sometimes, you’re meant to dance for the music, not make it.

“As I think you know, music is my passion,” he said. “I tried to play multiple instruments in my life but found no success. I did find that I could contribute by bringing music to others and provide a process that brought new people to Medicine Park.”

Cope is the original driving force, among a host of Parkies, who took the notion of the annual Blues Festival now 16 years ago. He served as Event Coordinator until turning over duties to fellow mainstay, Rodney Whaley.

The former mayor said it was time to let go … at that time.

“It was very rewarding and fun for several years, but it became stressful, and I realized my heart was not in it. That and some personal issues at the time forced me to step aside,” he said.

“Fortunately, Rodney was in the wings having served as our emcee for years and took over the reins through a couple of turbulent years and kept the festivals alive.”

Cope said his time away wasn’t intended to be temporary.

“I actually had planned on being done with it for good,” he said. “Rodney was ‘the guy’ to take over, in my book. He did a great job and made some additions that improved the event.”

But putting on Medicine Park’s festival season that opens with Park Stomp in March and includes the Roots Ball Memorial Day weekend, Rock in the Park Independence Day weekend and the Blues Ball during Labor Day weekend during a pandemic was a handful for anyone. Coupled with the relocation of the performance stage from the Old Plantation parking annex to Hitchin’ Post Park is a lot for anyone.

Whaley has told the columnist he enjoyed his role over the past two years but, for a laid back guy who generally performs on the stage instead of books the shows, it proved a lot.

Cope said Whaley couldn’t have done a better job. It means a lot.

“The ‘events’ are like a family member to me and I was happy they were in good hands and I appreciate that,” he said. “Hopefully this year everything can get back to normal and we can all have a good time.”

In a way, the change is a friend taking back over a favor for a friend.

Cope said it took some soul searching as well as the encouragement of good friends. In the end, it took looking inward. Now, is the time, he said.

“At first, I wasn’t interested in returning but a few very persistent friends chiseled away at me to return,” he said. “After serious consideration I realized that this thing is my baby and decided to step back in. I feel revitalized and am excited to get back to bringing quality acts to the Medicine Park festivals.”

With the grounds for the new stage being readied, Cope is finding new excitement. The new venue project is another major reason he was drawn back into this, he said.

“It’s going to be very cool,” he said. “It will be located in the park backed up to the creek. The park forms a natural amphitheater setting and provides a shaded area for the viewers.”

Cope said final designs are being scrutinized and a decision will be made soon. Friends/sponsors at Coors are stepping up in a major way, he said, and are co-funding its development along with MPEDA.

And with March around the corner, Cope has already been announcing booked acts for this year’s spring kickoff. It’s a return to the best part of the Medicine Park experience, he said.

“I had missed meeting so many new and interesting people and making new friends, that’s been the highlight of the entire process over the years. This season I plan to bring back some old friends and some new friends to the stage to share with our residents and guests.”

Cope asked that if you want to become a sponsor for the new stage and/or festivals, give him at call at 580-574-9528.

Favorites not just in Medicine Park but also throughout Southwest Oklahoma and Texas, Cade Roth & The Black Sheep are knocking out a kaleidoscope of the best sounds around.

Following on the heels of the columnist’s pick for Rock Song of 2021, “Dodging Rounds,” the boys tackle some funky fun territory with their latest release “Shoulda Known Better.”

Roth said with its subject matter of wanting back a woman you’d lost, he and core members Brad “Red” Wolf on lead guitar and bass and Ryan Joyce on drums are taking it into a “fun and funky with a retro sound” that just feels good to the ears. Jayson Starkey played keys to give it that extra, the singer said

“We hope that the chorus makes the listener want to sing along and tap their foot, maybe even shake their hips,” he said. “We had the sound of bands like Little Feat and The Black Crowes in mind.”

Check out this third release from the band’s upcoming new album: https://youtu.be/6b6F1zTXX1M.

You can click on this and any other link and go straight to the video by visiting the column’s electronic edition.

Roth said a lot of their new material has a retro feel, beginning with April 2021’s stellar “Memphis”: https://youtu.be/aAWZfb1HZi8.

With that, you have to give “Dodgin’ Rounds” a listen if you haven’t: https://youtu.be/yRus2o-y07U.

Roth said a fourth single is at the ready. The band is also in the studio at Classen Recorders this weekend to knockout another four songs with producer/engineer Dwight Hamlin.

“We are hoping to put the full album out sometime this summer, and also release more singles along the way,” he said. “Like I said, the album will have a retro sound throughout, we’ve stuck with that theme on all of our art for each single, too. And we plan to press this album on vinyl to finish out that vintagesque theme.”

Roth said the band is excited about taking this music out on the road. Booking for spring and summer is underway and the calendar is filling up. You can keep up with the band and upcoming news at their website: https://www.caderothandtheblacksheep.com/.

2022 is looking to be something special, Roth said.

“I’m really excited about it,” he said. “These songs are a blast to play live and we’ve been getting a good response at shows. We may even shoot a video or two for these songs.”

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

Along with being the columnist of Soundemonium Musaic, Scott Rains is also a police, fire, Native Affairs and roller derby reporter for The Lawton Constitution.

You can email him at: scott.rains@swoknews.com.