OkSessions believes in Farm-to-Table music. Every locale has a unique musical voice. In every city, town, and suburb, stories are told and ideas are expressed that are specific to an individual’s experience. A music scene presents the stories and ideas of a community of individuals, and the lyrics, melodies, and rhythms encapsulate the spirit of a geographical region and a point in time. We aren’t saying that pop music is evil or unartistic or anything, but we are saying that high-quality local music is the most valuable type of music that exists.
Music is Language, and Language is an Oral Tradition
Technology has revolutionized learning. I can take full courses in almost any subject online, often for free. There are apps dedicated to learning music! I can learn piano from someone who lives a thousand miles away on YouTube… but I don’t.
For some subjects, online learning is great. You just need information – but music is a language, and we learn to speak in person. This means you might study some valuable information online (theory, history, studying old records), but to really play we learn music face-to-face from another human being (who in turn, learned from their own teachers and mentors). Bands write together, improvising musicians trade eights on the bands stand, and rhythm players hang out after the gig to talk about things like ‘feel’ and ‘groove.’
We all learned to speak from the village that raised us. As we grow, our patterns, accents, and dialects are shaped by the people and culture that surround us. Clearly, most people in New York City speak the same language as people in Oklahoma City, but we all know that people who have spent large portions of their lives in one of those cities will speak differently than individuals from the others.
And that is awesome! Accents and patterns of speech are interesting and amazing, and they shape the way people write novels, poetry, and professional correspondence. The analogy holds for music. In fact, it’s not an analogy at all – musicis a language, complete with vocabulary, grammar, accents, inflection, interpretation, slang, and more.
Music from all locales possesses a unique heritage to the way it sounds, feels, and represents. The major label industry creates commercially successful music that millions of people enjoy, which is beautiful and unifying in a way, but Ryan Seacrest’s Top 40 are not the musical voices of the world – local artists are.
Farm-to-table: Outback Steakhouse versus Mahogany
The pop sensations that sell out arenas around the world are well-branded, the musicians in their bands are exceptional players, the production is well-rehearsed and consistent from venue to venue, and people from city to city get the same tried-and-true experience. That music experience is a good value to audiences and is commercially successful. Just like Outback Steakhouse.
I like Outback Steakhouse. I have a good meal when I go there, the franchise is clearly successful. The menu and experience are consistent from city to city, and people across the nation have heard about Outback Steakhouse, it’s famous!
Mahogany is different. It’s smaller, the menu changes, people in a neighboring state are not likely to know what it is. A local entrepreneur put their ideas and effort into crafting the venue, sourcing the menu, and designing the decor. The experience is not consistent; the Mahogany in downtown OKC has a different vibe than the one on Memorial Rd, and the experience you have on Friday night with your family will likely be different from the experience another individual has Saturday night with her loved ones.
I don’t remember everything that happened the last time I ate at Outback Steakhouse. I don’t remember what I ate or who I was with. I don’t recall bragging about the experience to my friends the next day, but if I did, I bet they knew more-or-less what I’d experienced.
I absolutely remember my brother’s birthday dinner at Mahogany a few months ago. I remember who was there, who I sat between, the things we laughed about, and I vividly remember the incredible farm-to-table plate that they served me. I told someone about it the next day and said, ‘have you been to the Mahogany on Sheridan?’ They hadn’t. ‘It’s amazing I said, you need to find an excuse to go.’
There is nothing better than an intimate, boutique experience
I’m not saying each local restaurant is like Mahogany, and that each local show is better than a Taylor Swift concert. I am saying that the ultimate dining experience does not happen at large chain restaurants, and awesome arena shows are nothing compared to the right small venue session with exceptional professional musicians. The music is good in both situations (I think the best local instrumentalists are right on par with Taylor Swift’s guitarist), but the experience is different. There’s a closeness with other audience members that doesn’t exist in an arena. There’s a spontaneity to artistic decisions and banter that can’t sustain with a large produced concert. There are no nosebleed seats or massive crowds to battle when the music is a boutique experience. And the show is never the same twice.
OkSessions and Farm-to-Table Music
To ourcore, OkSessions loves farm-to-table music. We celebrate local voices. We don’t feel the need to do what everyone else is doing or value what everyone else values. That said, we don’t hate arena shows or pop music at all (I like Outback Steakhouse, and Justin Timberlake puts on an incredible show, I’d go again), but we know without a shred of doubt what type of live music experience we consider the most valuable. While it’s not our job to make people agree on what constitutes the best music experiences available, it is our job to invite people so they can decide if they agree with us.
We want to invite Oklahoma City to hear farm-to-table music from all sorts of artists and promoters, not just the ones we organize. We encourage y’all to get hip to the events on our calendar, where we aggregate from various musicians, venues, and promoters in the OKC music scene.