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Brandon Clark Band
Stars & Stripes
When looking at Oklahoma music, there are very few artists that showcase what the entire scene encompasses as well as the Brandon Clark Band. Fiercely independent and tireless, the group has played an average of 125 shows per year since forming in 2005 while band leader Brandon Clark adds an additional 175 show per year, on average, as a solo artist. As a result, Clark and his companions have become one of the most popular bands around, building a loyal following statewide and throughout the region.
In its hometown of Tulsa, Brandon Clark Band has won the “Best Red Dirt” category in the annual ABoT (Absolute Best of Tulsa) music awards for three consecutive years while Clark has won “Artist of the Year” honors two years running, a testament to the hard work that they’ve put in both individually and as a band. Of course, there’s an irony in winning an award as a Red Dirt band, since the group doesn’t necessarily consider itself part of that genre.
Classifying the band has always been a challenge: by following their own instincts, the group blends elements of country and rock with just a touch of folk storytelling to create its own unique style. Influences ranging from Merle Haggard and Johnny Cash to Black Crowes and Roger Clyne all interweave to create a sound that best falls under and Americana banner, more by default than anything else.
“We don’t really fit into a scene,” Clark says, “So we’ve been forced to do things on our own and we like it that way. We have our hands in everything, from running our own sound to booking gigs, mostly because we don’t trust anyone else to do it for us.”
That hands on approach, combined with an engaging live show is what the band is really all about and why it has garnered such a loyal following. The group interacts with its audience in much the same way that it handles its business, making each show a personalized experience.
“People like that they can walk in the door, even if it’s their first time to see us and we embrace them like they’re our friends,” Clark says. “That’s just how our shows are – it’s all very at ease.”
According to Mark Meeker, a longtime associate who has recently become the group’s fulltime drummer, “When people walk in, the band automatically make them feel at home. It’s like you’ve walked into their living room and they’re playing and singing to you.”
Of course, part of that ease is due to the chemistry that the band has built over the long haul. Although it officially formed in 2005, Clark and bassist Darren Lightfoot have been playing together for over 11 years in various incarnations, anchoring the band as its songwriting core. Guitarist Brandon Autry joined the fold in late 2009 and has blended in seamlessly, balancing Clark’s lyrics and phrasing with melodic lead lines that make the band’s more recent material its strongest to date. With the recent addition of Mark Meeker, who stepped in as longtime drummer Heath Jacobson bowed out for other personal commitments, all of the pieces have finally come together as the band releases its latest CD and prepares to take things to the next level.
That CD, Stars & Stripes, which was released in September 2011, is being largely hailed as the best and most accurate representation of the band to date. Even the title is a nod to the band’s work ethic and constant touring, an homage to the road and long nights spent driving under the stars and following the stripes on the road. Clark’s gift for storytelling shines through on songs “Change Your Mind” and “Feels So Right” while the band fires on all cylinders to create its most complete and balanced recording yet.
As Autry explained before the CD’s release, “The rock songs are more rocking and the country songs are more country, but still, as a whole, this is a more cohesive album than anything the band has done before. The stuff that meets in the middle is where we really dig in.”
With the release of the new disc, Brandon Clark Band is gearing up to take its music outside the Oklahoma borders and expand its audience. Although it has already played occasional shows in Arkasas, Kansas and Texas, the group’s natural growth dictates that it is now time to extend its reach and expand its fan base. As a result, the band has recently entered an agreement with CTK Entertainment as its new booking agent, joining a roster that includes Back Porch Mary, The Damn Quails, Jason Eady, Dash Rip Rock, Brandon Jenkins and Mike McClure Band with an eye on expanding its reach to the north and east of the band’s home territory in Oklahoma.
Even as the band has been preparing for the release of its new CD, outside parties have taken notice of the group’s connection with its fans and the potential to grow exponentially. As a result, Brandon Autry recently signed an endorsement deal with Revered Guitars and Oklahoma based Mustang Brewery has stepped on board as a sponsor and endorsee, pairing up with a vision of expanding both the band’s and the business’ reach into new markets to the east.
Armed with a new CD and a catalog of over 40 original songs, Brandon Clark Band is poised to grow throughout the region and bring its signature blend of country and rock to a whole new audience throughout the Midwest and Southeast. If you don’t know the Brandon Clark Band yet, now is the time to make their acquaintance and join the party. Requests for music, interviews and promotional considerations can be directed to Brandon@brandclark.org while booking inquiries can be directed to email@example.com.