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Dfest: Diverse bands flock to Tulsa

Gene Triplett, Entertainment Editor Modified: July 25, 2009 at 7:06 am •  Published: July 24, 2009
TULSA — The "D” in Dfest stands for diversity, and Diversafest Music Conference and Festival founders Tom Green and Angie Devore-Green are working overtime to live up to the name’s claim.

Tulsa’s eighth annual gathering of unsigned and emerging musicians and big-time international acts will fill the canyons of downtown’s Blue Dome District with every musical genre imaginable today and Saturday, ranging from Southeast Asian pop to greasy Atlanta rock.

"It’s definitely more diverse,” Devore-Green said. "If people will research a little, they would realize just how diverse our lineup is this year.”

And a little research turns up Los Angeles-based Khmer rock band Dengue Fever (7 tonight, Triton Stage), a band fronted by Cambodian singer Chhom Nimol that started out covering pre-Pol Pot lounge pop from the vocalist’s native country before branching out to encompass more Americanized styles of ’70s rock that the Kinks’ Ray Davies recently likened to "Blondie meets Led Zeppelin.”

Guitarist Zac Holtzman, formerly of eccentric alt-country band Dieselhed, is nothing but flattered, especially considering the source.

"Oh, I love that comparison,” Holtzman said from his Echo Park, Calif., home. "That was really nice of him to say something like that. Yeah, ‘Parallel Lines’ was one of the first albums I ever kind of grew up on.”

The last time Holtzman played an Oklahoma gig, the audience pelted his band with small change, he said.

"It was kind of a rowdy crowd, and we were just the opening band, and they were kind of anxious to see Cake,” the guitarist recalled.

And as luck would have it, Holtzman precedes the Sacramento-based Cake once again, as John McCrea and company headline the day’s events at 11:30 p.m. Saturday on the Poseidon Stage, churning out their deadpan, acoustic guitar and trumpet-driven renditions of "The Distance” and "I Will Survive,” a hilarious cover that will forever overshadow the Gloria Gaynor original.

"Festivals can be a drag, but there are festivals that are exceptions to that,” McCrea said from his Oakland, Calif., home last week. "And it is quite refreshing when there’s a festival that you can tell that the organizers care about it.”

Apparently the Greens, who founded Dfest in 2001, have left just such an impression on the Cake front man, who picked the Tulsa event as one of a handful of dates to test out some new tunes.

"Right now we’re working on an album, trying to finish it up, so we really shouldn’t be doing shows,” McCrea said. "But we’re doing a few here and there, and we’re trying out a few new songs on audiences, which is actually good for the recording process, just to get us an idea of how songs work and which songs don’t work.”

Also testing new material is the Black Crowes, topping the bill at 11 tonight on the Poseidon Stage. The Atlanta-bred rockers spent three weeks last winter recording at the Woodstock, N.Y., studios of The Band’s drummer/vocalist Levon Helm, coming away with enough material to fill two albums.

"We set up not exactly like a live show, but with an audience in the room,” said Crowes’ drummer Tom Gorman from a tour stop in Dayton, Ohio.

Diversafest Music Conference and Festival
→Featuring: The Black Crowes, Cake, Gogol Bordello, Blue October, Citizen Cope, Bassnectar, Ozomatli, Metro Station, Rooney, Delta Spirit, Dengue Fever, the Cool Kids, Carney, Mates of State, Dusty Rhodes & the River Band, Ra Ra Riot, Other Lives, the Uglysuit, the Knux (more than 160 acts in all).

→Musical performances: 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. today and Saturday at indoor and outdoor venues in Tulsa’s Blue Dome District, between First and Third streets and Cincinnati and Greenwood avenues.

→Conference sessions: Noon to 5 p.m., Crowne Plaza Hotel, 100 E Second, Tulsa.

→Festival admission: One-day pass, $45 plus $5 service fee; two-day pass, $60 plus $5 service fee.

→Conference and festival admission: $111 plus $9 service fee.


Video: Watch video coverage of Dfest online at


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