Rocklahoma has transformed itself from an '80s hair band marathon under the merciless midsummer sun into a broader mix of classic, current and up-and-coming rockers in the milder climate of Memorial Day weekend. The 2010 headliners at Pryor's "Catch the Fever” festival grounds range from alternative metalists Godsmack, Three Days Grace, Chevelle, Saliva, Sevendust and Fuel, to post-grungers Buckcherry, Theory of a Deadman and Saving Abel, with Cinderella and Tesla thrown in as a nod to the festival's past '80s hair tradition. And then there's that little ol' band of beer drinkers and hell raisers from Texas, ZZ Top, the blues-rock trio that's remained timeless and impervious to style changes and trends for four solid decades. ZZ singer and lead guitarist Billy Gibbons is still a busy man (and still crazy) after all these years, and a hot rodder who's hard to catch up to, but he granted The Oklahoman a recent e-mail interview while on the run between gigs. Q: Billy, when ZZ Top hit the 30-year mark, you celebrated the occasion with the album "XXX.” Now it's 40 years, which is even more significant. Why haven't we seen an "XL”? A: Not a bad idea, but there's a cool record label called XL, and our pal (record producer) Rick Rubin might be confused. Then again .... We'll certainly havta take it under consideration! Q: It's been seven years since the album "Mescalero” was released. Why the long silence? Some long-running bands stop writing new material at a certain point and just rely on their "classics.” I hope you're not one of those? A: We are not "one of those” in light of the fact that we're actively writing and recording new material and working with Rubin in the studio out Malibu way. Our "classics,” Wolf, Muddy, Jimmy Reed ... you know 'em well enough, yet there's always interest in stretching out into new territories. Q: A guitarist from one such band recently told me, "When you announce, 'Here's a song from our new album,' most people get up and go take a pee.” Do you agree with that statement? A: Well, ZZ does best integrating the sets suitably, and most folks seem to think everything fits together, but if you gotta go you gotta ... which brings us to "Beer Drinkers and Hell Raisers”! Q: To what do you attribute your longevity? You three guys must really like each other, being the longest-running original band lineup in all of rock 'n' roll. A: We just feel right playing with each other. I've been asked what I'd do if I were to make a solo album and, upon reflection, I came up with the idea of recruiting Dusty (Hill) and Frank (Beard) to be the rhythm section, which leads us back to the starting block! Besides, with all this practice under our collective belt, we're starting to get the hang of this. Q: You're considered by many to be the best blues guitarist working in the rock idiom. Who were some of your biggest influences, and whom do you tip your hat to among your contemporaries? A: The list is long but certainly includes Muddy Waters, Hubert Sumlin, Jimmy Reed, Buddy Guy, the Three Kings: B.B., Albert and Freddie, plus, of course, our friends Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Keith Richards. Let's not forget the likes of Josh Homme, Jack White, Luther Dickinson and a whole lot of others who have it going on right now. Q: You're also a noted gearhead. Describe your dream car (which you probably have sitting in your garage right now)? A: '58 Thunderbird finished in onyx with gold scalloping. Wait! That's our latest: Mexican Blackbird: low and loud like a great guitar. That's a pretty cush ride, but we also favor the rat rod style — a tank turret slit for a windshield and flat black monochrome. Cars are like guitars ... there's something to be said for just about any one you can come up with. Q: What advice can you offer to young, talented musicians struggling to make it big? A: You just can't lose with them blues! Q: Any advice for just plain old living, happily? A: Keep things hot if you can. Talkin' about both in terms of style and sauce. Q: You've played Oklahoma a lot, which leads me to guess you like the audiences here. Do you remember any Oklahoma shows that were particularly special? A: We played the OKC Zoo Amphitheatre a few years ago, and the audience was totally primed for that one. The animals seemed to get a kick out of it, too. Q: Can you point to a high-water mark in ZZ Top's career? Any event, honor or recording that stands out in your mind? A: There have been so many, but nothing has topped being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame by Keith Richards. We met the president of Macedonia, (who) greeted the band while touring there recently and treated us like visiting heads of state. Keith is still the king in our book. Let's rock on!
RocklahomaZZ Top will take the main stage at 10 p.m. Saturday. And 38 other bands will help keep the three-day picnic rolling. Rocklahoma was established in 2007 as a classic rock festival with the motto "life, liberty and the pursuit of rock.” Organizers teamed with AEG LIVE to revamp the 2010 event to encompass a much broader mix of classic, current and up-and-coming rock artists. Gates will open at 2:30 p.m. today and 12:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Full weekend general admission tickets are $125 plus service fees in advance and will be available for $150 at the gate. Weekend VIP ticket prices are $320 plus service fees in advance and will increase to $350 at the gate. Single-day tickets range from $40-$50 plus service fees. As part of this year's Rocklahoma festivities, the winner of the Miss Rocklahoma crown will be announced on opening day. The festival is on the grounds at 1421 W 450 Road in Pryor, 45 minutes northeast of Tulsa. Amenities include on-site camping with access to restrooms and a shower house, a general store for campers, VIP reserved seating, hospitality areas and much more. For ticket information and directions, go online to www.rocklahoma.com.
RocklahomaPerformances will be at staggered times on three stages.
FridayBlack Tora, 2:45 p.m.; Chuk Cooley and the Demon Hammers, 3 p.m.; Adelitas Way, 3:30 p.m.; New Medicine, 4:15 p.m.; New Cool World, 4:30 p.m.; Saving Abel, 5 p.m.; Janus, 5:45 p.m.; Mad Max, 6 p.m.; Buckcherry, 6:30 p.m.; The Veer Union, 7:30 p.m.; O'Dette, 7:45 p.m.; Three Days Grace, 8:15 p.m.; Richy Nix, 9:30 p.m.; Firstryke, 10 p.m.; Godsmack, 10:30 p.m.; Krank, midnight; Bad Things, 1 a.m.
SaturdayBad Things, 2:30 p.m.; Taking Dawn, 3 p.m.; Burn Halo, 3:30 p.m.; Nigel Dupree Band, 4:15 p.m.; Krank, 4:30 p.m.; Fuel, 5 p.m.; Brookroyal, 5:45 p.m.; O'Dette, 6 p.m.; Saliva, 6:30 p.m.; Like a Storm, 7:15 p.m.; Wildstreet, 7:45 p.m.; Cinderella, 8:15 p.m.; Shaman's Harvest, 9:30 p.m.; The Glitter Boys, 9:30 p.m.; ZZ Top, 10 p.m.; Problem Child, 11:30 p.m.; Gypsi Pistaleros, midnight; The Last Vegas, 12:45 a.m.
SundayNew Cool World, 2:30 p.m.; Within Reason, 3 p.m.; Aranda, 3:30 p.m.; Mad Max, 4:15 p.m.; Hail the Villain, 4:45 p.m.; Sevendust, 5:15 p.m.; Firstryke, 5:45 p.m.; Year Long Disaster, 6 p.m.; Theory of a Deadman, 6:30 p.m.; The Glitter Boys, 7:30 p.m.; Taddy Porter, 7:45 p.m.; Chevelle, 8:15 p.m.; Problem Child, 9:15 p.m.; Lacuna Coil, 9:30 p.m.; Tesla, 10 p.m.; Wildstreet, 11:30 p.m.; Bad Things, 12:45 a.m.