Every year, as Blackwatch Studios hosted the final performances of the Norman Music Festival on their massive outdoor stage at 107 W Comanche, Jarod Evans would be exhausted, having worked nearly round the clock to keep the music, lights and sound going for three days.
And yet, he never wanted it to stop. Evans fed off the energy coming from the great acts that played the stage, including Colourmusic, Jacob Abello, Dead Sea Choir, Sherree Chamberlain and Beau Jennings and the Tigers. He thought that the Blackwatch Stage experience could be extended beyond the festival.
But there needed to be more to it. There needed to be a direct connection between what he and Blackwatch co-owner Chad Copelin do every day in their studio and what thousands of people heard at the festival. It needed to be an event that showcased both sound and vision, something that Evans and Copelin have done since opening the studio in the mid-'00s.
“Honestly, every year after Norman Music Festival is over, I think, man, we've got these connections to production and obviously we have this studio,” Evans said. “Every year, I want to take it a step further and make it a more frequent occurrence. I thought that if we found a way to record and film it, we can focus more on the production side of the event, which will be essentially eternal.”
So at 9 p.m. Saturday in the alley just north of the studio, Evans and Copelin launch Live @blackwatch, a monthly concert experience that will continue to resonate through streaming video and online single releases after the last sounds ring out of the amps. ADDverse Effects, the Norman-based hip-hop band that made its festival debut at the Blackwatch Stage this year, will kick off Live @blackwatch. And after the show, Evans and Copelin will edit video of the band's performance, mix down the recording and release both a video of the concert for streaming and a downloadable single one week later.
Evans and Copelin are currently recording ADDverse Effects' debut album, and between the results he's getting in the studio and the buzz surrounding the group's Norman Music Festival performance, Evans said there was no question about which act would launch Live @blackwatch.
Fronted by lead rapper Joshua Azzam Rehanek, the group features live instrumentation and pulls inspiration from organic-leaning hip-hop acts such as the Roots and Mos Def. The band's original music and its knockout cover of OutKast's “B.O.B. (Bombs Over Baghdad)” were a huge hit with the festival crowd.
“As soon as I heard these guys, I knew they had potential for big things,” Copelin said. “Good live hip-hop seems to be hard to come by, but these guys have one of the best live sets I've seen in quite a while. They're just one of those bands that wins over any crowd that's in front of them.”
Evans' current plan is to announce the next Live @blackwatch performance as soon as the ADDverse Effects performances hit the studio's Web site, blackwatchstudios.com, with another concert to coincide with University of Oklahoma classes starting up in August. And if all goes well, Live @blackwatch could continue after the outdoor festival season ends.
“Ultimately, I envision making the announcements once a month, and we're thinking about moving forward into the fall, looking at having some more intimate performances in the studio — acoustic performances,” Evans said. “That's something we're sort of brainstorming right now.”