Bo Phillips Says ‘Shame on You’ to His Hometown of Stillwater, Oklahoma
Bo Phillips has been working diligently to build his fan base in the Red Dirt and Texas Music Scene for a few years now. His work was awarded earlier this year when he enjoyed his very first No. 1 single courtesy of “Red Dirt Girl,” not long after he stole the show when he sang it live at The Texas Regional Radio Music Awards. But now Phillips is expressing his frustrations with his hometown of Stillwater, OK — and it seems people are agreeing with him.
First of all, let me say I’ve never been to Stillwater. Pretty much all I know about it is the amazing music that has come out of it. Does Bo (whose brother is Stoney LaRue) have valid points? I don’t know, you let me know.
Here’s what the normally light-hearted, fun-loving singer posted on his Facebook page. And if you don’t LIKE him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter, do so, he’s hysterical and brutally honest. OK, here it is:
“Shame on you Stillwater…
15 years ago, some fellas named Cody, Jason, Mike, and Stoney played in a little town called Stillwater. They didn’t know it, but they were part of a movement … a musical revolution. There was a handful of fans who went and saw them every night they played, which was pretty much every night. They played on the Strip, at Joe’s , the Harbor, Stonewall, and on big nights, the Tumbleweed. But they all moved… mostly out of state. Everyone scratched their chins and wondered why they would do such a thing.
Then they came back to town occasionally to play. The old crowd came back to see them, with friends, and new fans. They crowds got bigger; so big, in fact, that they could charge more for tickets. That’s a good thing. Props for their hard work. But then they quit coming back as often.
Then there was a lull in the music scene in Stillwater. Stillwater became a musical ghost town. At one time, you could walk up and down the Strip on ANY night of the week and hear acoustic guitars and see people sitting on barstools singing their songs and popular covers to varying sizes of audiences. But then… they all moved, mostly to Texas. All of a sudden there was NO live music on the Strip. The legendary Wormy Dog shut its doors and moved to OKC.
Then a new venue opened up on the Strip; Roosters. They had a passion for live music and a passion to revitalize the music scene in Stillwater. They did a good job, to;, bringing in acts from Texas, while also fostering new, local talent. Funny thing is… they actually made money doing it too! It was a win-win situation. Alas, due to lease issues a couple of years later, Roosters had to close it’s doors. And, you guessed it… ghost town, again.
Chirp, chirp, chirp… That’s the sound of the Strip now. That and top 40 songs played from a jukebox or a pirated version of some DJ software. Willie’s is trying to maintain music, Eskimo Joes and Ell’s never waivered and kept providing music… But to dwindling crowds…
I used to blame the bars for not providing music. I blamed them for not being leaders and making live music expected. But here lately, it’s become so clear. It’s the fans. Wade Bowen played a few months ago to about 150 people at the Tumbleweed. Really, people? John Cooper and I played at Eskimo Joes to 8 people. 2 drove from Tulsa, and 4 just happened to be there. College Days was a joke, too. This is EXACTLY the inspiration for the line “Up there where the dirt was blown from has all but lost the dream.” Only now, I seem to be the only artist ballsy enough to call people out. But you know what, the town needs called out. It needs to realize that me and my compadres in the scene play hundreds of venues a year. And Stillwater is the ONLY college town that we can’t expect live music on weekends at a bare minimum. A major wake up needs to happen, or even fewer artists will want to come play here. It’s my home, and right now, I’m ashamed at it.
Huge thanks to those who continue to support live music in Stillwater. And I mean that from the bottom of my heart. But to those of you who have the “I’ll just catch them next time” mentality, shame on you. Shame on you, big time. We can drive 5 hours south and pack a venue out with no problem. But my hometown… the HOME of Red Dirt Music can’t muster enough interest to pull 10 people to see John f’n Cooper? If you work, I totally understand. I worked a job 30 miles away and still came out to play at night. If you’re broke, I totally understand. But it was a free show, last night. If you have to get drunk to enjoy music, then you’re not in it for the right reason. Don’t get me wrong, drinkin makes everything more fun, but it ain’t mandatory to a good music night.
I might lose fans from this rant. I’m ok with that. I feel that the true fans are gonna get what I’m saying and not get butt-hurt about it. I might lose friends, but honestly, if you’re offended by my words, you probably weren’t a friend to start with.
What I’m saying is this… Musicians don’t leave Stillwater… They’re pushed away. I can only pray that the mentality changes, or the sound of chirps will be the only sound heard in the town that started it all.”
So what say you, Stillwater?