By Michael Strüb
If you were fortunate enough to make it out for Hobson Hops this year, it was easy to see what direction this wonderful town of ours is headed. I don’t think I saw one sour face. However, I very much DID see town pride, looks of enlightenment and a few “aha” moments on people’s faces. The efforts of all the hard-working people behind the scenes at Sapulpa Main Street, City of Sapulpa and Sapulpa Chamber of Commerce are starting to spill into fruition the tangible feeling of a true Destination Spot.
Skeptical of a 4:00 pm start time on a Friday, all was set up, ready to go and the music actually started on time. I thought for sure there’d be a “Let’s hold off until more people get here.” Nope. The party kicked off, 4oclock high, with the likes of JW Francis. Now. If you’re not familiar with JW Francis, find his videos on social media, because words do no justice. Francis is a one-man, hip-shaking pogo party with every bit the stage presence of a full band. Kid you not. While a pretty good size crowd was scattered throughout the parking lot on blankets or in lawn chairs. Many more are already in lines at booths and food trucks. From the stage, JW starts calling out names and engaging the crowd. A perfect opener for this event, JW Francis verbally reached out and pulled everyone into his personal party space. This perma-grinning pogo-er immediately set the mood for the fun evening ahead.
Try and be in the same zip code as this guy without a smile on your face. And can you say Merch? This guy has more merchandising than some internationally touring artists. Honestly, I think he should add self-branded Hula hoops as well. Find his videos. Better yet, go see him perform.
With very little downtime, next up was local favorite Denise Hoey with Accompanist David John. That warm voice laid over that smooth guitar pretty much sends out a sultry date night vibe for any occasion. With such a huge variety of hits in her song list, Denise Hoey is always sure to please. Making great use of that loop pedal, David throws a little extra sauce atop his rhythm tracks with Lindsey-style thumb pulling and fingerpicking. I think my favorite part of this particular set was when they went into Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean. Have you ever heard a guitarist throw soft, yet expressive harmonics into a solo on Billie Jean? Not THIS guy.
I’ve never heard the ‘sexy version’ either, but that’s what Denise made it! Whew Gurl! The SUN ain’t even down yet! Bouncing between full voice and falsetto with a little “woo!” in there?!? #getsome! Denise Hoey! Truly underrated. Her performance schedule is easily found on her facebook music page.
Next up, Brandon Jackson, who’d been pulling double duty as Emcee for the event. This is the first full band of the evening. Even though a three-piece, Brandon Jackson sounded great and full. Brandon did a great job of holding down both lead and rhythm parts as a guitarist. You wouldn’t even think another guitar in the mix would make a bit of difference. Speaking of guitars. I’m not big into playing hollow-bodies myself, but wow. What a beautiful guitar. My Wife thought it was black, but it looked a deep dark green to me. The color of my envy.
I enjoyed Brandon Jackson’s set. It was my first time hearing the band. Great catchy, driving songs, yet still dynamic. Let’s say I’m taking a freight train out for a Sunday drive in the country. This is what I’d be listening to. Windows down. Sporadically tuggin’ on the horn along with the drum fills. That’s the best I can put it right now. Check out Brandon Jackson on Spotify.
Alright. Another quick stage reset. Night’s still running smooth. Props to Ken Lewellen again for running a tight and organized platform. Up next, the Headlining act: The Brothers Moore. I’ve only seen pictures, heard they’re working with some heavy hitters, and something about Dolly Parton. Cool outfits, great hats. Lotta hair. OOP! That was HIS guitar! Gibson Hollow Body belongs to a Moore Brother. He shares. Nice guy. We should be friends.
** insert sound of my face being ripped off**
Holy beards and sunglasses! What a wall of sound!
Great musicianship and great timing breakdowns! They get the crowd warmed up with some well-known favorites, then wow the crowd with some great originals.
No over-complicated chord progressions or time changes, but much livelier than three-chord blues jams (nothin’ wrong with blues jams). Let’s call it a perfect weathered Friday Night Boot Scootin’ music. I mean heck, four songs in, the beer is running out and the food’s about gone. Nothing left to do but boot scoot! Well, except for the guy that fell off his bucket. He took his bucket and left when the well went dry. Sad to see him go too. He was the friendliest one in the crowd for a bit.
Okay. It took some Rolling Stones, but now the dance floor is hoppin’.
They should totally call this Hobson Hops. Heh.
Holy buckets! I just got an ear whiff of five-part harmonies! We got the Red Dirt Beach Boys up in hrrr!
About ten songs in and they break into another original with full band harmonies and SUPER cool breakdowns. Just slipped a key change into a bridge and back out again. BUY THESE GUYS’ RECORD! I would Love to work with The Brothers Moore.
Maybe we can get a sit down with them for a ‘Home Grown’ article. I’m officially a fan.
This is the biggest Sapulpa turnout I’ve seen since the Jingle Bell ticket draw, pre-Covid. Such a great atmosphere. Alley looks great. Tons of foot traffic between the Chute, Crossroads Cookery, and Hobson Hops. OOP! I just saw Bucket Guy. Hands raised in the middle of the dance floor. The Brothers Moore just went into The White Stripes ‘Seven Nation Army’ and the dance floor jus’ got turnt.
Hobson Hops began with, and is ending with pogoing.
Meanwhile, on Dewey, the looks of mind-blown wonderment on the little ice cream-smeared faces staring up at the decorations of the Chute is precious.
If this is any representation of what direction our town is headed… I’m excited.