By Robert Faulk and Misty McBlair
Once again, the holidays are over and now people are wondering, what is there to do here in Enid for entertainment? It’s too cold to go to the park unless it’s one of those uncommonly warm January days that can’t be counted on. One can only go out to eat so much. So, what else is there to do? Here’s the answer: Live music! There are several venues in Enid that feature live music on a regular basis, and they feature all genres. From rock to blues to country, you can find it all right here in Enid, Oklahoma.
Enid has become quite the destination for live music, and a large number of bars, clubs and venues have live music regularly. You can always check out our event calendar in the print magazine and online at enidmonthly.com for the most up to date information. Here are a few of the more popular places to hear live music:
The Spot (417 N. Grand) usually has bands two nights a week, from September through June. They welcome all genres of music, especially bands from Enid and surrounding areas. “Enid has a thriving and growing live music scene, and with a little bit of cooperation between venues, it could really explode. Since we started bringing in live music about five years ago, it has really gotten better around town, and we really enjoy giving a choice for people to enjoy music,” says owner, Tim McGugin. The Spot lists all upcoming shows on its Facebook page. It is a hopping place on the weekends, and they would love to see new faces.
Shooters Lounge (1416 N. Grand) hosts one to two live events at their venue each month. They welcome diverse types of music and when they are packed you will be able to tell due to the large front parking area. According to owner Morgan Meyers, “We started doing live music again last year because I love the atmosphere and the people it brings in. We like to showcase local bands from here in Enid and surrounding areas. I want people to feel at home when they come in and I want them to have a great time and meet great people.”
You can also find a live band about once a week at The Alibi Bar (224 W. Broadway). It’s a mix of genres and another place for the discovery of new bands and live talent. Owner Jenny Beliele loves live music and wants everyone to be able to check out their favorite bands without worrying about cost. “We never charge a cover because we want people to enjoy live music, especially bands they might now see otherwise. We had The Damn Quails in, which as a small venue, we knew would lose money, but there is nothing like a great band and great fun for our customers. We book a wide range of genres, from 80’s, to blue grass, to red dirt to rock and roll and everything in between,” Jenny says. You can check out their schedule on “The Alibi” Facebook page.
Not to be forgotten are our local downtown breweries like Enid Brewing Co. and Settlers Brewing Co. who offer up some tunes with their locally brewed beer. The Elk’s Lodge, the Barn and CW Scooters (among others) are also places you can regularly catch a live show.
Enid (and the surrounding small towns) is the birthplace of many local legends that have graced stages big and small, here and elsewhere. And while some have been on the road for decades, we are home to some great up-and-coming artists too.
Wyatt Wilson began performing when he was just 9 years old as the frontman and guitar player of the local classic rock band, High Voltage. Joining him the in the band were local youngsters Koy Thomas on bass guitar and Karak Thompson on drums. Although none had reached teenage years, they played all around town including their first gig at The Cue Spot, long known around town as a great place for live music (and pool). Although he first picked up a guitar with his grandad, David McCoy, who was also a well-known local band member, he credits a lot of lessons with Riley Jantzen and later Billy Beck for helping him progress, ultimately to what he loves, the pedal steel guitar. “I was listening to Jason Boland and the Stragglers and heard a sound I liked, and I figured out it was a steel guitar,” Wilson said, “so I really looked up to Roger Ray and wanted to learn how to play. I am a lot self-taught, but Billy really helped me learn some differences in 6 string and steel.” Those lessons, along with his own hard work, have led to a potential full-time gig as a steel guitar player for Josh Ward, who is taking off in the Texas Country scene. As of this interview, Wilson is flying to Las Vegas to join Josh Ward’s band for a tryout and show at the Westgate Casino. Even if things don’t go as planned, Wilson has a full-time gig with the Lane Haas Band, and still loves playing in Enid. “I really like playing around Enid because it’s a very welcoming music community. There’s not a lot of competition between bands, and we all help each other out. Everyone is so kind and supportive, and I don’t know many other places like it,” he says. As for his favorite places to play, Wilson said he loves the Spot because they always have a good sound guy, and CW Scooters when it is full and rowdy.
Another local up-and-coming artist is Eric Layton. Eric also started performing as a pre-teen and remembers his first performance playing “Stairway to Heaven” on electric guitar at his 5th Grade graduation. At 12 years old, he joined his first band, Hidden Agenda, with the much older Rob Johnson, Daylon Caruthers and Chris Kaiser. “At first they asked me to fill in some for gigs when their guitar player couldn’t make it, but eventually I joined full-time,” Eric says, “I really look up to those guys and they gave me a chance to play with some really good musicians at a young age.” As with Wyatt, Eric remembers his first show with the band being at the Cue Spot. From Hidden Agenda, Eric has played with rock cover band Beautiful Disaster, easy listening band the ArtFarmers, and is currently with Jase Holtom (original red dirt country) and the Life Church Worship team.
Layton’s favorite local venue to play is CW Scooters. “Scooters is big and rowdy, and I feed off the crowd energy. It’s really fun,” he says, and the most people he has played in front of was last year’s tree lighting at “The One.” “The tree lighting was a huge crowd both this year and last. There were thousands of people there. It was a good time. I really like to play worship music, and really all types of music.”
Whether it be a worship service or a rowdy dive bar, Layton will be wailing out on his guitar. Ultimately, he dreams of “making it” which for him is being able to make a living as a studio or touring musician, and if we were betting, we’d have our money on it happening.
Anywhere you go in town, you are likely to see some of the same faces that really love live music. One of those regulars, Tammy Wilson (Mother of Wyatt Wilson), has been going to see live music in Enid for more than 30 years. “My dad (David McCoy) played in local bands, like Stephanie and the Driving Daddies, so almost as long as I can remember, if I could get in, I’d go watch him perform. I have always had a love for live music and really enjoy the atmosphere when a live band is playing,” Tammy says. “I like the crowd engagement from the bands, and really appreciate smaller venues because of the different experience you can have. That’s not to say I don’t appreciate big arena concerts, but the intimacy a small venue has to offer is really cool. I also really like that in a town like Enid, you get to know the people and the local performers and see a lot of the same people all over town at different places. It’s like our own little community and you will see someone you know at almost any local live show.”
Tammy has been pretty much everywhere and has an interesting take on the history of Enid live music; “Live music in Enid ebbs and flows. There will be periods of time where there is a lot of live music and then it seems to die down a bit. Then people start getting back into shows and there will be lots of performances again. Right now, we are in a good period, it seems. I really like watching shows at the Spot because Tim brings in a lot of really interesting bands from outside Enid, and it’s really diverse. And the sound is really good there. I’ve also been impressed with the Alibi, although it’s a small venue, Jenny does a good job having people play consistently. And Settlers (Brewing Co.) is great because its non- smoking.
The thing that Tammy likes most about the local scene is the support from not only the town, but the musicians. “The musicians here really help each other out. I just think it is really cool how much support they give to each other, whether it is helping them learn, coming to the shows or whatever, they really pay it forward. Some of the younger artists you are interviewing have been performing since they were pretty little. These older people really have helped them every step of the way.”
Anywhere there is live music, you are likely to see a trademark top hat and a big smile belonging to local live music aficionado Dallas Morris. Morris has been enjoying live music in Enid since 1964. His grandfather and mother were ragtime piano players, and he performed as a folksinger in the 60s. “Live music watching has been my full-time job since I retired from Halliburton in 1991,” Morris said, “I’ve seen hundreds or thousands of local shows. I really like the skill of the different musicians around here. I will watch almost anything, besides rap, and as long as they are good, it doesn’t matter what genre it is.”
One of Morris’ favorite shows from the past was seeing Mel McDaniel (Baby’s Got Her Blue Jeans On) at the old Bamboo Club and he really misses the Cue Spot. “The Cue Spot leaving left a big hole. It was a great atmosphere, had someone playing almost every Tuesday night and the audience was knowledgeable and loved good music,” he remembers.
Morris echoes Wilson’s thoughts about the up-and-down nature of live music in the community, “There are times when its really good and times when it isn’t. Covid really hurt a lot of venues and musicians as they need crowds, but it seems like it has really come back pretty good right now. There are a lot of good places to see live music. I really enjoy the Alibi, the Spot and the Barn and Van Damage, Beautiful Disaster and the Lane Haas Band are some of my local favorites to go see,” he said.
There you go. Great food, friendly faces, great atmosphere, and a great time with friends and acquaintances, not to mention great drinks. Head out to one of these local venues this month and start your new year out with a bang and maybe a few new friends and great memories. Support your local businesses and artists!