The Country Music Association honored countryâ€™s top stars this week. Many of today's big stars passed through Tulsa on their way to fame. But the next generation is passing over Tulsa.
Since Tulsa City Limits closed last summer fans have discovered live country music in a dance hall is hard to find. News on Six reporter Emory Bryan says Ray Bingham is proud of Tulsa's connection to country music - he's seen plenty of the top acts come out of Oklahoma. Ray Bingham, Country Music Agent: "Oklahoma really has a reputation for producing the stars." Some of those acts still play Tulsa - mainly in concerts where thousands can gather. But since the Tulsa City Limits closed last year - it's left Tulsa without a country-dance club that features live music. That means Tulsa fans miss out on the rising stars of country - and local bands have no place to gain experience. "You have to go play the clubs, in Texas the clubs are still big. I had 21 clubs in Oklahoma I was booking ten years ago, and today I do not have a single one."
The Hall of Fame Club in Catoosa - where fans gathered to watch the it's karaoke night on Wednesday - is about the only place left that books country acts for the dance floor. Rodney Bruer, Hall of Fame Club: "Live music wise, there aren't any big clubs anymore, I don't know if it's the size of the city or a changing of the times." It's a little bit of both - many acts now require big stages and lots of seats to turn a profit. And the country-dance bars almost all use recorded music - with no live acts. Bingham: "If they want to see them, they have to go to Kansas City or out of state because there's just not that many coming to Tulsa right now, and that 's unfortunate.â€
It takes at least 500 seats for a country-dance club to get an act with name recognition. Tulsa City Limits had about 800 seats. The Hall of Fame Club only seats 320, which limits them to the newer acts. But it's still a good place to catch country artists just before they make it big.