Red River Rebellion running rampant at Brothers tomorrow
By Doug Hill
“Our shows are a lot of sweat, a lot of grit and a lot of hair flying around,” Ben Carter said. “We do a lot of soaring solos.”
He’s the electric bassist for Norman outfit Red River Rebellion (RRR).
“Grant Gage here may appear to be a modest fellow but he cuts it straight-up on guitar,” Carter said. “It’s going to be a great rock show.”
Also in the band are vocalist/ rhythm guitarist Aaron Wall, Callum Roxborough on keys and drummer Todd Marcott. At age 35, Wall is the elder statesman of the otherwise 20-something group and contributes much of the lyrical content for their original compositions. He’s formerly of bands Jagg and Briar Branch Road. Carter, Gage and Roxborough were available together recently for an interview.
RRR is a diverse amalgamation of musical backgrounds forming a project with focus on a rock-oriented red dirt sound.
“Everyone brings a different taste and style to the band,” Gage said. “I grew up on country and classic rock with a later introduction to Stevie Ray Vaughan. My playing comes from several genres.”
Roxborough is not only the newest addition to RRR, the Manchester, UK, native is also new to the USA and has been in Oklahoma all of nine months. He won a Norman girl’s heart who was studying in England and she brought him home with her.
“I was raised on a combination of '80s New Wave and classic Motown such as Stevie Wonder,” Roxborough said. “My dad had a huge love for Bad Company, the Beatles and Rolling Stones.”
He refers to himself as an emulator who strives to learn how certain sounds are created, such as Ray Manzarek’s keyboard wizardry for The Doors. Roxborough was essentially a red dirt music virgin when he arrived here.
“When I hear something I keep it stored in the memory bank for later application,” he said.
His treasure is a recently acquired 1970s era Hammond organ with Leslie rotary speaker.
“It’s a survivalist thing with me,” Carter said. “I’m wanting to constantly evolve my sound from different influences and reinvent my bag of tricks.”
He describes his song writing style as storytelling that’s able to emotionally captivate listeners while pushing artistic limits.
“I like to give people new thoughts,” Carter said.
He’s a veteran of many Norman rock bands and his fondness for heavy metal is well known. This day Carter was wearing an Iron Maiden T-shirt possibly from a time before his birth. His stage presence is remarkable for theatrical flourishes and energetic enthusiasm. As bass player he can often steal the show.
“I’m a long-haired metal guy, Callum’s a distinguished English gentleman, Todd’s a hippie, Grant’s an incredible rock guitarist and Aaron’s as country as it gets,” Carter said.
RRR is working on their first recording together. They’ve been rehearsing at Norman Music Institute where Carter is a guitar instructor. They give high marks to the Norman music scene.
“My friend the drummer Rhett Michael Jones says downtown is booming like never before,” Carter said. “There’s a real renaissance with several venues featuring live music on East Main Street.”
He credits sharing knowledge and cooperation among musicians for contributing to this.
“One time Andy Nuñez at the Opolis opened up his place up for my students’ showcase after another venue canceled,” Carter said. “He understands the integrity of reaching out like that to other musicians.”
RRR have a new booking agent who intends to keep them busy the rest of the year.
“We want more gigs and to get this machine churning,” Carter said.
They’ve had a few memorable shows to date. These include an enthusiastic male fan disrobing as he danced in an otherwise conservative Goldsby restaurant’s bar to an all-out saloon fight at a shots and beer joint on North Flood Avenue.
“My favorite one was at Heath’s Two Wheel Bar and Grill,” Roxborough said. “It was the owner’s birthday and we invited him on stage because he liked to play guitar.”
The birthday boy proved to be an amazing guitarist but he froze the bloody Brit at his keys.
“He turned to me and said (in growling Okie accent) ‘Stevie Ray Vaughan in e-minor,’” Roxborough said. “I’ve never been more scared.”
Watch for more birthday party surprises at RRR’s show Saturday night. It’s billed as a cake and candles celebration performance for Carter.
If You Go:
What: ADDverse Effects with Red River Rebellion in concert.
Where: Brothers Eatery and Pub, 563 Buchanan Ave.
When: 10 p.m. July 13
Red River Rebellion ready to rock.