The Norman Transcript

Sound Advice by Doug Hill

January 13, 2014

Gregg Standridge and Sacred Hollar at Tres Cantina Saturday evening

“We have a night of great fun planned,” Gregg Standridge said. “We don’t practice much so that keeps it wild and wooly.”

The Norman singer/songwriter and guitarist was describing his upcoming Saturday evening gig at downtown’s Tres Cantina. He fronts Sacred Hollar that includes bassist Charley Reeves, Dean Brown on drums and electric mandolin player Robert Bartlett. Standridge was just funning about no practice. He’s taught guitar to over a thousand students in the past three decades and is well known for encouraging the virtue of extensive rehearsal. Something else Standridge believes in is collaboration.

“For that show we’ll bring in a few special guests,” he said. “I like to include other good musicians.”

One of those will be Green Corn Revival’s vocalist Cora Brinkely-Gutel. Also, expect appearances by Edie Rasmussen and Bob Gale of The Lily Guild.

“They’re wonderful harmony singers,” Standridge said. “And sound like they were born to sing with each other.”

Norman North High School junior and one of his Norman Music Institute students named Shelby Davies-Jones is slated to sing a few tunes. With this arsenal of talent, the Tres show is taking on all aspects of a hootenanny.

“We’ll be performing my original songs with a few covers thrown in,” Standridge said. “If anyone else shows up, you never know, they may throw on the guitar and play, too.”

Standridge’s generosity with the limelight undoubtedly comes from maturity and much experience in many musical projects. He began playing in Norman in 1984 with Inspector 12 and Doc and the Delivery Boys.

“They were basically college cover bands,” he said. “I was taking mandolin lessons from Bob French and then started teaching with Charlie Rayl in 1989.”

Playing time with Stick People and Terry “Buffalo” Wares and The Shambles followed next. Empty Bottles is among Standridge’s several current projects that include Sunday Flyers and Big Dumb Buildings.

“That last one is an absurd comedy rock thing I’m doing with Brian Eads,” he said. “We’re shooting a video for it right now.”

Standridge is like the girl in “Oklahoma!” who “cain’t say no” when it comes to new projects. Turn away too many requests and the calls stop coming.

Standridge’s songs are about people he knows and the ones he fabricates from whole cloth.

“I write their stories and situations,” he said. “Waiting for Pepe’s (Mexican restaurant) to open the other day I wrote one about a girl who names the stars. You can’t listen to the committee in your head, don’t over-think, just go on and write it.”

Standridge doesn’t concern himself with whether an audience will like a song; the aim is for him to like it first. Creating something with his personality and unique perspective has proven to be a gift and much more satisfying to share with others.

“I don’t want to play ‘Achy-Breaky Heart’ every night,” he said. “Finding your child-like state is one way to write.”

Listening to people’s stories and feeling the rhythms of life are an inspiration for him.

Part of Standridge’s genuine talent is that he’s able to convey this ability to others in songwriting classes at the Norman Music Institute. Teaching is not a one-way street for him.

“I always learn from my students,” he said. “If you’re not, you are in trouble. It’s a great honor to be trusted to be a teacher. Learning how students process information is really cool.”

One student actually changed Standridge’s understanding of a key element in musical theory and practice. Mode refers to a scale or ordered series of pitches coupled with a set of characteristic melodic behaviors.

“I had learned about it in college and presented it in class but this student named Terrence Blackburne who was 15 at the time came back to me and had mapped it all out in another way,” he said. “I told him I was stealing his lesson because in his brilliance he’d found a totally different angle that I’d just been stumbling around.”

Using Blackburne’s guide proved to work well with other students later.

“That’s the proof in the pudding,” Standridge said.

Don’t anticipate any music theory lessons at Tres Cantina Saturday night. Do expect to witness the caliber of talent that’s made Standridge successful in everything he does.

If You Go

What: Gregg Standridge and Sacred Hollar in concert

Where: Tres Cantina, 305 E. Main St.

When: 10 p.m. Jan. 18

Cost: $5     

Gregg Standridge will be fronting one of his many projects called Sacred Hollar in Norman Saturday night.


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Sound Advice by Doug Hill