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Update from Tulsa on the eve of Dfest

July 23, 2009  |  6:45pm
Update from Tulsa on the eve of Dfest
When I arrived at the airport in Tulsa, Okla., earlier this afternoon, I was almost immediately held hostage by an incredibly friendly elderly woman at the visitor's desk. All I had asked was if she'd seen anyone waiting to pickup panelists for this weekend's festival. She hadn't, but she did let me know about as many of her hometown's latest improvements as could possibly be crammed into 10 minutes of one-sided conversation. But she was such an earnest sweetheart, and so endearingly proud of her city that I couldn't bring myself to cut her off. When her desk phone suddenly rang, though, I knew it was my only chance to escape. 

"Thanks for all your help," I said as I turned to go. Somehow she managed to stuff a dozen handbills for the event I was attending into my shirt pocket along with a pamphlet about Wizard of Oz spinoff Wicked, also showing in Tulsa this fine weekend.

But I wasn't here to catch Dorothy and her little dog, too. I was in town for the 8th annual Dfest (short for Diversafest)—a mini SXSW of sorts, with over a dozen noteworthy national bands playing the big outdoor stages and hundreds of locals and up-and-comers taking over just about every bar and club in town that can handle live music. There are also a slew of industry panels (tomorrow I'll be participating in "Your Local Scene Sucks: How To Fix It," and something called "The Music Biz Is Not For You"—not exactly sure what that will entail, but hopefully I'll get to crush some eager kid's lifelong dreams).


To top it all off, Dfest—in the true spirit of diversity—has added yoga to the bill this year. That's right, in addition to music, the festival has a full-on yoga program, with countless lectures, panels and sessions. This creates a rather hilarious dichotomy at the festival, as hordes of scrawny, malnourished all-night-partying rock 'n' roll vampires collide with a small army of sari-clad, dozen-turquoise-bracelets-an-arm, washboard-tummied human dharma pretzels. I hadn't realized it until today, but you can spot yoga instructors a mile away—perfect posture, skinny, toned, walking around in a daze with mood-crystal chokers snug around their necks.

As I'm waiting in line to check in for the conference in the lobby of the Crowne Plaza, one of the dharma pretzels is at the front of the line, and between us is this tall, tattooed, metalhead with long, dyed-black hair, pale skin that hasn't seen the sun in months, shit-kicker boots and a pentagram T-shirt. Dharma checks in, and bounces off, and then Captain Dethklok gets called to the counter. After the fest volunteer hands him his all-access wristbands, laminate and lanyard, he turns to walk away. Our gazes meet momentarily. "Oh, wow, man," I say, "Are you ready for some yoga or what?! I mean, my chi is about to, like, explode out of my body right now." The prince of darkness, a bit startled at my interjection, puts his head down and keeps right on walkin'.

The whole thing gets me thinking, "Man, I could really go for a taco right now." After I check in, the concierge points me to a local joint called El Guapo's down the street from the hotel, in Tulsa's Blue Dome district. The place is decorated with Mexican folk art, the centerpiece being a velvety, rich-hued portrait of the Holy Family—Jesus, Mary and Joseph—perched high above the bar. I order three authentic tacos—carnitascarne asada and al pastor—garnished with lime and topped with cilantro and minced cebollas, and they're damn good as I wash them down with an ice-cold can of Tecate. I love Mexican beer in the summer time—Tecate, Sol, Bohemia, Negra Modelo, whatever. So long as it's not fucking Corona.

Next Up: Dfest kickoff and welcome party at the Poseidon Stage, with live music from Oklahoma band Colourmusic.

Tomorrow: The keynote from Andrew W.K.; dozens of panels; The Black Crowes, Gogol Bordello, Citizen Cope, Ozomatli and more. Plus, yours truly learns the half-moonwarrior and bhujangasana poses. Stay tuned.

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