Deviney Luchsinger/Multimedia Specialist
Citizen plays bass in 1970s style band
TULSA, Oklahoma — You do not even notice The Warehouse driving by, or hardly walking up to the door. The only give away is the sound of the crowd cheering as the band takes the stage.
Walking into the smoke-filled venue was like stepping back in time, when hair was long and rock ‘n’ roll was alive and thriving. Kaleidoscopic lights illuminate the faces of the band in trippy, swirling patterns. Sweat pours down the faces of the crowd as they all dance and sway to the music.
The Shelter People are when the past meets the now. The band is composed of three guys in their early 20s, answering texts on their iPhones while wearing bell-bottom pants, managing Facebook pages while looking like they stepped off the set of ‘Dazed and Confused.’
Music that sounds like it was originally played on vinyl records is being released first on online platforms, like iTunes and Spotify.
The bluesy, psychedelic band from Tulsa, recreates and celebrates the 1970s, and brings it to a fresh, new audience.
The band members are Garon Burch, Dakota Hurly and Justin Mathais.
“We don’t even describe ourselves as a ‘70s style band. We end up that way after it’s all said and done,” Burch, Muscogee (Creek) citizen and bassist of The Shelter People said. “We like the ‘70s and we listen to all of people like Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath. And I don’t know, I guess it bleeds through when we play our music. And the hairstyles are pretty cool.”
Burch’s love of music started at an early age. He said he liked to listen to old records as a kid, and grew up around music and musicians.
He plans on continuing in music for as long as he can.
“As long as I can keep playing music, and everything goes good and I have a meal on the table the next day. That’s what I live for,” Burch said.
Hurly, guitarist/vocalist, said he pulls a lot of his musical inspiration from the blues and rock guitar players of the ‘60s and ‘70s.
“I’m just inspired by anything that’s loud, really,” he said.
The band started when Burch and Hurly were in high school. The duo shared a similar taste in music and would joke around with their friends saying they were in a rock ‘n’ roll band who played shows all the time in downtown Tulsa.
One day Hurly got a call from a friend saying they had booked the duo a gig in just a few weeks at The Vanguard in Tulsa.
So, they quickly taught themselves how to write songs and “be a band.”
“We did it and we played the show, and it was weird, but it was really fun. And we decided to keep going,” Hurly said.
What started as a white lie was just the beginning of one of several music projects that eventually turned into what is now The Shelter People.
The band got its name from a Leon Russell album. Burch’s mother reached out to the artist for permission to use the name, and he gave his blessing before he passed away.
The band celebrated the release of their new EP July 22.
Burch said that the process of writing the EP came very fast for the group. The song “Going Back Home” was written when they got the band together on the first day. The rest of the songs on the EP were written in the span of about two or three weeks.
“Hearing our music in such great quality is great,” Burch said.
The EP was produced by Mike Gilland at Auggy Reed studios in Tulsa.
There is something amazing about a group of young people falling in love with a style of music that time tried to forget. It was fascinating to watch the crowd get lost in the music, and sing back the words to songs their parents would have listened to, in a dirty, little, hole-in-the-wall venue at 2 a.m.
Their EP is for purchase on Bandcamp, iTunes, Spotify, Amazon Prime, SoundCloud, and more.