A man and his guitar



Photo by Scooter Brown

According to music legend, guitarist Chet Atkins was in a Nashville studio warming up for a session. A young technician came into the studio and stood watching open-mouthed until Atkins finished.

”Gee, Mr. Atkins, that guitar sure sounds fabulous,” the tech exclaimed.

Atkins placed the guitar on its stand, smiled at the tech and said, “Well, son, how does it sound now?”

In 1975, Norman’s Rare Guitars opened in Reseda, California.  It was a small, word-of-mouth shop specializing in vintage instruments known among musicians as the go-to location for the finest guitars available in the United States. In 1978, Tulsa blues musician Steve Pryor walked in to Norman’s, knowing he wanted to buy an L-series black Stratocaster. The only specification he wasn’t sure about was the year. After a bit of discussion, ten black 1964 Stratocasters were brought out for Pryor to inspect. He spent his entire day there, trying each guitar with equal interest. By the end of the day, he walked out with the black Stratocaster he still plays today. It cost him $200 and a Music Man amplifier, which the store agreed to take in trade.

Since that time, Pryor and his guitar have traveled many miles, played thousands of venues, and shared the stage with the likes of such blues greats as Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Paul Butterfield, Bugs Henderson and The Fabulous Thunderbirds. The guitar has accompanied him to his 2006 induction into the Oklahoma Blues Hall of Fame and his 2009 induction into the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame as a blues inductee.

The first Fender Stratocaster appeared in 1954. The body of the Stratocaster was more sleek and contoured than any other guitar that preceded it. The guitar’s build allowed the musician to move more freely and allowed for greater showmanship on stage. Once it was embraced by rock icons such as Buddy Holly, George Harrison, Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix, the guitar’s popularity soared. Simply put, the Stratocaster looked “cool.”

Interestingly, this is one of the reasons, aside from sound, that Pryor went into Norman’s Rare Guitars that day way back in 1978 and requested a black Strat. Pryor’s guitar needed to be black for one reason and one reason only: Jimi Hendrix’s last guitar, a 1968 Stratocaster, was black, and photographed with his black Strat, Hendrix looked very cool.

Pryor has made some unique modifications to his instrument, thanks in good part to the expertise of Tulsa Guitar and Electronic’s own Steve Hickerson, known affectionately among musicians as “Doc.” Pryor explains the modifications, which involve terminology such as “bridge pickup,” “saddles,” and “open string harmonics.” Suffice it to say, the modifications have made the guitar sound better—in fact, the modifications have made the guitar sound like no other.

Photo by Seth Lee JonesWhile many musicians have given their guitars nicknames—Willie Nelson and “Trigger;” B. B. King and “Lucille;” Stevie Ray Vaughan and “Number One”—Pryor’s Strat has never had a name. But this does not mean the guitar isn’t treated well. When at home and not in its case, the guitar rests high up off the floor on a soft pallet. And only once did the beloved guitar get mistreated by its owner. In a frantic and hurried restringing session, Pryor lost his temper and threw the guitar across a concrete dressing room floor. The guitar did indeed suffer an injury, which Pryor repaired himself with a vial of super glue. Fortunately, it did not change the sound.

So, has Pryor been asked to sell his guitar? Absolutely. Has any offer tempted him to date? Nope. Pryor predicts his Strat will always be repairable, though he does occasionally toy with the idea of retiring it and getting a new one.

Has anyone else ever played Steve Pryor’s Stratocaster? Pryor hesitates, and has to think about that for just a moment. “Well, yes, sometimes, but only if I’m standing there," he says. "There’s no borrowing.”

So, now for the big question. Is it the guitar that makes the musician, or is it the musician that makes the guitar, or is it a combination of both? On this question, Pryor does not hesitate. With complete humility, he asserts that the guitar does not make the musician. What does help is a level of familiarity with the instrument. “It is really more a matter of personal comfort,” he says.

In other words, harkening back to 1978, Pryor could have walked out with any one of those ten Stratocasters that day and the results would have been the same.

Thirty four years and five albums later, thousands of live performances, and Pryor would still be the guitar virtuoso that he is today. As the world renowned Andres Segovia once explained, “Lean your body forward slightly to support the guitar against your chest, for the poetry of the music should resound in your heart.”


More on Pryor's Stratocaster

Entering the serial number printed on Steve’s guitar into a database called “The Guitar Dater Project” produces the following information: “Your guitar was made at the Fullerton Plant (Fender - Pre CBS Era), USA in the Year(s): 1964.” Leo Fender sold his company to CBS in 1965 and pre-CBS Era guitars are highly sought after by collectors.

If you place Steve’s guitar next to Strats owned by Stevie Ray Vaughan and John Mayer, the scuff marks above the pickguards on all three guitars would line-up almost exactly, reflecting similar styles of playing and hand movements. 

Pryor’s black Strat, upon closer inspection, has an undercoat of Sherwood Green. Fender frequently painted its guitars with two layers, sometimes to hide flaws, and sometimes to meet customer demand for a particular color. The colors chosen for undercoats were used by Fender based on availability, and combinations of primers and finishes are inconsistent. Fender custom colors were highly influenced by the colors of the most popular automobiles of the day.


Famous Stratocasters and the musicians who played them

Bill Carson

Oklahoma born country and western swing artist Bill Carson (1926-2007) is known as the test pilot of the Stratocaster. Leo Fender himself actually employed Carson as a field tester for his evolving guitar design and made suggestions to Mr. Fender, particularly regarding the contoured body shape. By 1957, he was employed by Fender on a full-time basis, rising to the head of Fender’s artist relations offices in Nashville. In 2006, one of Carson’s strats, a 1959 Fiesta Red model, sold at Christie’s Auction House for $66,000.

Eric Clapton

Eric Clapton’s Stratocaster, nicknamed “Blackie,” was a composite of three models built between 1956 and 1957. Blackie first appeared publicly in the early ‘70s and was retired in 1985. To raise funds for Crossroads, Clapton’s alcohol and drug rehabilitation center, the Strat was auctioned in 2004. Blackie fetched a record $959,500.

David Gilmour

Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour is the proud owner of Strat #0001, often mistakenly believed to be the first Stratocaster ever made. However, Fender did not use sequential serial numbers, so though this is not truly #1, it was manufactured in 1954. The guitar remains in service today.

George Harrison

In 1965, George Harrison obtained a Sonic Blue Stratocaster which he subsequently hand-painted with day-glo paints and nail polish. He also painted the guitar’s nickname “Rocky” on the headstock. Elsewhere on the guitar, the words “Bebopalula” and “Go Cat Go” also appear. The Strat remains in the custody of the Harrison family.

Eddie Van Halen

Eddie Van Halen, who enjoyed tinkering with instruments, combined a Stratocaster body with parts from Gibson and other guitars. The guitar is known as “Frankenstrat” and was hand-painted by Van Halen in a recognizable black/white/red design featured on the cover of the popular video game “Guitar Hero: Van Halen.” Frankenstrat is currently in retirement from touring, and in 2006, Fender issued a replica of the guitar.

Jimi Hendrix

Being left-handed, Jimi Hendrix chose most often to play a right-handed guitar flipped upside down and played from the opposite side of the body. Hendrix played a 1968 Olympic White Stratocaster when he appeared at Woodstock in 1969.  This guitar is most memorable for Hendrix’s stunning rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Most recently, the white Strat has been on display at the EMP Museum in Seattle, Hendrix’s hometown.

Frank and Dweezil Zappa

After Jimi Hendrix set fire to a Stratocaster, what was left of it (a scorched body) was gifted to his friend Frank Zappa. Zappa restored the guitar to playable condition in the mid-1970s and played it himself for several years. The guitar disappeared for a while, and reappeared when Frank’s son Dweezil found the guitar stashed under a staircase in a studio. For unknown reasons, the Strat had been dismantled and damaged. Dweezil took the guitar to the Fender custom shop, where it was once again restored and is in service today.

Stevie Ray Vaughan

Stevie Ray Vaughan’s most recognizable guitar was a 1963 Stratocaster nicknamed “Number One.” It was widely believed that Vaughan was buried with this guitar in 1990. The truth is, Number One belongs to Stevie’s brother, musician Jimmie Vaughan. The guitar was publicly displayed for the first time in 2012 at the Bullock Texas State History Museum in downtown Austin. 

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February 2017

The ORU Aerobics Center presents its 8th Annual Whole Person Indoor Triathlon. This Super Sprint Triathlon is perfect for first time Triathletes and people of all ages! The competition...

Cost: $35 for Indiv // $45 for Teams

Where:
Mabee Center
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Cost: $35/person and $45/team

Where:
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7777 S. Lewis Ave.
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Sponsor: ORU Aerobics Center
Telephone: 918-495-6640
Contact Name: Julie Dunn
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Cost: $35/person and $45/team

Where:
Kenneth H. Cooper Aerobics Center
7777 S. Lewis Ave.
Tulsa, OK  74171
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Sponsor: ORU Aerobics Center
Telephone: 918-495-6640
Contact Name: Julie Dunn
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Cost: $6 per person or $24 per family/table of 4 or more.

Where:
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6767 S. Mingo Rd.
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Sponsor: Asbury United Methodist Church

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https://mabeecenter.com/oru-baseball-2017/

Cost: 14+2 sc

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Mabee Center
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Cost: free

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mainline art bar
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Cost: $25-60

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IDL Ballroom
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Sponsor: Broken Arrow Community Playhouse
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Cost: free and open to the public

Where:
McKeon Center for Creativity
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Cost: free and open to the public

Where:
McKeon Center for Creativity
910 S. Boston Ave.
TCC Metro Campus
Tulsa, OK  74119
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Sponsor: McKeon Center for Creativity
Telephone: 918-595-7339
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Cost: free

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mainline art bar
111 n main street
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Cost: $25-60

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Cost: 28

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Cost: Free

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Sponsor: Cancer Treatment Centers of America
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Cost: free

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mainline art bar
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J.L. Johnson Stadium
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Telephone: 918-587-3802
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Cost: free and open to the public

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Sponsor: McKeon Center for Creativity
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Contact Name: Cindy Barton
Website »

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Tulsa Community College - Metro Campus - Student Commons

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Cost: free

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mainline art bar
111 n main street
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Sponsor: mainline art bar
Telephone: 918-704-3330
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Mabee Center
7777 S Lewis Ave
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IDL Ballroom
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Cost: free and open to the public

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Cost: free

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mainline art bar
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Contact Name: katy eagleston

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Cox Business Center
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Sponsor: Benefits LIFE Senior Services
Telephone: 918-664-9000
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Tulsa, OK  74103
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Telephone: (918) 807-6224
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Cost: FREE

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Tulsa, OK  74136
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Sponsor: Laureate Institue for Brain Research
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Cost: $35

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View map »


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Contact Name: Meghan Hurley
Website »

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Cost: $25-$35

Where:
Hard Rock Hotel and Casino - The Joint
777 W Cherokee Street
Catoosa, OK  74105
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Where:
Hard Rock Hotel and Casino - Riffs
777 W Cherokee Street
Catoosa, OK  74105
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Cost: $5-$7

Where:
Vanguard
222 N Main St
Tulsa
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Telephone: (319) 804-9727
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Where:
Mercury Lounge
1747 S Boston Ave
Tulsa
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Cost: $15-$44

Where:
Reynolds Center
3208 E 8th St
Tulsa, OK
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Where:
Soundpony
409 N Main St
Tulsa
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Telephone: (918) 582-7669
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Where:
The Colony
2809 S Harvard Ave
Tulsa, OK
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Telephone: (918) 794-4208
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Where:
River Spirit Casino - 5 O'Clock Somewhere Bar
8330 Riverside Pkwy.
Tulsa, OK  74137
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Where:
Hard Rock Hotel and Casino - Cabin Creek
777 W Cherokee Street
Catoosa, OK  74105
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Where:
Hunt Club
224 N Main St
Tulsa
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Telephone: (918) 599-9200
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Founded in 2004, the Green Country Watercolor Society promotes awareness and interest in water media, with a focus on excellence in technique and materials, while encouraging and assisting water...

Cost: free and open to the public

Where:
McKeon Center for Creativity
910 S. Boston Ave.
TCC Metro Campus
Tulsa, OK  74119
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Sponsor: McKeon Center for Creativity
Telephone: 918-595-7339
Contact Name: Cindy Barton
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DON'T BE LATE......for the most FUNdraiser in town, chaired by Katie Mabrey, of Mabrey Bank. Featuring live music by Charlie Redd and Full Flava Kings. Silent auction featuring student art and much...

Cost: 150

Where:
Cox Business Center
100 Civic Center
Tulsa, OK
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Sponsor: Benefits Street School, Inc
Telephone: 918-833-9813
Contact Name: Sandra Thornton
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For First Friday Feburary 3rd Back Gallery has been invited to come in out of the cold and have a show at Mainline Bar. We've asked local wiz photogrphers Western Doughty, Amy Rockett-Todd, and...

Cost: free

Where:
mainline art bar
111 n main street
tulsa, OK  74103
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Sponsor: mainline art bar
Telephone: 918-704-3330
Contact Name: katy eagleston

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Honoring 10 fearless Tulsa leaders who are creating real change for women and girls, this year's gala is themed for fiction's most powerful and enigmatic female heroines.

Cost: $150-$250

Where:
Cox Business Center
100 Civic Center
Tulsa, OK
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Sponsor: Benefits YWCA
Telephone: 918-858-2343
Contact Name: Mandie Rowden
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Andrew Lippa’s Wild Party evokes the glamour, sensuality, and decadence of Manhattan in the roaring twenties. The story chronicles an evening in the life of Queenie and Burrs, lovers and...

Cost: $25-60

Where:
IDL Ballroom
230 East 1st Street
Tulsa, OK  74103
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Sponsor: Theatre Pops
Telephone: 918-902-6339
Contact Name: Meghan Hurley
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Signature Symphony at TCC  Presents A Night at the Oscars Music from Oscar winning movies February 24 & 25, 2017    7:30p.m. Something magical happens when the...

Cost: $32-$58

Where:
VanTrease PACE
10300 E. 81st Street
Tulsa, OK  74133
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Telephone: 918-595-7777
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BROKEN ARROW COMMUNITY PLAYHOUSE Presents Neil Simon’s “Barefoot in the Park”   The Broken Arrow Community Playhouse is excited to present “Barefoot in...

Cost: $10-$15

Where:
Broken Arrow Community Playhouse
1800 S Main St
Broken Arrow, OK  74012
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Sponsor: Broken Arrow Community Playhouse
Telephone: 918-258-0077
Contact Name: Sherry Hacker
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Where:
American Legion Post 308
11328 E Admiral Pl
Tulsa, OK
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Cost: $16-$56

Where:
BOK Center
200 S Denver Ave
Tulsa
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Where:
Yeti
417 N Main St
Tulsa
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Telephone: (918) 936-4994
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Cost: $18-$23

Where:
Expo Square - Ford Truck Arena
4145 E 21st St
Tulsa, OK
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Where:
Hard Rock Hotel and Casino - Riffs
777 W Cherokee Street
Catoosa, OK  74105
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Signature Symphony performs pieces from the scores of Oscar-winning films.

Cost: $32-$47

Where:
VanTrease Performing Arts Center for Education
10300 E 81st St
Tulsa, OK
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Telephone: (918) 595-7752
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Cost: $10

Where:
Comedy Parlor
328 E 1st St
Tulsa, OK
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Telephone: (918) 921-3535
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Where:
River Spirit Casino - Margaritaville Stage
8330 Riverside Pkwy.
Tulsa, OK  74137
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Cost: $18-$20

Where:
Cain's Ballroom
423 North Main Street
Tulsa, OK  74103
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Telephone: 918.584.2306
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Cost: $10

Where:
Vanguard
222 N Main St
Tulsa
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Telephone: (319) 804-9727
Website »

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Where:
Hunt Club
224 N Main St
Tulsa
View map »


Telephone: (918) 599-9200
Website »

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Where:
Hunt Club
224 N Main St
Tulsa
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Telephone: (918) 599-9200
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Where:
Soul City
1621 E 11th St
Tulsa
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Telephone: (918) 607-6005
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Cost: $10

Where:
Comedy Parlor
328 E 1st St
Tulsa, OK
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Telephone: (918) 921-3535
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Cost: $15-$20

Where:
Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame
5 S Boston Ave
Tulsa
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Telephone: (918) 928-5299
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Where:
VFW Post 577 - Centennial Lounge
1109 E 6th St
Tulsa, OK
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Where:
Soundpony
409 N Main St
Tulsa
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Telephone: (918) 582-7669
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Where:
Hard Rock Hotel and Casino - Cabin Creek
777 W Cherokee Street
Catoosa, OK  74105
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Where:
Utopia Bar & Lounge
3508 S Sheridan Rd
Tulsa, OK  74145
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Where:
Dusty Dog Pub
5107 S Harvard
Tulsa
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Telephone: (918) 933-5473
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Where:
Fassler Hall
304 S. Elgin Avenue
Tulsa, OK  74120
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Telephone: (918) 576-7898
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See Philbrook as never before, thanks to acclaimed artist HOTTEA's large-scale yarn installation.

Where:
Philbrook Museum of Art
2727 S Rockford Road
Tulsa, OK
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Where:
River Spirit Casino - 5 O'Clock Somewhere Bar
8330 Riverside Pkwy.
Tulsa, OK  74137
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Where:
The Colony
2809 S Harvard Ave
Tulsa, OK
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Telephone: (918) 794-4208
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Please join us for the 57th Annual Holland Hall Book Fair! Saturday, February 25, 2017 8:00 am – 5:00 pm Holland Hall Middle School Gym (5666 East 81st Street, Tulsa, OK 74137) Open...

Cost: $1, 18 and under free

Where:
Holland Hall Middle School
5666 E. 81st St.
Tulsa, OK  74137
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Sponsor: Holland Hall
Telephone: (918) 879-4738
Contact Name: Christy Zahn
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Bring the family for a walk to explore trees - inside and out. We'll look at tree shapes, make bark rubbings, and count rings. Meet at Children's Discovery Garden entrance. Tulsa Botanic...

Cost: FREE for Garden members; $8 for ages 13+; $4 for ages 3–12. 2 and under are free

Where:
Tulsa Botanic Garden
3900 Tulsa Botanic Drive
Tulsa, OK  74127
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Sponsor: Tulsa Botanic Garden
Telephone: 918-289-0330
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ALL KIDS 13 & UNDER – IT’S FREE! All children age 13 and under, accompanied by an adult, will be allowed in to all 2016-17 ORU Athletics ticketed sports for free. This is strictly a...

Cost: $9

Where:
Mabee Center
7777 S Lewis Ave.
Tulsa, OK  74171
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Sponsor: Mabee Center

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For First Friday Feburary 3rd Back Gallery has been invited to come in out of the cold and have a show at Mainline Bar. We've asked local wiz photogrphers Western Doughty, Amy Rockett-Todd, and...

Cost: free

Where:
mainline art bar
111 n main street
tulsa, OK  74103
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Sponsor: mainline art bar
Telephone: 918-704-3330
Contact Name: katy eagleston

More information

Fly Me to the Moon' Lunar New Year Gala. We will be celebrating the music of Frank Sinatra. Reception, dinner, raffle and live auction items. Sponsorships Available

Cost: 125

Where:
Southern Hills Country Club
2636 E. 61st Street
Tulsa, OK
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Sponsor: Benefits Dillon International
Telephone: 918-748-5613
Contact Name: Steffanie Bonner
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Cost: $7

Where:
Mabee Center
81st Street and South Lewis
Tulsa, OK
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Mardi Gras in Tulsa includes: Live Auction and Dinner with appetizers from Tulsa area guest chefs, and entree by Chef Devin Levine. Then, dance the night away to the live Zodiac Band. All of the...

Cost: $150 per person/ $100 per person (under 40)

Where:
Tulsa Ballroom at the Cox Business Center
100 Civic Center
Tulsa, OK
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Sponsor: Benefits Catholic Charities
Telephone: 918-5087115
Contact Name: Jennifer Allen
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Your evening begins with a fun-filled reception. Mix, mingle, and shop while you enjoy great cocktails and tasty hors d'oeuvres. Experience our Native American culture as our Drum Group calls you...

Cost: Single: $150; Couple: $250

Where:
Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Tulsa
777 West Cherokee
Catoosa, OK
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Sponsor: Benefits Indian Health Care Resource Center
Telephone: 918-382-1203
Contact Name: Debbie Starnes
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The Miró Quaret returns for their fourth appearance on Chamber Music Tulsa's series with an extraordinary performance of all 16 of Beethoven's string quartets in six concerts over...

Cost: $35

Where:
Tulsa PAC - Westby Pavilion
110 E 2nd St
Tulsa, OK  74103
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Sponsor: Chamber Music Tulsa
Telephone: 918-587-3802
Contact Name: J.J Cody
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More information

Andrew Lippa’s Wild Party evokes the glamour, sensuality, and decadence of Manhattan in the roaring twenties. The story chronicles an evening in the life of Queenie and Burrs, lovers and...

Cost: $25-60

Where:
IDL Ballroom
230 East 1st Street
Tulsa, OK  74103
View map »


Sponsor: Theatre Pops
Telephone: 918-902-6339
Contact Name: Meghan Hurley
Website »

More information

Signature Symphony at TCC  Presents A Night at the Oscars Music from Oscar winning movies February 24 & 25, 2017    7:30p.m. Something magical happens when the...

Cost: $32-$58

Where:
VanTrease PACE
10300 E. 81st Street
Tulsa, OK  74133
View map »


Telephone: 918-595-7777
Website »

More information

BROKEN ARROW COMMUNITY PLAYHOUSE Presents Neil Simon’s “Barefoot in the Park”   The Broken Arrow Community Playhouse is excited to present “Barefoot in...

Cost: $10-$15

Where:
Broken Arrow Community Playhouse
1800 S Main St
Broken Arrow, OK  74012
View map »


Sponsor: Broken Arrow Community Playhouse
Telephone: 918-258-0077
Contact Name: Sherry Hacker
Website »

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Six internationally acclaimed artists come together for this concert of opera and pop favorites: sopranos Leona Mitchell, Alyson Cambridge, and Sarah Joy Miller; tenor David Miller (of Il Divo);...

Cost: $25-$118

Where:
Tulsa Performing Arts Center - Chapman Music Hall
110 E. 2nd St.
Tulsa, OK  74103
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Telephone: 918.596.7122
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Where:
Hard Rock Hotel and Casino - Riffs
777 W Cherokee Street
Catoosa, OK  74105
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Where:
Gypsy Coffee House
303 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd
Tulsa
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Telephone: (918) 295-2181
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Where:
River Spirit Casino - 5 O'Clock Somewhere Bar
8330 Riverside Pkwy.
Tulsa, OK  74137
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Where:
The Fur Shop
520 E 3rd St
Tulsa, OK
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Telephone: (918) 949-4292
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Where:
Soul City
1621 E 11th St
Tulsa
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Telephone: (918) 607-6005
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One of the country's leading children's and maternity consignment events.

Cost: $10

Where:
Expo Square - Exchange Center
4145 E 21st St
Tulsa, OK
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Cost: $10

Where:
Comedy Parlor
328 E 1st St
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Telephone: (918) 921-3535
Website »

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Cost: $5

Where:
Reynolds Center
3208 E 8th St
Tulsa, OK
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Where:
Magoo's
5002 S Memorial Dr
Tulsa
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Telephone: (918) 663-3364
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Cost: $10

Where:
BOK Center
200 S Denver Ave
Tulsa
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Website »

More information

Cost: $45-$55

Where:
River Spirit Casino - Paradise Cove
8330 Riverside Pkwy.
Tulsa, OK  74137
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Website »

More information

Where:
Hard Rock Hotel and Casino - Cabin Creek
777 W Cherokee Street
Catoosa, OK  74105
View map »


Website »

More information

Where:
River Spirit Casino - Margaritaville Stage
8330 Riverside Pkwy.
Tulsa, OK  74137
View map »


Website »

More information

Where:
Soundpony
409 N Main St
Tulsa
View map »


Telephone: (918) 582-7669
Website »

More information

Cost: $10

Where:
Vanguard
222 N Main St
Tulsa
View map »


Telephone: (319) 804-9727
Website »

More information

From 1940 to 1976, Philbrook hosted The Oklahoma Artists' Annual Exhibition, a juried competition featuring work by dozens of Oklahoma artists. With a wide range of styles, subjects, and points of...

Where:
Philbrook Museum of Art
2727 S Rockford Road
Tulsa, OK
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Where:
Uncle Bently's Pub & Grill
4902 S. Sheridan Rd.
Tulsa, OK
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Telephone: (918) 664-6800
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Where:
The Colony
2809 S Harvard Ave
Tulsa, OK
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Telephone: (918) 794-4208
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