Two years ago strangers crammed onto couches together, stood in corners and took up every square inch of a living room as several local artists performed to a crowd of 45. Now, these same faces flock to various coffee shops as regional and national bands perform at Living Room Tulsa.
ORU alumna Lauren Rockett began hosting house shows in her living room in 2013. What started as an attempt to collect good music, good people and good communion all under one roof launched the beginning of Living Room Tulsa (LRT). It is characterized as an experience seeking to “connect people with music and musicians to their audience.”
“My roommate and I had just graduated and we were used to being around people all of the time, so there wasn’t a good way to connect unless you joined a singles group at a church or something,” Rockett said. “So this was bringing a lot of people that cared about a lot of the same things as us together.”
After a handful of house shows Rockett decided to take this idea to a group of friends who shared the same passion for music and community and build off of the foundation she had already laid. Chris Renick, a 2015 ORU alumnus and music technology major, was one of those friends.
“Even before going to school at ORU I’ve always had my hands on art projects or been on stage,” Renick said. “It was interesting because I had all of this equipment that I had just accrued over the years from doing stuff. I didn’t even know half of it or why I had it, and we started doing shows. It was amazing how every single piece of equipment I had suddenly found a reason to exist.”
Living Room Tulsa has hosted five shows since May in various locations including Tulsa coffee shop Hoot Owl Coffee. The short-term vision for LRT is to partner with different towns to host house-show tours, and, eventually, Rockett and Renick plan to open a living room venue in Tulsa.
“Tulsa has a developing art community but it’s sort of in little pockets around town,” Rockett said. “So [we’re] just trying to be another thing to unite that.”
The long-term vision of LRT is to build numerous Living Rooms in different cities giving artists an opportunity to go on tour throughout the country, bringing their individual sound with them and connecting with audiences along the way. Until then, LRT remains local and reaches out to artists regionally and nationally.
“There’s this abstract sort of idea that we have ultimately,” Renick said. “Historically, in families, living rooms have been this place where everyone comes together. Sometimes it breaks out into argument. I was reading something about the different mindsets today and how people aren’t really agreeing on things so much anymore, and one of the things we can do is come together, and we can agree on at least this one thing we all enjoy. There’s this one thing and that’s music. Our hope is that you’ll attend a show, hear music you love, be with people and feel at home.”
Living Room Tulsa’s next show is tonight at 7 p.m. in Timko Barton featuring Oklahoma City band Tallows and Tulsa native band Sports. Students pay $2, and general admission is $5.
Photo courtesy of the Living Room Tulsa