An arts festival celebrating a diverse range of music

OKLAHOMA CITY – The dust is in the air, the wind is picking up and the weather forecast is turning into daily nonsense, and here it all means one extremely exciting thing:

Once again, we find ourselves at the start of Oklahoma’s robust spring festival season.

Uncertain storm chances and annoyingly strong winds aside, late April is when artists of all stripes—both visual and artistic—begin to bring their work outdoors, surrounded by like-minded creators and art-hungry audiences .

And, of course, in OKC, that means kicking off the season right with the Arts Council’s beloved, decades-long Festival of the Arts.

With other popular festivals recently cutting back on planning, over-indulging in one-acts and pushing out music in favor of comedy, the Arts Festival certainly remains the city’s largest and most comprehensive showcase for musicians and music acts of all stripes.

As always, this year’s week-long festivities will have multiple stages, but with the notable removal of the all-family-oriented stage, meaning dance schools and children’s performers will share the bill with singers, rockers, rappers and more.

The extended schedule for the week can be disconcerting, but you don’t have to worry. I’ve laid out some of my favorites right here.

Erin Detherage – Main Stage – Tuesday, April 25 – 1:00 p.m

Erin Deadridge

After the requisite opening ceremonies and some opening jazz from the Steve Pruitt Trio, you can expect to see the Main Stage taken over by guitarist Erin Detherage.

With nothing but their own ten fingers and six strings, Detherage aim for the kind of guitar showcase that harkens back to the heyday of 80s shred.

Miss Brown to You – Main Stage – Tuesday, April 25 – 6:00 p.m

Reliable, soothing and downright funny like a great old friend, Miss Brown to You has become almost an institution in the city’s folk and vocal jazz scenes.

Mary and Louise can still spin a tune around your head like a nice April breeze, whether it’s a classic stylistic standard reimagined through their trademark gentle jazz or one of their tongue-in-cheek and playful originals.

Bee Pichardo – Sonic Stage – Wednesday, April 26 – 4:00 p.m

Hot on the heels of her band Bee & the Hive’s debut EP “Flamingo Dancing,” singer/songwriter Bee Pichardo will take to the smaller, more intimate Sonic Stage for a midweek solo slot.

While The Hive is all about cross-genre, big band energy, Pichardo’s solo acoustic sets put the spotlight on her emotionally candid, self-deprecating songwriting and should be the perfect accompaniment to a little arty afternoon out.

Finite Galaxy – Main Stage – Wednesday, April 26 – 6:00 p.m

Ultimate galaxy
Ultimate galaxy

Definitely one of OKC’s most unique and exciting performances, and if you’ve been keeping up with this column at all, you’ve seen me say that a few times now.

I stand by this as Finite Galaxy fuses creative, relaxed hip-hop with complex, universal spirituality and even the Hindi language to give birth to something truly diverse and special.

There may be no better way to catch the duo live than out in the elements, surrounded by art and creativity of all kinds.

Original Flow – Main Stage – Friday, April 28 – 4:00 p.m

As one of the city’s most lyrical and thoughtful MCs, Original Flow has skyrocketed through the ranks of the OKC rap scene over the past few years, and deservedly so. His songs are loaded with conscience and awareness, but on stage he brings a comfort and confidence that is not easily achieved.

Flow’s newly assembled live band also features some seriously experienced players, including bass from Ben Askren of OKC’s resident prog-fusion monsters SHIFT.

Jabee – Main Stage – Friday, April 28 – 6:00 p.m

Jabi Williams. (B. DICKERSON/Okla City Free Press)

What more can be said about the reigning king of the OKC rap game? Jabee has put our city on the hip-hop map in recent years and has done more than most to help elevate the Eastside to the respect and recognition it deserves as a cultural and community cornerstone of Oklahoma.

If you haven’t caught Jabee live yet, the festival might be the perfect time to tune in, as he’ll be coming off the back of a bit of touring and last year’s powerhouse ‘Am I Good Enough’.

Rod Porter – Sonic Stage – Friday, April 28 – 7:30 p.m

Trust me, it’s hard to recommend a performance against OK legends Beau Jennings & the Tigers (featuring festival organizer and booker Chase Kerby himself) on the main stage, but if you like soul, R&B and deep feelings, feel-in-your- bones vocal jazz, then you need to hear Rod Porter sing.

Porter’s smoothness and charisma in front of the mic is infectious and you can expect him to grab a headlining slot like this and run with it.

Donovan Funk – Sonic Stage – Saturday, April 29 – 5:00 p.m

Coming off one of OKC’s best and most underrated releases of 2022, the astonishingly emotional and creative ‘Subjective Reality’, Funk is ready to bring their raw, honest brand of indie rock to the festival’s intimate Sonic Stage.

No matter the size of the stage or his opening band, Funk tends to leave it all on the floor in his performances, so expect a powerful, cathartic set to kick off the night.

Sarafina Byrd Trio – Main Stage – Saturday, April 29 – 6:00 p.m

Sarafina Byrd will take her rightful place on the main stage late Saturday.

Sarafina Byrd

I’ve been saying for some time that Byrd is one of OKC’s most important artists to watch, as she and her understated, impactful soul and R&B carve a remarkable niche for herself in the city. But after a few months as the house band for Jabee’s latest showcases at the Blue Note, Byrd and her band are ready to take on anything and are sure to prove that the city’s biggest stages are where they belong.

For festival information, including a complete schedule of performances on both stages, visit

Brett Fieldkamp has covered arts, entertainment, news, housing and culture in Oklahoma for nearly 15 years, writing for several local and state publications. He is also a musician and songwriter and holds a Spirits Specialist certification from the Society of Wine Educators.

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