Edit ModuleShow Tags

Sing it again

MOJOFest carries on the legacy of Tulsa music

Marcy Levy at the last MOJOFest

James Bass

Mary and Jamie Oldaker didn’t have a typical wedding. They rented out Bohemian Pizzeria for the ceremony and took over Tulsa’s East Village for a public reception filled with food, drinks, friends and music. They wanted to share the celebration with the whole town. Thus, MOJOFest was born.

“For the first one it was just, ‘Anybody come.’ We sent invitations all over. And we said, you know, ‘If the public walks up, come on! Come have a good time,’” Mary said. 

Jamie, a world-renowned drummer who has collaborated with J.J. Cale, Leon Russell, The Gap Band, Eric Clapton and more, was more than happy to oblige. “I had to remind Jamie during the first one, ‘This isn’t Live Aid—this is our wedding reception,’” Mary said.

Since then, MOJOFest, an acronym of the couple’s initials, has grown to be more than just a celebration of Mary and Jamie’s love for each other. Now in its third year, it’s also a celebration of their love for Tulsa and its rich musical heritage. 

“Everyone playing this festival has something to do with Tulsa,” Jamie said. “We will always have Tulsa music involved with [MOJO] to help promote the legacy and the new bands coming up.”

This year, MOJOFest will be held at the legendary Church Studio and the surrounding block. Performers will include Ann Bell and the Gospel Hour, John Fulbright and Friends, The Golden Ones and more. The location is significant to Jamie and performer Ann Bell because they each have so much history in the walls of the studio. They both worked there with Leon Russell when he owned it, while the “Tulsa Sound” was beginning to catch fire. 

“Oldaker and I came in right when the Tulsa Sound was being birthed. We were a part of that. We were some of the youngest members of that crew … talk about being at the right place at the right time,” Bell said. “The years I spent in the Church with Leon recording and stuff were just some of the most magical, unbelievable moments from my life because I knew, even though I was young, I had a sense that what we were doing would last for decades and would become part of the legend of the music that came out of Tulsa.”

All MOJOFest proceeds go to The Day Center for the Homeless and The Church Studio Music Foundation. Bell thinks this is a fitting homage to Leon Russell’s legacy.

“Leon had a very charitable heart ... he was always there to support so I feel like it’s appropriate to raise money for the homeless in Leon’s house, if you will. There’s something very powerful and spiritual about that. I think we’ll feel his presence, approval and support. I really do,” she said.

*  *  *

The Church Studio
Oct. 5, 4 - 11 p.m., $25

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most-read articles