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Opening Night to explode across Oklahoma Skies Dec. 31 on 24th anniversary

Oklahomans are gearing up for the 24th annual Opening Night celebration, our city’s New Years Eve festival of sound, fury and midnight fireworks.

This year the locally sourced entertainment vary from alternative rock bands, to comedy troupes to Cirque De Soliel-esque dance groups.  There will 23 acts, all competing for audience attention, spread out across the downtown sector at 12 different venues.

Rachel Findley of the Oklahoma City Arts Council is directing the 2010-2011 Opening Night.

“It keeps getting better year after year,” said Findley.  “We’ll have a wide variety of entertainment – we have magicians, the roller derby girls, and some of the best musicians in our state are coming to play.”

According to the Oklahoma City Arts Council website, wristbands are $8 in advance and $10 at the event. Wristband tickets can be purchased at local 7-11, Homeland and Mid-First Bank locations.

Findley said the fireworks spectacular at Kerr Park will be the biggest, most spectacular pyrotechnics exhibit this city has ever seen.

The Brother Summit band will be headlining, playing during the overhead blasts of the finale. Kerry “Wayne” Andrews is the lead singer and keyboardist of the all Black band, who cover the spectrum of pop music nostalgia.

Andrews said he looks forward to playing a festival where everyone can come, and no one has preconceived expectations of what type of music they’ll hear.

“It’s hard to put a finger on the Oklahoma music scene, a lot of people look at your band and think you should be playing a certain type of music, instead of playing what you feel. And a lot of it is based off race because, as a black guy, people in the crowd think we’re going to play jazz just by looking at us,” said Andrews.

“But then we start throwing country songs at them and after the first three songs they say ‘wow,’” Andrews said.  “So expect the best from us.

“We’re Oklahoma’s best kept secret and we hope that changes after Opening Night,” said Andrews.

Findley said OKC Improv has gathered some local improv troupes and is putting together a four-troupe comedy showcase on the Downtown Library’s fourth floor.

“We are way cool, way cooler than fireworks,” joked Eric Webb, producer of OKC Improv.

“Fireworks aren’t going to tell you a story. It’s a great visual spectacle, but the thing about these improv groups is they are going to take the ideas you give them. So it’s like you, the audience, provides them with fireworks and they are going to explode onstage. Bam! In ways you can’t possibly expect or fathom,” said Webb.

“You people have seen fireworks. They don’t change. You can see improv with us every week and it’ll never be the same,” he said.

The un-official theme song of this years Opening Night, that is used on commercials, is a techno-beat, overdriven guitar cover of The Cure song “A Forest.”

Queen of Monroe, an up and coming Norman rock band is behind it. Bolivia-raised Ricardo Sasaki is the keyboardist and electronic musician of the group, who is fronted by a female vocalist who calls herself Jimmilea.

“It’s important to celebrate the New Year as a band. We are celebrating by doing what we like, playing music,” Sasaki said.

Sasaki, whose band has a new album out called “Blood, Batteries and Turntables,” said New Years is a time of recharging your batteries and a time of making a change.

“Next year we are going to be more proactive as a band. It’s difficult to get local gigs by doing original material instead of cover songs, but we are trying doing our own material now and will try to play a lot more shows,” he said.

Opening Night 2010-2011 has acts scheduled for all ages.

“This year we have an entire section for children in the Cox Convention Center with arts and crafts, face painting, and children’s entertainment,” Findley said.

The Flaming Lips, known as one of the loudest live acts in recent history, will be playing a non-affiliated show at Cox Center arena concurrent to the children’s entertainment, but Findley promises that cross-noise pollution will not be a problem for families wanting to witness stage magic or toddlers wanting to pet baby goats in the exhibit halls.

“New Years is a great time for our city to come together, it’s great to see all the changes in the downtown area, like the Devon building. It’s neat to be with everyone in the Mecca of our city, celebrating,” Findley said.

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