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Lip Service

With a little bit of soul and a whole lot of spirit, Soul City Gastropub creates an oasis for those looking to relax and enjoy music in a space that is welcoming to the artists and the listeners.

Article
G.K. Hizer
Posted
May 28, 2018

In the seven years since Kevin and Amy Smith launched Soul City Gastropub and Music House in its original location on Third Street, it has continued to evolve. Amongst its identities are gastropub, bar, art installation and creative space. None of those are inaccurate, but none of them complete the picture, either. Each is an important component of what makes Soul City so unique and special, but its role as a music venue completes the puzzle.

Soul City has also become a sanctuary for music fans looking for someplace special to relax and enjoy music in a space that is equally welcoming to the artists and the listeners.

To those who aren’t in the know, Soul City is likely that weird little pink building with the mural on the western wall, next to longtime 11th Street staple, El Rancho Grande.

True, Soul City is different, but that’s where its charm lies.

When you step through the back door of Soul City, you’ll find a spacious patio with ample seating, a low-key staging area and backyard space with lawn chairs and cornhole boards, completed with more eclectic decorations. (Photo: Marc Rains)
When you step through the back door of Soul City, you’ll find a spacious patio with ample seating, a low-key staging area and backyard space with lawn chairs and cornhole boards, completed with more eclectic decorations. (Photo: Marc Rains)

When you step inside, the eclectic atmosphere showcases the creative side of both owners, Kevin and Amy Smith. Perhaps a perfect example of the yin and yang of Amy’s artistic visions and Kevin’s musical background, it’s a space you can roll through with tunnel vision and find pleasantly different or spend hours observing and see something new and humorous with every pass.

When you step through the back door, however, you’ll find a spacious patio with ample seating, a low-key staging area and backyard space with lawn chairs and cornhole boards, completed with more eclectic decorations. It would be easy to mistake it for a portal stepping into Austin, Texas, but the Smiths know what many of Tulsa’s true music fans know: we’ve got enough character and talent here to not need to emulate Austin. As such, it’s merely a little oasis that lets Tulsa’s artistic side shine through.

Soul City offers a stability that music fans can count on to escape the daily and weekly grind. (Photo: Marc Rains)
Soul City offers a stability that music fans can count on to escape the daily and weekly grind. (Photo: Marc Rains)

Whether utilizing the patio stage in the summer or using the listening room style stage on the interior space, Soul City has consistently booked a mix of Tulsa’s most talented musicians across multiple generations as well as an even more eclectic mix of touring artists. In turn, Soul City has been carving out its own niche and building a reputation that rivals The Colony for allowing creative freedom for its artists and luring touring musicians to stop in and check out what the space is truly all about.

“We try to focus on booking quality music. I kind of feel like we paid our dues when we were on Third Street, auditioning people and trying different things,” Kevin says. “Now we can kind of be picky about what we book. I probably get five to 10 emails or messages a day from people wanting to play, but I’m already booked into September.

“I try to make sure we have quality music each night, but I’ve also got to make sure it fits and makes sense. Now that we’ve got the restaurant and venue, it’s kind of like a marriage. It’s important that it all works together well.”

The quality of music at Soul City is never in question. Not only do they book some of Tulsa’s most reliable and established artists, but several of them have a history and pedigree that most Tulsa listeners aren’t even aware of having toured nationally and internationally, either in their own groups or as side artists for nationally recognized A-list musicians. Cap that with the appearance of touring artists that draw far more attention in other cities, and Soul City’s backyard and patio stage transform into a Tulsa oasis for music lovers.

The Smiths hope that Soul City is at least partially a reflection of Tulsa’s musical heritage; not just the artists that have grown to see large scale success and national recognition, but also the relationships that our local musicians have developed with other artists while touring.

Although closed on Mondays, Soul City offers a stability that music fans can count on to escape the daily and weekly grind. Saturday nights are reserved for concerts and special events, with a standard $10 cover.

“We want people to feel relaxed and welcome here,” says Amy. “We want them to be surprised by Soul City with the quality of the musicianship, the eclectic atmosphere, the tastiness of our food, and the selection of craft beers and cocktails. After all, we’re serving food for the soul.”

LOCATOR
Soul City Gastropub and Music House
1621 E. 11th St. | Tulsa
918-582-7685
tulsasoul.com
Monday: Closed
Tuesday-Friday: 4 p.m.-Midnight
Saturday: 1 p.m.-Midnight
Sunday: 1 p.m.-10 p.m.