Magical Music in Muskogee, OK

By Marc Acton on May 16, 2014 at 6:01 am EST
Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame

It's no surprise that a variety of musical stars got their start in Muskogee, Okla. Hardly a day goes by when there's not a live musical performance to catch. And the music scene here goes beyond country. It's included jazz artists like Barney Kessel and Pee Wee Russell, gospel singer Smokie Norful and the country duo the Swon Brothers. Here are just a few highlights Muskogee's music scene.

Music of the Past and Present

Since 1995 the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame has showcased the impact Oklahomans have had on the music industry. The hall has honored more than 75 individuals and groups, including world-renowned, chart-topping artists like Toby Keith, Kristin Chenoweth, and Carrie Underwood. Visitors can learn about inductees and their contributions to musical culture, and enjoy live music every Thursday night.

“The museum is a cool attraction, and we change our exhibits regularly to bring in some great stuff, but the live music is the biggest thing that the hall of fame brings to Muskogee. We're starting to get a lot of attention from regional acts, and some national acts [who are interested in our venue],” says Executive Director Jim Blair. “And I think we've kind of reached a point to when people talk about live music [in Muskogee], they've started to talk about the hall of fame.”

Muskogee’s Musical Treasures

Another musical landmark is the Roxy Theater, which has been charming its visitors since opening in 1948. Originally a movie theater, it now features an assortment of musical shows, live productions and plays, and recent and classic movies. The theater creates a memorable experience by featuring quality entertainment while transporting visitors through time with its post-WWII era building. The old-school neon sign at the entrance, the skillfully-crafted architecture and the art deco glass lining the building’s interior all greet visitors, who can then relax in the theater’s fully-restored seats. This buffet for the senses makes the Roxy easily one of Oklahoma’s best-kept secrets that visitors will surely be tempted to share with others.

Max’s Garage doesn’t sport antique architecture or hand-crafted glass (although it might have a neon sign or two), but it does feature some killer live music along with its great food and drink. It’s the perfect spot to let loose and dance to some tunes as every night of the week features a new special or promo. Folks are sure to walk away from a night at the garage with some great memories, and maybe a couple new friends. But a night of music doesn’t have to end there – there are plenty of casinos in the nearby area, like Creek Nation Casino of Muskogee, which stays open late and hosts a large number of big-name live musical acts and concerts.

The Blues Beat Goes On and On

The cherry on top of the Muskogee area's delicious musical cake is, without a doubt, the Dusk Til’ Dawn Blues Festival, which is held annually in nearby Rentiesville. This three-day event, usually held in late August, is packed with non-stop, good-ole bluesy tunes. Band after band takes the stage, making their instruments sing (or cry, depending who’s playing them), reminding listeners why blues music has been popular for so many years. The festival is a huge part of this growing music scene that makes the area a must-visit every year for music lovers from Oklahoma and beyond.

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Sitting outside my office right now, I can see what looks like a grandpa and his grandkids, little ones, and they’re out here on the pier fishing. And to see that every day makes me feel like we have accomplished something important to Muskogee and to Oklahoma.

Scott Robinson, Port Director for the Port of Muskogee