Leon Russell was born Claude Russell Bridges on April 2, 1942 in Lawton, Oklahoma, a little under 3 hours from Tulsa. He began playing the piano at a young age, four in fact, and he attended Will Rogers High School in Tulsa, OK. While he was in high school he began playing nightclubs, adopting the name Leon from a friend who lent him an ID because he was too young to perform. Leon was part of the team responsible for creating what is known as the Tulsa Sound, a mixture of rock, country, rockabilly, and blues. Often referred to as a musician’s musician, Russell worked with everyone from Frank Sinatra to Bob Dylan. He led a successful career as a singer, songwriter, musician, and producer. While recovering from a heart surgery, Russell died in his home in Nashville, TN, in his sleep. He had been looking forward to touring in January.
Leon Russell’s effect on Tulsa was two-fold, he helped to create the “Tulsa Sound” and make it famous, and he also paved the way for other Tulsa musicians. He also had an effect on many of the big names we celebrate today, Elton John calls Leon Russell an inspiration and a mentor, stating that much of the way he plays the piano was influenced by Russell. Black Francis, a singer in the Pixies, states that his vocal style was heavily influenced by his loose, free, and exaggerated style.
Celebrities and Tulsans alike have been sending love his way, many are leaving flowers at Church studio in remembrance, even the historic Circle Cinema has put up a marquee stating “Rip Leon, Tulsa Loves You”, and well, we do. He truly did what many others fail to do, he did what he loved. For us here at the Campbell Hotel, he is easy to remember, we have a room dedicated to him, and it is our privilege to honor his memory in the same way we honored his life, with extreme respect to his roots and to his talent. Leon Russell was and will always be one of our favorite Oklahomans.
Hey there history buffs, you’ve made it to Tulsa. So what now?
Here are a few suggestions for where to go in the city.
The Cain’s Ballroom: Built in 1924, the Cain’s Ballroom is a Tulsa gem. It started out as a dancing hall, later became a dance academy, and is now a prized music venue. Everyone from has played the Cain’s; from Bob Dylan to Metallica. My personal experience with the Cain’s has been semi romantic. I used to frequent the space to watch garage style grunge bands in high school, and as I have gotten older my music tastes have become less about teenage angst, and I have enjoyed many concerts since.
The Brady Theater: Decked out in Art Deco (like most historic buildings in Tulsa), the Brady Theater is a destination. Built in 1914 as a convention center, it received its most prominent facelift in 1930 to transform its barn style hall into an elegant venue. In 1952, other additions were made, including upper and lower lobbies. Some prominent artists that have played here include Buddy Holly, Rosemary Clooney, David Allen Cole, and many more.
So not a ton of “historic” bars or restaurants in Tulsa, so I would recommend visiting places in some of the more historic areas. I have broken this section down by districts.
Blue Dome District- Known from its signature blue dome building in the center of this district, there are a lot of options in this area. You can hit a classic smoky dive bar like Arnie’s, or you can enjoy an incredible meal at Juniper. For breakfast definitely try Bramble or Dilly Diner, you wouldn’t be disappointed. In the mood for a beer? McNellie’s Pub has all of your favorite pub offerings, and over 100 beers on tap (plus it is family friendly until 9 pm). There are many other options in this area, from sushi to a German beer hall.
The Brady District- This area gets its namesake from the Brady Theater, and offers a wide variety of food and drink options. You can grab a delicious burger at the Tavern or enjoy the Medi-Eastern Cuisine of Laffa. Other fun choices include Mexicali and Sisserou’s (great Caribbean food). There are a bunch of bars in this area, from Mainline Art Bar to the Saturn Room Rum and Tiki Bar. Need a unique experience for a special occasion? The alley behind the Tavern hosts a small speakeasy, with amazing food and cocktails. Simply called “The Bull” you can find it via the small metal sign shaped like a bull.
The Kendall-Whittier Neighborhood- This is one of the most recently revitalized areas in Tulsa. If you are here during the week, I highly recommend Calavera’s Mexican Restaurant, and their one dollar street tacos on Wednesdays can’t be beat. Looking for a fun cocktail? Check out the Beehive Lounge, where many of the cocktails feature local honey. Need some homestyle comfort? Check out Maxxwells Restaurant, on 11th. Attached to the Campbell Hotel (a historic landmark on its own), Maxxwells has southern comfort favorites like meatloaf, and breakfast is served all day.
These are just some of the awesome spots around town. You can also check out Cherry Street, Brookside, the Living Arts District, and the area around the BOK center.
Circle Cinema– Located in historic Kendall-Whittier Square, Circle Cinema boasts hard to get, interesting films, as well as mainstream movies. The theater is listed on the national list of historic places, and its intimate setting makes it perfect for a unique date night.
Philbrook Museum– Donated to Tulsa in 1938, this beautiful 72 room mansion and adjoining grounds have been converted into a museum and gardens. Touting everything from a native fashion show to rotating national exhibitions, the Philbrook is the perfect way to pass a Saturday.
Gilcrease Museum–The Gilcrease Museum features one of the greatest collections of Native American Art in the US, and right now their focus is on the Modern Southwest. The Gilcrease has many events during the week, including after hour events. If you are looking for a beautiful and comprehensive collection of Native American art, this is definitely the place for you.
The Dust Bowl-Located in the center of the Blue Dome District, this 8 lane bowling alley features a full bar, VIP area, and is modeled in 1970s chic.
The Tulsa Historical Society and Museum: Want to learn more about Tulsa’s history (and see some amazing vintage photographs of our beloved city)? This is the place for you.
This is just a short collection of things to do around Tulsa, there is so much more. Make sure when you are in town to check out what current festivals, fairs, and events are going on. We can’t wait to see you!
Everyone always runs into that one person at the airport or checking into a hotel that looks put together and not haggard like they just traveled for ages. Believe it or not, it’s not that hard to pull off. Below are a couple of quick tips to make your travel look effortless.
- Wear something that doesn’t wrinkle easily. Synthetic blends seem to stand up best to heavy travel, so make sure you choose items in your closet that fit this criteria, or items that you have worn before that you know hold up wrinkle free at the end of the day.
- Ditch the sweats. This may seem silly, after all, you want to be comfortable, but a little effort goes a long way. Studies have found that there tends to be a direct correlation between your mood and your dress. If you look put together, you will feel put together.
- Choose shoes you feel comfortable in, but also compliment your outfit. There are tons of affordable, simple, stylish flats and wedges out there for women. For men, choose shoes that you feel good in, that are clean, stylish, and broken in. Sensitive feet? Look into some shoe inserts that will make your life a little more comfortable. I’d also recommend slip-ons if possible, dealing with straps and laces in the security line can be a struggle you probably don’t need in your life.
- Sunglasses can be your best friend. They can help me sleep, and they usually hide my dark circles if I have been travelling forever.
- Always listen and follow along with the flight safety briefing. Ok, I know we have all heard it before, but give the flight attendant the respect they deserve. Also there may be something in it for you… I can’t tell you how many free cocktails I have received for simply being polite and responsive. At a minimum, it is the right thing to do.
- Freshen up in the bathroom. Before you head out of the airport, wash your hands or face, fix your hair, makeup, whatever. This type of self-care can help you feel refreshed at the end of exhausting journey. Take a second for yourself to catch your breath if possible, you deserve it after having to deal with the frustration of traveling long distances.
- Take a breath, and if you feel like it, smile to yourself. I have found that after a tiring day if I give myself a smile, my mood instantly improves. Let’s say smiling isn’t for you, do whatever it is that you usually do to pick yourself up a bit, whether it is a nice coffee, picking up a paper to read, or buying your favorite gum, revel in the small things.
- Finally, enjoy yourself. Sure, work trips and traveling to your vacation spots can be exhausting and unforgiving, but let yourself have the small moments of getting your favorite drink on the plane, reading your favorite book, or simply taking some time to zen out your flight can do wonders for your experience.
I first met the Blue Whale in Catoosa on a school trip. Like many school trips, all I wanted to do was talk to my friends, and it wasn’t until I was older that I grew to appreciate what Ol’ Blue represents to the area, and as a Route 66 landmark. In July of this year, I got the opportunity to visit it again, as an assignment from the Campbell Hotel to get a picture for a TripAdvisor promotion. We have won a TripAdvisor Excellence Award several years in a row, so we wanted to celebrate those years with photos of our 2015 and 2016 awards at historical Route 66 landmarks. When I arrived at the Blue Whale, I was struck by how many kids were playing in the water, hanging out, and soaking up the summer sun. I was instantly transported to my own childhood, when we used to fish and swim in the little crappie and catfish pond by my grandfather’s house. It is that childhood nostalgia that really gets you when you have to grow up, have a mortgage, and have big responsibilities. At that moment, looking at those kids splashing around, I hoped that maybe when I took my son to the Blue Whale, he might give it a little more love that I did as a child. All in all that is what the Blue Whale represents, that sort of love and excitement in childhood that seems to evade us as adults. Here’s to you, Ol’ Blue.
About to hit the road or jump on a plane? Space is Key.
- Only bring the essentials. Seems easy, right? If you are packing in a hurry this can be difficult. Instead of rushing through packing, organize your outfits by day. Choosing articles that can be worn for multiple days with different outfits.
- Roll your clothing. Stuff your socks or undergarments inside your shoes, and make sure to wear your bulkiest shoes on your travel day. Also it is good to leave your bulkiest item, like a coat or jacket, out of your bag so you have more space.
- Have sample sizes of your toiletries (this is especially helpful if flying and you don’t plan on checking a bag because they fit the <3oz criteria). For an added measure, cover the tops of your bottles with plastic wrap before returning the lid to the product, this will prevent leaks, especially in the case of a pressure change.
- Travel can be stressful enough, so make sure to have the items you need handy, and keep your valuables and wallet close to prevent theft. For example, always keep your jewelry in a small container in the bag you plan to keep on your person. The same goes for things like your cell, e-reader, ect.
- Always keep an eye mask, earplugs, and headphones to your music player. These items will allow you to sleep if you need to, and music can make your trip much more relaxing.
- Try not to stress. Your trip is meant to be enjoyable.
The Mother Road can be an incredible experience, especially via a motorcycle. Main Street USA traverses across a wide variety of landscapes, climates and locales so it is important to prepare for your journey adequately. Below are some of the best tips for traveling the Mother Road comfortably on your bike.
- Plan it out
- Know if you are going to rent a bike, where you are starting from, and how you will be getting yourself (and your bike if not renting,) home.
- Plan out about how long your trip should take, and set some goals for where you want to hit, when.
- May-October tends to be the best time to travel across the US.
- Get your bike checked out to make sure everything is working correctly. This includes making sure that your tires have the appropriate number of miles left on them.
- Set Realistic Travel Goals
- The trip is meant to be enjoyable, so make sure you plan enough time to experience the sights, while giving your body the time to rest. It can be very strenuous to ride for long periods of time, and taking care of your body is paramount on a long journey. Rest as often as you need it and consider getting on the road around 7 a.m., because it is a pleasure to watch the landscape wake up. Go to bed somewhat early (about 10 p.m. or so) to ensure that you will be alert and safe on the road.
- See the attractions.
- Eat heavier meals at night, nothing is worse than getting sleepy in the middle of your day.
- Save booze for when your bike is parked for the night.
- Pack the Essentials
- Clothes: If you don’t pack it, you’ll probably need it. Bring waterproof, well ventilated equipment. Consider a cooing vest, and extra layers for changes in climate. You may consider purchasing touch screen capable gloves for your smartphone.
- Maps: Use as a backup if your phone GPS dies, or for loss of service. Michelin Maps are good to use and are available on Amazon .
- Backup Battery, Bluetooth Equipment: Make sure you bring your GPS capable smartphone for emergencies, and for documenting your journey, as well as a backup power pack. They are inexpensive and can get you through charges. You may consider a Bluetooth enabled helmet so you can listen to your music or directions on your journey.
- A Toolkit, Fix-a-Flat and a flashlight or headlamp