LATEST BLOG POSTS

The Showman’s Hats

By Deborah McLaren | June 10, 2022

Leon Russell’s distinctive style, both vocally and instrumentally, made him one of the great singer-songwriters of all time. A unique pianist, composer, singer, song craftsman, and showman. He collected a lot of items and the most well-known were his canes and of course his hats. Those items certainly became a big part of his great showmanship in life and on stage.   In his biography, Leon Russell in His Own Words, shares a story of being shamed at the age of four. An aunt embarrassed him in front of other relatives, and he never forgot it. It was the onset of…

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Leon Russell: ‘Going Back To Tulsa One More Time’

By Jeff Mores | February 2, 2022

An amazingly detailed mural of Leon Russell – complete with the Master of Space & Time’s signature top hat and flowers – at 415 3rd St. in Tulsa. Every once in a while, you get hit with something big that you never saw coming. Such is the case with my discovery of Leon Russell. As I’ve come to find out, Leon’s music has always been part of my life. I just didn’t know it. And I’m not alone. Each year, I’m fortunate to have the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day off, so I’d been planning a day trip to Tulsa, OK…

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2021: Things are Rockin’ at the Church Studio

By Nancy Ruth | July 26, 2021

The Church Bulletin We’re getting so close, the wait is nearly over!  Drywall is up, the greenspace to the west has a landscape plan, 22 miles of wiring is in place – every board is screwed into position – no nails for The Church Studio!  The oversized elevator will hold your grand piano, and several of your friends. The digital and analog control room is state-of-the-art, including a Neve 8068 console, Studer tape machine and acoustical treatment at every angle.  Green Rooms, Listening Room, Bar, Outdoor Courtyard, Belfry – it’s all nearly ready. RECORDING STUDIO AUDIO ENGINEERING SCHOOL (ENROLLING SOON) ARCHIVE AND EXHIBITS…

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Q&A with Johnny “Blues” McDonnell

By Nancy Ruth | June 8, 2021

We met with Johnny Blues McDonnell; New Yorker, old-school LeonLifer, die hard Leon Russell fan, and The Church Studio supporter and promoter to talk about all things Leon! Johnny! Can you tell us a little about yourself? I’m a New Yorker! I was in retail for 38 years and have been retired 10 years. I’m not married. I am very close to my niece Nora, who is a music teacher and her husband Patrick who is a writer, my nephew Brendan McDonnell and his wife Rachel whom are both lawyers, my sister-in-law, Patty McDonnell, and Patrick’s father Lewis Boyton and…

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Traveling in Leon Russell’s Tulsa Footsteps – A Tulsa Driving Tour

By Nancy Ruth | March 13, 2021

There are several local sites of importance in Tulsa that are Leon-friendly.  Step back for an hour or two and follow your heart walking (driving) in Leon’s footsteps.

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VOLUNTEER SPOTLIGHT – BILL AVERY

By Teresa Knox | October 19, 2020

Bill Avery, Leon Lifer and a Church Studio volunteer, is a dedicated, knowledgeable, and fun-loving ambassador for the Church and for Leon’s legacy. Although he lives in New Jersey, we have been fortunate to have Bill travel to Tulsa, Oklahoma, and assist with concerts and book signings. Tell us about yourself. My name is Bill Avery. I’m 65 years old and was  born in Staten Island New York. I live in New Jersey now.  I worked fo the Rail Road for 41 years and now I work for a nonprofit called,  “Fulfill” which is the food bank of Monmouth and…

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Dwight Twilley, Legendary Power Pop Singer and Songwriter; Talks Leon Russell

By Teresa Knox | August 26, 2020

In 1974, Dwight Twilley was signed to Shelter Records and returned to his hometown of Tulsa Oklahoma. Once in Tulsa, Twilley and his bandmate, Phil Seymour, recorded at The Church Studio and had great connections and relationships with Leon Russell, Denny Cordell, and artists like Tom Petty. Dwight shares his insight in regards to the public image Leon Russell projected versus who he really was in person as well as his strategy behind his studio in the 1970’s. Please enjoy this LEGENDS video of the singer, songwriter, and artist Dwight Twilley, as he shares more stories of his time recording at The…

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Eric Clapton Gets Arrested!

By Teresa Knox | May 21, 2020

The year was 1975. Eric Clapton had just flown into Tulsa, Oklahoma to perform.  News of Eric’s arrival was quickly known for he had gotten arrested! The Church Studio talked with John Southern, a photojournalist and local musician, that captured the infamous photo of Eric Clapton in Jail.  From a first-hand perspective, check out what John had to say with our recent interview.  Before taking your legendary photo of Eric, what did you think about Eric Clapton and his working with the Tulsa boys…Jamie Oldaker, Dicky Simms, and Carl Radle among others? “I had been a Clapton fan since the…

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Leon Russell 1971

LEON RUSSELL PERFORMS AT DUKE UNIVERSITY in 1971

By Teresa Knox | April 22, 2020

We absolutely love our Church Studio family and the fantastic stories they share with us. In this photo series, we are featuring a series of photographs taken by photographer, Ric Carter. Our good friend, American Roots musician, and Leon Lifer; Bill Lyerly, introduced us to Ric. Thank you, Bill! Why are these pictures special? Well, these exclusive photographs that are from the 1971 Leon Russell and the Shelter People performance at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. What made this show memorable (besides the fantastic performances) was the charming commentary by Leon Russell. According to first-hand accounts received from attendees…

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TWENTIETH-CENTURY HONKY-TONK – Q&A with John Wooley

By Teresa Knox | April 14, 2020

Music writer John Wooley is at it again! This time bringing us the incredible story of the historic Cain’s Ballroom‘s first 75 years with his new book, TWENTIETH-CENTURY HONKY-TONK.  The Church Studio had the opportunity to catch up with John last week and chat about the new book. Read our quick Q&A below!  CS: Why is this book significant? JW: TWENTIETH-CENTURY HONKY-TONK is the first book ever to be devoted to Tulsa’s Cain’s Ballroom, one of the most famous dance halls in the world. And while much has been written, and justifiably so, about the Bob and Johnnie Lee Wills days…

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