I’ve still never seen Judah and the Lion in Stillwater

Back in April of 2013 one of my friends posted about a newly released EP called Sweet Tennessee by a band called Judah and the Lion. I hadn’t heard of them but I trusted my friend’s recommendation so without hesitation I bought it and their first EP First Fruits right away. I immediately became a huge fan and couldn’t stop listening. Those EPs were on repeat for months. I also began following them across social media for the possibility that they would be coming to Oklahoma to play. It would only take about seven months until I saw that they would be making their Oklahoma debut.

They announced that they would be playing OSU in Tulsa on November 10. It was a Sunday night, but it was the night before Veterans Day so I knew I’d be off work the next day. While I was aware that there is an OSU campus in Tulsa having attended workshops there for work, the main campus is a little over an hour away in Stillwater. Both are also a little an hour drive from my house, so I reached out to verify the location before I made the drive. I was committed to going no matter which location it was. They assured me that they were definitely playing the Tulsa campus. Well I made the drive and walked into the main hall of the campus and spoke to a really nice lady who assured me that they didn’t have a concert that night, but that she wanted to do everything she could to help me find it. Well it turned out that it was in fact in Stillwater and that they just weren’t familiar enough with the state. I was really sad that they were so close to me and I wasn’t going to be able to see them.

Luckily it wouldn’t be too long before they’d come back. They announced they would be coming with Drew Holcomb to play on March 31 at OU. Being the smart aleck I am I reached out to them and asked if they were sure they were playing at OU in Norman. Perhaps then it was karma that caused me to drive around for 30 minutes trying to find where they were actually playing and missing the first couple of songs from their set. I did finally get to see them and catch a glimpse of what was to come. After the show, I was able to meet Judah, Brian, and Nate for the first time. They were humble, down to earth, and interested in what I had to say. I of course had to give them a hard time for their knowledge of Oklahoma locations and their skills in providing details to their fans.

Since that show in March of 2014, I’ve been able to attend many more others. I was trying to count them up before Saturday’s show and I think that one made 15 total. Some of my best experiences were getting to volunteer to run their merch table. That meant I could bring someone to help me and I usually picked someone new each time to be able to introduce the experience to. Each show in each interaction with the band, inevitably one of us will bring up the Tulsa/Stillwater incident. During the February 3 meet and great at their show in OKC, Judah was talking about playing in Oklahoma and how they always had great crowds here. He then started to tell the story and stopped and asked me to tell it. It was a cool moment for me.

They say it at every show. Everyone who listens and shows up or otherwise supports them is family. I definitely can identify with that. Every interaction no matter how long or brief, has been like hanging out with my brothers. Their music is fun but the depth behind it is what pulls me in. I’ve had a big dream inside me for a couple of years now, and their songs “Suit and Jacket” and “Going to Mars” have been instrumental in me really pushing to figure out how I can see it come to fruition. Their songs “Seasons Colors,” “Hesitate,” and “Back’s Against the Wall” from Sweet Tennessee inspire me to keep pushing on and reaching out for help no matter what season I’m in or thought or feeling tries to come against me. Their songs “Reputation” and “Insane” from Folk, Hop, and Roll remind me that we all have our insecurities and struggles and we don’t have to worry about what others might think if we are ourselves and keep fighting to push beyond our demons trying to hold us back.

I will continue to support these guys because they have supported me in ways that they will never know. I feel privileged to have been able to volunteer with them so much in their early days. It gave me the opportunity to give a little bit back to a group of guys who have given so much to me by using the gifts they’ve been given. Nate, Brian, Judah, Daniel, Dylan, and Troy are beyond amazing musicians; they are men of amazing character. They have their flaws for sure, but they do their best to be honest about them and they’ve embraced their individuality which has created an amazing collective. I also have to mention their tour manager Adam. He always coordinated so well with me when I was doing merch and he is quick to encourage and compliment. He wants so much for everyone to enjoy the experience. He is a hard worker and the best at what he does that I’ve ever met. Gotta give a shoutout to Bruno too, he’s been a great friend for a long time and it’s been fun to watch him step into his role with the band. He has so many things to coordinate throughout the evening of a show and he does it all with such precision. I aspire to be more like him.

This past Saturday, I was able to drive up to Kansas City with my nephew Noah. Through much generosity we were able to attend the pre show meet and greet and of course the concert. It was a brief, but I was able to introduce Noah to the guys. I wanted to sit there and talk for hours and I know that they would’ve given that time if there were no constraints of a massive show upcoming. There were also other people in line behind us so I didn’t want to rob someone else of time with them. So fellas if you ever read this, sorry for being so short and awkward Saturday night in Kansas City. I so appreciated the bro hugs and the brief comments. Noah was thrilled to meet you. I’ll get you a photo of his proudly displayed guitar. Thanks for bringing Colony House on the road with you this time. It was a dream combo to me, but it also gave me the opportunity to take Noah to his first real big show with two of his favorite bands. I’ll humbly brag that I introduced him to both of you. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to hear the greatness of Tall Heights. They had been on my radar with their song “Spirit Cold,” but seeing them live caused me to seek out more of their music.

I’m thankful for the Stillwater/Tulsa incident. It gave me a memorable connection to what would become one of my all time favorite bands and a group of guys who have become family. Keep playing shows, and I’ll keep showing up as long as I’m around and you give me the right location information. I’ll be there as front and center as possible to show my support.

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