Garth Brooks returns to OKC
‘Dive Bar Tour’ kicks off
The home-state reboot of his “Dive Bar Tour” was apparently something of a religious experience for Garth Brooks.
The Oklahoma native was left paraphrasing scripture Monday night after performing with his band at Oklahoma City’s venerable Diamond Ballroom.
“The Bible probably says it best that a prophet is least respected in his own hometown. Everybody here knows me, everybody knows I’m just a regular guy ... but I felt really special,” Brooks said in a Facebook Live video. leaving the show.
“No offense to everybody else
around the planet, but you want to mean more to the people from where you’re from. So, Oklahoma, I love you. Thank you.”
The Country Music Hall of Famer, who was born in Tulsa and grew up in the OKC suburb of Yukon, performed for 700 fans on the opening night of his 2021 “Dive Bar Tour.” But the only way to get tickets was to win them through OKC radio station 93.3 JAKE FM, a country music station owned by Tyler Media.
More than 2.4 million ticket entries were received for his OKC “Dive Bar” show, according to a news release.
OKC fan thanking lucky stars for last-minute tickets
Lacy Wooten, of south Oklahoma City, had less than a week to come back down to Earth after scoring her Diamond Ballroom tickets at the radio station’s last giveaway.
“As soon as they announced the show, I just told my husband we were going to listen and text in every day. We did the entire time — and we did not win. So, last Thursday when the radio station was out at Lucky Star Casino ... we drove out there, obviously expecting not to win,” Wooten said. “We drove 45 minutes ... but they ended up drawing my name. The whole way home I was basically just squealing and screaming in the car because you just can’t believe it.”
For Wooten and husband Ryan, Monday’s concert marked their first time to see Brooks live — and they were literally within arm’s reach of the superstar.
“He’s almost touching my camera in that one photo I posted (on Facebook),” she said. “He would come over and lean across the stage, and literally his sweat’s almost dripping on you.”
An experienced concertgoer who attended Alan Jackson’s August concert at Tulsa’s BOK Center and one of The Flaming Lips’ “Space Bubble” shows earlier this year at OKC’s The Criterion, Wooten said her ears still hadn’t quite recovered by mid-day Tuesday from her “Dive Bar” outing.
“It was super loud. But it was a good kind of loud. Everyone was just excited, and everyone that was there is a fan,” she said, adding that she was thrilled to hear Brooks belt his 1990s hit “Callin’ Baton Rouge.”
“Honestly, I teared up a couple of times. It was great, just the crowd, the energy, hearing the music and singing along with him on the stuff that I’ve sung along to for almost 40 years.”
“Oklahoma, I love you. Couldn’t have been a better honor or award than to have Oklahoma pat you on the back.” Garth Brooks
Contest winners team up to get tickets
Brooks went live on Facebook as he made his entrance on the Diamond Ballroom with his classic hit “Rodeo.” The crowd immediately started singing along, as they did with every other song on the set list.
“From the bottom of my heart, thanks for letting me come back home,” he told the audience.
Although she had seen Brooks in concert before in the ‘90s, Melanie Hinther, of Yukon, called the homegrown hitmaker’s Monday night show “the most amazing experience of my life.”
“It’s almost like you can barely even put it into words. ... I’ve just always been a huge fan, so my friends and I worked very hard to win tickets to go,” she said. “I had seen him a couple times in the past, but obviously in a large stadium setting. ... They were awesome as well, but just the intimate setting made it so amazing.”
She and three friends — Tori Harris, of Yukon; Cassey Thompson, of OKC; and Courtney Evans, of Edmond — used teamwork to win their tickets. They set up a group message so they could quickly start texting when they heard the signal on the radio. After about three weeks, Harris and Thompson won pairs of tickets back to back on the same day, and they invited Hinther and Evans along as their plus-ones.
“I would say a couple of the boyfriends were not very happy. But it’s just a thing you want to experience with your friends, and I’m super grateful,” Hinther said.
With the help of a pal in her hometown of Buffalo, Oklahoma, Hinther was able to get custom shirts made for the group in time for the concert. Each one was emblazoned with lyrics from one of Brooks’ songs.
“‘The Dance’ is one of my all-time favorite songs ... so that was obviously what I wanted to hear him sing the most,” Hinther said. “But I definitely had goose bumps throughout literally the majority of the show.”
COVID-19 comeback for Garth Brooks
Brooks’ “Dive Bar” show was open only to people who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 or could show proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test.
“Since COVID, I hadn’t been to any big shows like that, with a lot of people. ... All four of us had been vaccinated, so we weren’t worried,” Hinther said. “But it did put you kind of at ease knowing that they took that extra step to make sure everyone is going to be as safe as possible.”
In August, Brooks canceled five shows on his planned stadium tour amid rising COVID-19 case numbers. The Oklahoma State University alumnus subsequently announced on his weekly Facebook Live show “Inside Studio G” that he was planning on bringing back his “Dive Bar Tour” this fall in response to the pandemic.
“You can fully vaccinate dive bars. People have got to have their card to even get in,” Brooks said on that Facebook Live broadcast.
In September, he announced that he would restart “The Dive Bar Tour” in his home-state with the Diamond Ballroom stop. When requests for tickets opened up on Sept. 15, more than 10,000 entries were made in the first 40 minutes, crashing the Jake-FM app.
‘Dive Bar Tour’ a home-state triumph for Garth Brooks
The former Owasso resident originally launched his “Dive Bar” series in summer 2019 in support of his duet of the same name with fellow Oklahoma native Blake Shelton. Through February 2020, Brooks and his band played seven shows at honky-tonks, dive bars and other relatively small venues around the country, including Joe’s on Weed Street in Chicago, Buck Owens Crystal Palace in Bakersfield, California, and Gruene Hall in New Braunfels, Texas.
As with Monday’s show, tickets to all the original “Dive Bar Tour” shows could only be obtained through local country radio stations.
Brooks has revealed plans to take his “Dive Bar Tour” on the road through 2022.
But he said after Monday’s show that his home-state has set the bar high for future “Dive Bar” concerts.
“Those people would go all night, and they’ve been there since, what, 8 this morning? ... That’s crazy. That’s the way I want my life 24/7, right there. That was freaking fun,” he said.
“Oklahoma, I love you. Couldn’t have been a better honor or award than to have Oklahoma pat you on the back. It was really a sweet night.”