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Friday January 18th 2019

Smokin’ Okies

The “Smokin’ Okies” were formed in Sept. 2000. But all three members have known and played together for many years preceeding the “Smokin’ Okies”.

Back in 1989, Mack and Wes were in a band called “Sweetwater”. They were one of the best country bands in the state, having won the Jimmy Dean-True Value Country Music Show Down in 1990. They were state champions that competed with over 40 other acts. Sweetwater broke up, and along with Sweetwater’s guitarist Danny Harrison they formed “Lb. Salt”, a rock and roll trio. They played for the next two years. Mike was busy playing with various bands in clubs all over South West Oklahoma.

In 1997, Wes hooked up with Mike in a little country band call “Sage Brush Doodle Bugs”. They were a house band and played to a full house every week end. It was lots of fun, but it got old after a while. They hooked up with their piano player and had a rock trio for about a year.

In the summer of 2000, Mike and Wes invited Mack to a gig. Wes wanted to get Mack into the band (Wes was playing drums at the time). So, once again, Wes went to the bass and the “Smokin’ Okies” were born. Since then, they have played all over Oklahoma and North Texas. In 2004, they took second place in the State Fair of Oklahoma’s “Battle of the Bands”. They submitted their Demo CD, along with over 100 other bands, and they were one of the top three that were chosen.

Mike McGrew was born on March 8th, 1954. He started learning guitar on his 13th birthday. He first started playing in bands in early 1969. Those bands were “Soul” bands and they played the music of the day. Their names in order were;

“The Crystal Soul Ship”, “The Soul Centennials”, and (Most important) “Ebony And Ivory”. This band was well before the song of the same name! It was a great experience for this white boy. After graduating from Fountain, Ft. Carson High School, Mike moved to Lawton, OK. in the year of 1972. The band he was in then had to have the dumbest name he’s ever played under, “Orwig Hump”. This band played a mix of rock, (Hendrix, Jeff Beck, Chicago, ect.). Stupid name, but it was a fun learning experience. They lasted from 1972 until 1974. From 1975 through 1977 Mike was on the road with two different gigs. The first was called “The Billy Boyles Show”. It was a Las Vegas “Lounge Act”, but he (Billy Boyles) was a very talented person. In 1977 Mike was with a band named “Hollywood”. This band was a Funk-Disco band. The Funk part was fun, the Disco part sucked. It ended in Oct. 1977. Since then, Mike settled in Lawton, OK. and played in assorted variety and country gigs. His love of the violin made him learn the instrument. He plays it nightly with the Smokin’ Okies. Mike says that the most important band has been the “Smokin’ Okies” which got together in Sept. 2000. Mike is a “Musical Monster”, says Wes Blanton. “He’s the one I want playing guitar on stage with me”!

Born and raised in the great state of Georgia, Mack was exposed to many musical styles ranging from Country, R&B, Southern Rock and Classic Rock. He started playing drums at age 6 and is self taught.

He also began teaching himself bass guitar and piano for the past ten years. He has incorporated the piano into our live show. Mack has also done a lot of studio work with local artist over the years.

His recent collaboration has been writing music for an artist named Kathy Cisneros. Their album “Just Between You and Me” has been on CD Baby since 2008 and has sold many copies. The coolest thing is, they’ve never met in person having done all the piano and drums from Mack’s home studio then emailing them to Kathy in Florida.

Wes Blanton, our Bass player, started playing tumpet at age 11. And by the next year, he started playing the drums. Joining his first rock band at age 12, Wes found it no trouble getting the hang of it. Almost like he already knew how to play them. By age 14, he picked up the guitar, and a year later he started playing bass. Wes has sang from day one. Just as soon as he learned to talk.

He waited until he was 18 before playing in clubs, and has been playing in them ever since. He has played drums, guitar, and bass throughout his musical career, depending on what the situation was. He has helped produce some younger bands and is co-producer in the Big Pasture Music Festival being held on Saturday, October 9th in Grandfield, Oklahoma.

When you come to one of our shows, you get to see what over 90 years of musicianship looks like. Mike plays guitar, fiddle, and sings. Mack plays drums, piano, and sings. Wes plays bass, and sings. This is a brotherhood. We really enjoy making music with each other, and it’s always a pleasure to take the stage together. Hope to see you at a show when we’re in your town.

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