Tulsa drummer Jamie Oldaker spent last week jamming with Eric Clapton and others at Clapton’s Crossroads Guitar Festival in Dallas. While there, Oldaker chatted with Bill Murray, who apparently is a fan of a certain Tulsa writer.
Oldaker said he’s trying to recuperate from it all, but — no rest for the charitable-minded — he has jumped back into the final days of preparation for MOJOFest, a Tulsa music festival he founded with his wife, Mary Oldaker. (MOJOFest gets its name from their initials, M.O. and J.O.; the inaugural MOJOFest coincided with their marriage.)
Oldaker said 2019 MOJOFest attendees ($25 general admission tickets can be purchased at mojofesttulsa.com) can listen to great music, have a great time and simultaneously help those less fortunate. Scheduled for Saturday near the historic Church Studio, the festival will benefit Tulsa Day Center for the Homeless and The Church Studio Music Foundation.
The music lineup features the Subdudes, Ann Bell and the Gospel Hour, John Fullbright and Friends, The Golden Ones, Roots of Thought and Brothers Beckham.
Added cause for celebration: Oldaker is cancer-free.
For those who need an introduction, Oldaker is an Oklahoma Music Hall of Famer who has toured or recorded with artists like Clapton, Bob Seger, Peter Frampton, Ace Frehley and Stephen Stills. At the start of his career, Oldaker worked at Leon Russell’s Church Studio as a session musician. Bringing MOJOFest to the Church Studio, 304 S. Trenton Ave., for the first time is a salute to Oldaker’s roots and an endorsement of Church Studio owner Teresa Knox’s desire to continue to enhance the area.
MOJOFest is back after a one-year absence. The Oldakers skipped trying to plan and stage a festival in 2018 because Jamie’s health was a more pressing priority; he was in a battle with lung cancer. Now, as an advocate of cancer screening and awareness, he freely talks about it.
“I had four rounds of chemo and 35 radiations,” he said. “They burnt me up. They put more poison in me and had me stick my head in a microwave, basically. But I got through it and I was tough enough and strong enough and positive enough to get through it. People can.”
In the aftermath, the message Oldaker most wants to get across to others is get yourself checked. He said it hardly costs any money, adding that one local hospital does a check for $99. Save your own life for less than $100.
Said Oldaker: “My surgeon that did my thoracotomy told me ‘Our biggest problem as doctors and surgeons is we don’t see the patients until it’s too late.’ ”
Some people may be hesitant to get checked because they fear they might not like the result. Like it or not, find out before it spreads.
“You have to go,” Oldaker said. “You’ve got a 50-50 shot. There’s no 70-30 or 60-40. You either have a problem or you don’t have one. (You’ll be fine) if you catch it early enough, like I did, thanks to my lovely wife who had me go get the CT scan. I would not have done it on my own. We would not be having MOJOFest and I would not be speaking to you right now (if she hadn’t urged me to get checked). I guarantee it.”
Oldaker said he lost 10 pounds he couldn’t afford to lose and his hair. But his hair came back and so did he, with the evidence being his stage time at Clapton’s Crossroads Guitar Festival and the chat with Murray.
“He’s a huge Jay Cronley fan,” Oldaker said, referencing an author and Tulsa World columnist who died in 2017. “That’s the first thing he brought up. He said 'I love Jay Cronley.' (Murray starred in a movie "Quick Change," that was adapted from Cronley's source material.) He said he keeps in touch with his daughter some, still. He’s a big Tulsa fan.”
So is Oldaker. He could forge ahead without shouldering the burden of staging a festival. But he said this: “I want to give something back to the city where I am from. The city has been good to my career my whole life. Mary and I talked about it. Being a philanthropist doesn’t mean you have to have a lot of money. It just means you know how to raise money and how to get money to go to a certain cause. That’s all it is, and that’s what we want to do and give something back to the city, because I think Day Center for the Homeless is a good cause and I think Teresa’s music foundation at the Church is good for children that are interested in music and the arts.”
And that’s why Tulsa is getting its MOJO back.