The USAO ShowBand travels Oklahoma and beyond as ambassadors for the University of Science and Arts. The group is led by nationally acclaimed western swing and jazz guitarist and impresario Joe Settlemires, whose long career in the recording industry has brought new opportunities to USAO students.
The USAO ShowBand was launched in March 2002 with concerts at area colleges and high schools. Its outreach mission has expanded to civic groups, community fundraisers and state conventions, many of which are dances. The Showband also represents USAO at the annual Bob Wills Festival in Turkey, Texas -- opening the festival by playing the Thursday night dance. From western swing, country, big band or rock, the USAO Showband has it covered.
“I’ve worked with many professionals in my life,” says Director Joe Settlemires. “But, working with the students here at USAO is a truly an honor. The group of students in the USAO ShowBand is dedicated and they truly want to learn the craft.
I’m proud to be a part of this group.”
“The ShowBand is dedicated to providing quality entertainment,” says Donna Settlemires, who serves as assistant director. “We perform jazz, pop and country, trying to finding a variety of sounds appealing to a broad audience. We are excited to bring very talented students forward as ambassadors for Oklahoma’s public liberal arts college. We want the people of Oklahoma to know who we are and where Chickasha is located on the map! Many members of ShowBand are pursuing degrees in areas other than music. We draw a group of student musicians who take a lot of pride in representing their school and it does come across in their show. And more importantly, their work is for credit, so it helps them toward a degree. We hope it serves as a positive influence in their lives forever.”
In its first five years, the group has a wide range of music: from Sinatra to Santana, from the Dixie Chicks to Journey. Special theme concerts have showcased Elvis music with Oklahoma City vocalist Brady Odom and Motown hits and with student talent.
ShowBand vocalists perform over guitar, bass, drums, woodwind and brass instrumentals. In 2003, the ShowBand performed a special concert with Clint Strong, one of the best jazz and western swing guitar players in the country, whose credits include albums with Mel Tillis and Merle Haggard just to name a few.
This past Spring guest artist Monte Gaylord perfomed the with ShowBand. Monte is an amazing fiddle player whose credits include albums with Clint Black, and Brooks & Dunn.
A tradition is emerging in Bridge Creek, where the USAO Showband has become the annual concert event and fundraiser for public schools there.
Settlemires has performed on a dozen western swing, jazz and other albums with various artists. He spent many years in Nashville and Los Angeles, but recently returned to Blanchard to get reacquainted with his Sooner roots. Settlemires uses his unique style of jazz and western swing to arrange most of the tunes for the band. Joe is the youngest surviving Texas Playboy.
Settlemires first visited USAO in 2001, when music faculty invited him to offer a jazz workshop. He brought other fine artists to interact with students, and a love for teaching music was rekindled in Joe.
Settlemires makes his home in Blanchard, but for years has played in Nashville and Las Vegas with prominent artists like Willie Nelson, Della Reese and Bob Hope. His students include famous musicians in bands behind Merle Haggard, the Judds, Neal Diamond and George Strait. As a performer, he is diverse, having been featured in concerts with orchestras, jazz festivals and western swing events. Most of all, he loves teaching, both here at USAO and universities throughout the country.
The ShowBand is but one of 25 outreach programs at USAO, all designed to provide enriching educational and entertainment experiences for Oklahoma audiences.