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Pop culture: Gary Busey returns to hometown, plays drums at Soul City

Pop culture: Gary Busey returns to hometown, plays drums at Soul City

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Actor Gary Busey returned to visit his hometown of Tulsa this week. The homecoming included a jam session Wednesday night at Soul City of Tulsa.

Playing the drums, Busey sat in with Don White, Steve White and Casey Van Beek as they performed at the gastropub and music venue.

“He is beloved in Tulsa,” Amy Smith said when asked about Busey’s visit to the business she owns and operates with her husband, Kevin.

“He graduated from Nathan Hale and played football there and a lot of his friends were here last night. It was just a cool, groovy Tulsa iconic Route 66 evening. It was great. We are so blessed to be on Route 66. We love it and magical stuff like that happens all the time here. We were honored to have him.”

Busey was in town to participate in a documentary project about historic Church Studio. Busey was a friend of Leon Russell, whose mythology is intertwined with Church Studio.

Amy Smith got a call Wednesday from Church Studio owner Teresa Knox, who indicated that Busey wanted to hear some live music. Knox wanted to know if it was OK to bring Busey to Soul City. When Busey showed up, he was of course recognized and many people in Soul City popped out their mobile phones to record when he sat down and started playing drums.

“He is such a character,” Amy Smith said. “He is bigger than life. You know that even before you meet him in person. He was wonderful and everybody that was here got blessed. It just made for a really funky, fun enjoyable evening.”

The performers who were playing don’t usually have a drummer, according to Amy Smith, but Jake Lynn happened to be playing the drums with them. “They were on break and Steve White came out the back patio and he said, ‘Hey, Gary Busey wants to play your drums.’ He was like, dude, OK.”

Amy White said she thinks Busey sat in for a couple of songs. She said he had that classic smile on his face.

“He had a great time. He always talks about Tulsa fondly. He has a brother, David, that comes in all the time and a sister-in-law, Jan Busey, that live in town.

David is an amazing musician. He plays the piano and toured with Steve Pryor for years in their band and several others. He is one of my favorite people on the planet. He comes in often and sometimes will sit in and play the piano. He’s mind-blowingly talented.”

She said video of Gary Busey playing drums at Soul City was posted on social media and generated a lot of response on Facebook and Instagram.

Jimmie Tramel 918-581-8389

Twitter: @JimmieTramel

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Scene Writer

I cover pop culture and work as a feature writer at the Tulsa World. A former Oklahoma sports writer of the year, I have written books about former OU coach Barry Switzer and former OSU coach Pat Jones. Phone: 918-581-8389

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