Tulsa TV Memories      

Tulsa Coffee Houses of the Past

Tulsa Coffee Houses: The Later Years (1970-1980)
by Joel Burkhart, with reader and webmaster sidebars

With the exception of Bob Anderson’s "Speakeasy", most of these tended to be bars featuring live acoustic music rather than coffee houses:


Basically a small bar located in an apartment complex at 4949 S. Yorktown facing I-44. It featured groups like "Everclear" (Rance Wasson and Jim Munson) Johnnie Johnson's group and "Sons of the Boutineers" (bluegrass.) It wore out its welcome with the complex management after a couple of years due to overcrowding of the tenants' parking lot and reverted back to being a beer bar.


Located on the southwest corner of 26th and Harvard in a block of buildings since torn down to make way for Braum's Ice Cream store. It was originally a pizza place and then became Geno’s for awhile. Bob Anderson’s group held forth here for a few years before he opened his highly successful "Speakeasy" club. My bluegrass band, "Stoney Creek" also did a stint there around ‘72.


Another successful Bob Anderson creation located in the shopping center on the northwest corner of 51st. and Sheridan (5018 S. Sheridan). The second one, a few years later, was in a strip center on the northwest corner of Lewis and 61 St. Both places featured Bob’s group with some occasion fill-ins.

The Speakeasy, courtesy of Irritated Tulsan
1969 ad for The Speakeasy, courtesy of Irritated Tulsan

I (the webmaster) tape-recorded the following by miking our family TV in late 1971. I listened to the tapes regularly in the 70s, then let them lie mostly dormant until starting this site. From the Uncanny Film Festival and Camp Meeting on KOTV:

Speakeasy Singers

The Speakeasy Singers perform an original, "Home Cooked Meal" as part of their showcase. Nice. I find that it has stuck to my ribs over these years. Listen for Mazeppa's japes at the beginning and end.

Speakeasy Singers

Bob "Pinchy Cheeks" Anderson introduces the Speakeasy Singers: Barbara Jo Axley-vocal, Gary Benningfield-guitar, Eddie Bishop-bass/lead vocals, and Mazeppa-percussion/heckling. (RealPlayer help)

Speakeasy Singers

The Speakeasy Singers do another fine original by Eddie Bishop, "Crosses Made of Wood". Mazeppa sets up a Tuf-Nut commercial at the end.

10/12/2005: Bob Anderson is still performing with Bobby and Blue Ridge Tradition.

Speakeasy showcase album

The Speakeasy Singers
Notes from an eBay item:

"This is the 33 1/3 rpm record, "Saturday Night at the 'Speakeasy'". It is inscribed and signed on the front of the sleeve by Tom, Bob and Ben. It was published by Rite Records. The Speakeasy Singers were apparently a Tulsa, OK folk singing group in the late 60's. Songs include:

"Columbus; Gentle on my Mind; Lizzie Borden; Cripple Creek; Break My Mind; San Francisco Bay Blues; Frankie and Johnnie; Hey Girl; Four Nights Drunk; Rocky Raccoon; and Hey Lilee.

"Here is a 35 year old autographed record from a folk group probably long gone."

Joel Burkhart duels with Gailard Sartain

The main author of this page, Joel Burkhart, appeared on the Mazeppa show around 1973. This is "Dueling Banjos" with Gailard Sartain on "The Uncanny Film Festival and Camp Meeting". (From Vol. 3 of the Lost Tapes of Mazeppa, now on DVD at Mazeppa.com and reviewed here on TTM.)


Basically the last of the coffee house concept places, even though it featured mixed drinks, jazz, folk and Rock. Emily Smith (Big Emily) was one of the backers. Performers ran the gamut from Chet Baker to Vince Gill who performed there as a teenager with a bluegrass group from Oklahoma City called Mountain Smoke.

This link to the first Club Cards page takes you to much more about the Nine of Cups.

The Open Door Coffee House, late 1970s by Rickey Ray

Tulsa/OKC TV coffee coda

(from Guestbook 125) The webmaster said:

A commercial filmed for OKC-based Cain's in the early 70s was set in a nightclub, where a confident Vic Damone/Tony Bennett-type singer strolled among the tables as he performed this lush ballad:

Cain's Coffee

Let your life slow down
Take a real look around
Have a cup of Cain's
For the flavor in moments you'll savor

And then give yourself some time
For something easy on your mind
With a cup of Cain's;
It's a coffee blend you'll want
Again and again.

While singing and strolling, the coffee-loving crooner nodded familiarly at one table, making a horizontal circular gesture to the waiter, indicating they should receive a round of coffee on the house.

In the final shot, the camera changed focus to follow the gaze of the now thoughtful-appearing entertainer in the background (his hand mike at rest) to a steaming cup of Cain's coffee resting on a stool in the foreground.

Outhouses of the HolyLacking access to the original, the webmaster vocally "rendered" the tune from memory in one take, a cappella, on a WAV file for this site. David Bagsby picked it up, retrofitted it with a supportive piano part, and added it to his "Tulsa Project" CD, "Led Zebblin: Outhouses of the Holy".

Here, as an accompaniment to your own coffee-swigging, is our version of the Cain's Coffee ballad on MP3.

John Hudson lets his life slow down Hud Drinks Mud 11/10/2005: Discovered! The original Cain's Coffee ballad on MP3. The original Cain's Coffee audio can be heard on this spoof, lip-synced by Tulsa TV newsman John Hudson in 1974. Interesting how time altered my own 30-year-old memory of the tune; I'll call it artistic license.

Thanks to Wayne McCombs for the clip, titled "Hud Drinks Mud". Wayne says: "Back in the old days of local TV, the stations would sign off the air about 1:30 or 2:00 am. Sometimes after sign-off, the late shift staff would be working on production for commercials or station promotional announcements. Well, one night in 1974 at Channel 2, John Hudson did his version of the Cain's coffee commercial.

"The spot was recorded on the set of the Joe Krieger fishing show in the Channel 2 studios. Note the pants John was wearing."

Griffin's coffeeTo Serve Man Griffin's ProductsOr how about a cup of Griffin's Coffee, with "winey, rich quality and penetrating, full-bodied goodness"? Here is an early, filmed TV ad for Muskogee-based Griffin's Foods. Pay no attention to the 9-foot alien at the end of the clip. From the "8's The Place" page, courtesy of Mike Bruchas. (Download free RealPlayer software if needed.)

Tulsa Coffee Houses: The Early Years (1960-1970)

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