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The Student News Site of University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma

The Trend

The Student News Site of University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma

The Trend

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The Cleverlys (DWPAS Review)

Thomas Buchanan
The Cleverlys string bass player (second from the right) strums heavily on his featured riff in their bluegrass version of “Creep” by Radiohead.

The Cleverlys gave USAO a night to remember at the final Davis-Waldorf Performing Arts Series of the semester. This world-renowned group plays what they like to call “traditional” bluegrass tunes, but their setlist would make any listener do a double take. 

The group is made up of five members, each with their own backstory and character, which was all part of the act. There was a banjo player, who was the newest member, and a mandolin player, who only spoke in an Irish accent and had the outfit to go along with it.  

The string bass player boasted some exceptional beatboxing skills, and the violinist was dressed like he was Amish, but wasn’t conservative when it came to his soloing skills. Finally, there was the lead singer on guitar, who also engaged a bit with the audience. Besides the banjo player, the rest of the group sang harmony. 

The Cleverlys are organized like a traditional bluegrass band, and all the music they played was in that style. The irony was that each of the songs they played had never been created with that genre in mind.  

They played hits like “I Gotta Feeling” and “Let’s Get it Started” by the Black Eyed Peas in their country, hillbilly style. They also did renditions of “Party Rock Anthem,” “No Diggity,” “Thrift Shop,” “Milkshake,” “Love Shack,” “Right Place Wrong Time,” “Owner of a Lonely Heart,” and “Apple Bottom Jeans.” 

My favorite performance had to be their version of “Creep” by Radiohead, because the song has a very recognizable bass guitar part just before the chorus, which the string bass player played very enthusiastically, and was fun to watch. 

Their performance, while very unorthodox, was extremely entertaining. Between each song, the lead singer would do some stand-up comedy, usually poking fun at redneck stereotypes, which really amused the audience. I have never been at a performance in Te Ata where I laughed as much as I did then, and I’m sure many who attended could say the same. 

As the night went on, it became clear these were not amateur musicians; each performed very impressive solos as well as perfect harmony together. It is hard to choose a favorite, but the most stunning may have been the mandolin player, who really went all out. He had a very impressive range, singing high and long, and played some riffs so fast his hands appeared to blur. 

Each member got to have their own spotlight in the concert and showed that despite the irony of the songs they were playing, as well as the comedy act, they had serious skill. 

However, the performance would not have been the same without the hilarious jokes. If you are familiar with Saturday Night Live performances, you know that some of the funniest skits are the ones where even the actors crack and break character, laughing at their own jokes. 

The Cleverlys had a similar moment that night; throughout the entire concert up to that point, the group had been stone faced and serious with their delivery, adding to the deadpan nature of some of the humor. Towards the end, the lead singer made a joke that even he couldn’t avoid laughing at, breaking character and making the gag that much funnier. 

If you missed out on this experience, or if you attended the concert and want to hear more, the Cleverlys are on Spotify. They also sell vinyls of their albums for those who want to listen to their “classics” the traditional way. 


Thomas Buchanan is a second-year art major at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma.

Ray Thomas-Lapham
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About the Contributor
Thomas Buchanan
Thomas Buchanan, Contributing Artist & Writer
Thomas is a second-year art major  from Harrah. He is a euphonium player in the band. Thomas is an illustrator, comic strip artist, and member of the Art Club, UMA, and Ultimate Frisbee Club. His hobbies include working on his '79 Fiat X1/9 and trying to make time to actually draw.   Experience with The Trend: Contributing Writer: Mar. 2023 - present Contributing Artist: Aug. 2022 - present