Full circle: Special Hop Jam brewing in Hanson’s 25th anniversary year

By | May 16, 2017

Tulsa World

The words “full circle” were spoken often during a group interview with the brothers from Hanson.

Let’s get some business out of the way before explaining.

Near the end of a lengthy chat session, Isaac, Taylor and Zac Hanson were asked what message they most wanted to communicate to the public.

Without hesitation, Taylor said, “The Hop Jam is here to stay, and it’s here because we feel like it’s part of the future of Tulsa and what Tulsa is trying to be.”

The Hop Jam is a fourth-year beer and music festival that will take place Sunday, May 21, in downtown Tulsa’s Brady Arts District. The festival was created in 2014 by the brothers, co-founders of pop-rock trio Hanson and Hanson Brothers Beer Co.

Hanson will headline the 2017 Hop Jam and, in doing so, will christen a 25th anniversary tour that will take the Tulsa-based trio around the world. More than 25 foreign and U.S. tour stops are sold out, according to hanson.net.

Prior to globetrotting will come The Hop Jam, a free-music, all-ages festival featuring performances by Hanson and other bands. The festival is divided into two areas — a 21-and-older craft beer area and the all-ages area. Purchase of a beer ticket or designated driver ticket are required for entrance to the beer festival. Beer and music VIP tickets are available at thehopjam.com.

Attendees will be a witness to Hanson coming — here come those words — full circle.

Hanson was formed in 1992. The band’s first “proper” gig was at Mayfest, which was held in the Brady Arts District in ’92. Isaac said there were about 10 people at the debut performance. Half of the 10 were family members, chimed in one of his brothers.

“Here we are in the same neighborhood literally a block and a half — actually not even a block and a half — from where we did our first show 25 years ago,” Isaac said.

But this time, the crowd will be in the thousands.

“So here you are, you are looking out at a great crowd of people who are there to have a good time, and you are able to be the person giving them that good time and giving them encouragement and so on,” Isaac said. “It feels extra cool to have that full-circle element of 25 years ago there were 10 people. And, now, look at this.”

The full-circle journey will include a special honor. It was announced Monday that Hanson is being inducted into the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame. Jim Blair, Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame executive director, will be present to induct Hanson at The Hop Jam. An on-stage ceremony will take place before Hanson performs.

Hanson didn’t just venture forth into the world to share Tulsa-born music (“Mmmbop” and the album “Middle of Nowhere” exploded onto the scene 20 years ago). Hanson invested in downtown Tulsa by setting up a headquarters down the street from Cain’s Ballroom and by creating The Hop Jam.

“Tulsa is part of our story,” Taylor said. “And about 10 years ago, we really decided to double down on being in this neighborhood and saying if we are going to be here, we want to be a part of it.”

The Hop Jam was launched with the intent of cultivating the city’s future. Perhaps the craft beer movement can be a part of that future. Zac, noting that Hanson’s HQ has a Main Street address, said, “Beer is Main Street, right?”

Zac said he has noticed something different about The Hop Jam this year. In years past, he would see people in the community and they would ask “So are you guys doing The Hop Jam this year?” Now what he hears is, “I’m coming to The Hop Jam.”

“I think it’s cool to see the festival has made a transition where people are not only expecting it, they are planning to be there and they are identifying with it,” Zac said.

And that’s what you hope for, according to Taylor. He wants Tulsans to take ownership in The Hop Jam. He wants Tulsans to feel like the festival celebrates them. There’s a reason why the stage is set up with the downtown skyline as a backdrop.

“It’s a lot cheaper to go to a field somewhere and set up a bunch of tents and put on an event,” he said. “But the long-term (aim) of The Hop Jam is we want to create a picture of the future. We want to create a postcard that allows people to say, ‘Live from Tulsa, live from downtown, this is happening.’

“It’s a little more complex to do that, but it’s so much more fun when, at the end of the weekend, we know that we haven’t just had a great event that we feel really proud of, that brought people to Tulsa. But we also feel like we can look around the neighborhood and people are going, ‘I had the best weekend. I had a great time. … This is a great thing for Tulsa.’ ”