The Dentonite's Guide to Arts and Jazz Fest 2017

In Denton it's festival showers that bring May flowers. Entering it's 37th year, the Denton Arts & Jazz festival presents another strong celebration of music, arts, and food that is nationally recognized as one of the most relevant creative showcases in Texas. Rain has never stopped the fun before, so jackets and coolers need to be prepped in short order. Although we've prepared a list of what to check out, Denton Arts and Jazz is the kind of event that's guide proof. You can walk from stage to stage in the grounds surrounding Quakertown Park absorbing all the sights and then make a new friend with neighbors sitting nearby. 

The Essentials

Wear clothes that you don't mind getting muddy, and don't leave home without at least a  blanket to sit on. Think of anything you need to protect yourself from wet weather. That includes boots, umbrellas, and coolers to protect your food and drink. .

This is also the worst time to be texting and walking lest you want to end up knocking over someone's kettle corn before falling over into a random kid whose parents never skip leg day. Keep your head and bring a sociable nature along with you. It can be overwhelming to be surrounded by so many people, but Arts & Jazz attendees are a friendly folk of all ages.

Walking, biking, and ride-sharing is the best way to reach and leave the fest. An attempt to park could take a great deal of time while leaving you far away from the action anyway. But if you are walking from a far-away space, then there's no harm in pre-gaming at a bar on the way.

The Music

There are 7 stages that include cultural experiences and dance performances. When in doubt, walk around until you've found a band you like. That being said, here are a few performances that shouldn't be missed.

Jack DeJonnette, Ravi Coltrane & Matt Garrison - Friday 9pm - Jazz Stage

If you find yourself at a local watering hole chatting up a jazz enthusiast, this act is likely to be one of the top recommendations. Last year Pitchfork reviewed their album as "feverishly spellbinding." And yes, Ravi, is the son of the legendary John Coltrane. 

Freddie Jones - Saturday 4pm - Jazz Stage

If you've attended Dallas Cowboys games recently then you've heard Freddie Jones playing the trumpet for the national anthem. He's a local stalwart of jazz music that leads a captivating group of musicians.

One o'clock Lab Band - Saturday 9pm - Showcase Stage

In truth, you could do no wrong by staying at this stage all day to hear all the iteration of the UNT jazz bands. Whether it's the Two O'Clock or Nine O'Clock Lab Band these are all skilled musicians that are only going to get better. At 9 pm is when the premier ensemble of UNT's jazz musicians take the stage. 

Brave Combo - Sunday 7pm - Jazz Stage

One of the inaugural inductees of the Denton Walk of Fame down Hickory Street, Brave Combo remains a fitting closure to the main stage. If you've never seen them, it's past time to embrace their polka rock to kick out the jams.

Bone Doggie and the Hickory Street Hellraisers - Sunday 9pm - Celebration Stage

The party isn't over when Brave Combo leaves the stage. Bone Doggie is a fitting way to close out the fest. If you've drunk a few too many, it's more than worth it to wait out your hiccups while being soothed by the raspy vocals of Bone Doggie with backing by the Hickory Street Hellraisers.


We can already smell the sweet and delicious funnel cakes, turkey legs, and roasted corn. With lines and lines of food vendors selling your typical fair foods, expect to see many variations of cuisine ranging from: Mexican, Cajun, and Asian, to homemade sausage and jerky, fresh squeezed lemonade, my personal favorite - the Fried Green Tomatoes, plus wine and beer. The central location of Jazz Fest even makes it easy to stroll over to your favorite watering hole for a pre-fest mimosa and something quick to eat from your favorite food truck, or scoop up a growler of beer from the Monk. Make sure to bring cash, some vendors don’t accept card and those ATM fees are pretty steep.

Tiffany Johnson


The Children's Art Tent is a key destination for family groups. Here young'uns are provided a hands-on experience with a variety crafty construction projects. Next to the art tent is the Percussion Petting Zoo in which kids get to interact with a variety of percussion instruments from around the world. It wouldn't be surprising to find a few parents rediscovering their inner youth.

There are also artisans upon artisans granted booths to sell their wares. Some are established Denton artists such as Matthew Sallack, while other travel here because they know there's an enthusiastic community of arts lovers waiting for them. The fine arts booths are located inside and around the Denton Civic Center. Crafts items such as ceramics, clothing, and jewelry will be stationed on the north side of the park.

For a full list of performing acts, visit the Arts and Jazz website. The Dentonite strongly recommends doing whatever it takes to be safe as it pertains to drinking booze and taking cover under the threat of storms. Keep it fun and discover a new artist.

 Header image design by Christopher Rodgers