The City That Bands Together Grows Together

Ella Minnow is getting back together for their first show in three years. They could have played a show bringing the community out to Dan’s Silverleaf or Harvest House, but keyboardist and saxophonist Trey Price said that the band jumped at the opportunity to reunite and kick off 2017 with their set at Band Together Denton.

In the first installment of this festival, ten houses around town will be hosting local musicians January 20th and 21st. While house shows have long been a crucial part of the Denton music scene, the closure of venues like Rubber Gloves and Hailey’s has transformed the modest house show into a mainstay of the city and its culture. In closer, more personable quarters, one can appreciate the city’s musicianship while having a safe, inviting experience as an audience member.

“Having a new festival like this embodies that spirit on a larger scale, while still maintaining the intimacy of a house show,” says Ellie Alonzo of Sunbuzzed.

With fewer public venues available for witnessing Denton’s unique music scene, the city has begun a journey to rise to the demand for performance spaces. While our city has convenience stores and Indian restaurants that now host regular music events, spaces like Jagoe House, LiberDIY, Yellow Sub and others have become just as important in Denton. House shows are a favorite for some local bands, including Mink Coats.

“There is just something about playing on that level with a crowd, so much energy and interaction, that makes the give and take of the musical experience for the fan and band so much more intimate and fluid,” bassist Spencer Jones says. “There is a certain kind of freedom to freak out and move around with house shows that bar or venue shows seem to be lacking. You can really vibe with members of the audience and the band.”

This festival will bring more than music to an eager audience: it will recognize the houses that not only make this kind of event possible, but also contribute to a different kind of development in the city’s overall cultural scene.

“I find that the best shows are usually going down in someone's living room. The people who open their homes to artists year-round deserve some recognition and love too. I’m just really about how DIY this is,” explains Jabari English (aka Lil Durt) of Kundalini Kids. “By the underground, for the underground, is what this feels like.”

If one thing is certain, it’s that the fest will be mutually beneficial for all involved, and will add to the number of shows and active participants in the city’s music sphere. Sean Canon of The American Heartthrob noted that “it gives bands more opportunities to play for audiences that might not have discovered them, and to gain new fans and followings that will create incentives and motivation for bands to perform at house shows more often.”

Both old and new groups and artists, with tried-and-true and brand new material, will be on the roster. Kundalini Kids will be one of the groups debuting new music at the festival, promising that audience members will get the chance “to hear all [their] new music before it drops. No one is ready.”

The festival’s proceeds will benefit Mentor Denton. The organization brings volunteer mentors and human library participants to Communities in Schools of North Texas, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and Denton ISD. When planning their first 2017 shows, Ella Minnow's Trey Price found that the festival would “be more fulfilling for us” than a showcase show, as they can “support a local non-profit while having fun playing [their] first show in over three years.”

Price noted that some houses are looking to add bars and get large, regular tours stopping at their places. This festival could be the start of a decades-long trajectory for Denton and its ever-evolving music scene.

“This definitely has the makings of returning Denton back to a grassroots building of the music venue scene,” Price says. “It’s a good learning time for those who are ambitious and want to get their foot into the door of what will be the next twenty or so years of music and art spaces in Denton.”

Header image design by Brittany Keeton