Let’s get one thing straight: I love Spune Productions’ Lance Yocom, whose contributions to the Fort Worth scene and hipster cachet are manifold and unmatched by any 10 club owners, booking agents, bloggers, journalists, investors, and supermodel nuns combined.
I love him, dearly, almost as much as I love the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, a veritable mountain of a cultural institution to whose heights we should raise hosannas every morning, noon, and night, such is the Big Box’s importance to our aesthetic health and overall joi de freaking vivre.
But last Friday’s Modern ’til Midnight shindig, produced by the Modern with help from Spune, was bittersweet. A couple hundred folks forked over $15 per person and piled into the Modern to party in the lobby, eat at the café, appreciate the art, or hang out on the sculpture garden, where a stage was melodiously tread upon by several bands – of which one, only one (Tame … Tame and Quiet), was from Fort Worth. Granted, the headliner was St. Vincent (née Annie Clark), a twee Dallas singer-songwriter who’s blown up, and not as many people would have come out if not for her. Still, there were several other opening spots on the bill that could have been filled by bands from the 817 but instead went to performers from Dallas, Denton, and, yes, the U.K., precisely Liverpool and London.
I’m not blaming anyone. Not Yocom. Not the Modern. Rather, I’m a little pissed that we live in a city where original local music is, for most folks, an afterthought. Were it not, scenesters and other local arts groups would not need to rely upon national or touring acts to raise the profile of our scene, our clubs, our art museums.
What to do? Nothing, really, but the next time all eyes are on Fort Worth, and the opportunity for the city to transcend its second-class status arises, our good, hard-working civic and arts leaders should try to act responsibly. “Responsibly” here meaning “with confidence in the quality of the creative culture in our backyard.”
We’ve dropped the ball a lot in the past. Exhibit A: last time Willie Nelson’s annual Fourth of July Picnic happened here in the Stockyards. Of the million performers and bands that played – not counting native son Willie – only about a handful were from the Fort, and none of them went on after 10 a.m. (Just kidding, but you get my point.) A local sponsor or other involved big-cheese should have gracefully inserted into the deal a caveat such as “OK, Willie, you can bring your AARP meeting, um, I mean, ‘picnic’ here, but 5 or 10 percent of the bands must be from Fort Worth.” Why no caveat? Because no one cares.
You may think the geographic distinctions don’t matter. But imagine a concert at the Dallas Museum of Art headlined by a native Fort Worthian (T-Bone Burnett, say, or Ornette Coleman) and with an opener from Fort Worth, one from Denton, and two from the U.K. – you can’t, can you? No one in Dallas – or Austin or Houston or any other city with any self-respect for that matter – would approve. Why do we?
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