So a friend of mine’s got a gripe about this Fort Worth Music Festival, né Jazz by the Boulevard, at the Will Rogers Memorial Center in late September. My buddy, a local musician, is a little irked that the annual event has been booked over the past couple of years chiefly by an Austin company. And, no, he and his bandmates are not playing the 2011 festival –– Fri., Sept. 30, and Sat., Oct. 1 –– but, yes, even if he himself were booking the event, they wouldn’t be playing. Their music isn’t what you’d call family-friendly. So. No sour grapes here. Just a borderline-obsessive protectiveness of the scene.
And a belief that the folks at Camp Bowie District, the event’s sponsor and primary beneficiary, are clueless. I kinda see his point. For folks like him and me, who live and die by what’s 817-local and what isn’t, a major local nonprofit’s decision to seek out-of-town help is somewhat offensive, perhaps spurring some of us to muse, “Well, if insert-name-of-local-organization’s leaders would ever deign to come down from their ivory tower, they’d realize there are dozens if not hundreds of supremely capable souls right here in our own backyard.” But how often is our xenophobia valid? The first thing to pop into my head when thinking about out-of-town influences is Fort Worth’s public art program. Most of the pre-qualified artists hail from here, but many are from elsewhere (and, yes, Dallas and Denton qualify as “elsewhere”).
Ask yourself: Over the past couple of years, has Fort Worth’s urban profile grown appreciably uglier? Sure, some of the out-of-towner projects aren’t exactly thrilling –– “Avenue of Light,” anyone? But, overall, Fort Worth is looking better than ever, no little thanks to out-of-towner public artworks (and buildings). I’d also be willing to bet that a lot of local musicians and artists weren’t born or raised here. No, my beef with the Fort Worth Music Festival doesn’t have anything to do necessarily with the programming –– no doubt thanks to input from two Fort Worth booking agencies, Spune Productions and Overtone, the festival will highlight a lot of local acts, including Telegraph Canyon, Calhoun, and The Orbans. My problem is that the event’s title sounds an awfully lot like another annual local music festival, one that features nearly 50 bands (all from Fort Worth), takes place in the West 7th corridor, and is free. Initially, the thought that someone would try to piggyback on the success of our Fort Worth Weekly Music Awards Festival –– we had nearly 7,000 attendees last year –– saddens me. I’d like to think that we’re all well-intentioned spirits of light. Then again: We are talking about the music business. I’ve heard a horror story or two. Just kidding. Good luck, Fort Worth Music Festival.
Calhoun’s Aardvark show last Friday reminded me of the Acoustic Mafia, when once a month at the ’vark some of Fort Worth’s finest indie-rock songwriters –– Brandin Lea, John Price, Collin Herring, Kevin Aldridge, Calhoun’s Tim Locke –– would gather, inspiring all kinds of insanity: Jäger shots, yokels getting up onstage and singing along drunkenly, after-partying ’til dawn, more Jäger shots. Friday’s show was much more reserved, much more, but you could argue, convincingly, that Locke and company have never sounded better. The future, apparently, is now.
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