I don’t want to say that I expected someone involved in the local metal scene to take issue with the column I wrote last week, but I was not at all surprised when a DM appeared in my Facebook inbox. It was from Stephy Nicole Huffstutler Janvrin, who, as evidenced by the posts on her page, is a songwriter who also hypes local shows as “co-founder and media manager” of a promotional brand called Scorned Productions.
“I’d like to talk to you about your last article,” she wrote.
“Sure, go ahead,” I replied.
As of this writing, she has yet to continue the conversation, but I bet I know what she wanted to discuss. On Friday, Oct. 13, she shared a post from Chaz Buchanan, co-owner/manager of Haltom Theater.
“I just read an article in a local newspaper about the state of the DFW music scene,” he wrote. “They pretty much said it was dead. I don’t believe that at all. If you know where to find original music, it’s still alive and thriving. DFW has the most original bands and talent of any area. Most venues prefer cover bands, because that is what is familiar to most concertgoers. We are in a recession. People don’t have as much money as in previous years. Venues are competing for paying customers. If most venues are homes for cover bands, then those venues are battling each other for that audience. People enjoy comfort music that they know. There’s so many venues that cater to comfort music. Too many, I think. If anything, that music scene might be dying. … Fewer venues are set up for original artists. Those venues will last longer in the long run, I believe. The fanbase or scene for original music is more passionate than people realize. There’s more heart in it, more soul.”
Extrapolating from Stephy Nicole Huffstutler Janvrin’s share of this post, I’m going to guess that she thinks the DFW music scene is doing just fine. Clearly, she’s saying, shows at Haltom Theater or wherever else she and her favorite bands regularly play have been well-attended despite whatever else is going on in other parts of town.
She’s also definitely saying that we here at the Weekly don’t have a clue.
If my assumptions are close to the mark, then, yeah, Stephy, I don’t doubt what you’re saying. I’ve never been to a show at Haltom Theater, or Growl Records, but I am at least aware that both of those venues host heavy metal and hard rock shows often enough to suggest that doing so remains economically viable for the people putting the bills together. I think that’s more or less what Buchanan was getting at in the first part of his post, and the fact of the matter is this: The local metal scene is but one blind spot in our music coverage — talk to any local rapper, or country artist, or any other genre that is underrepresented in media coverage, and I’m sure you all would have several commonalities to commiserate over. Per this publication’s very name, we publish weekly. There are only so many artists and bands we can cover, and I do not doubt that there are more than a few micro-scenes within the boundaries of “Fort Worth music” that are alive and well and basically undiscovered, like an unreported species of salamander that glows in the dark or a secret tribe hidden beneath a canopy of jungle foliage or hand-drawn, photocopied gig flyers.
As a person who pays attention to this city’s music scene professionally, I want to know: Do the people who play in the bands that populate the local house party circuit or are known entities among Fort Worth’s legion of metalheads even want our coverage? After all, we as a publication always want to improve our reporting. We want to bring attention to a vast spectrum of issues and stories that would otherwise fly through time undetected. I find it exciting that this city has both a thriving underground hardcore scene and a dance music scene that hovers above the divide between IYKYK and common knowledge, but I also know how the comparatively mainstream attention of the local weekly might be unwanted if it draws too many Chads through the door. Heaven forbid we ruin your good time, y’know?
All I can say is that we write about what we think will be most interesting to our readers. And seeing as how I’ve been writing about this stuff for, like, 15 years, my lens is unfortunately tinted most heavily by my own experience — I’m not exactly “a deaf and blind reporter,” as alleged by some guy named Daryl Carpenter, but, yeah, sure, I haven’t seen it all. And if that bothers you, well, my only retort is to keep doing what you’re doing because either my fellow writers or I will catch on before you blow up, or you can bask in the satisfaction that you built a vibrant scene without the help of a local paper. And if that’s the case, I hope the people you do want to notice what you’ve been doing ultimately pay attention.