The Courthouse Square in downtown Denton
Be sure to check the Art & Seek blog this weekend for coverage on both NX35 in Denton and SXSW in Austin.
- Casiotone for the Painfully Alone – Born in the USA:
- Possessed by Paul James – Committed:
- Robert Gomez – Closer Still:
- KERA radio story:
- Expanded online story:
In the next two weeks, some 1,800 bands will converge on Texas. The vast majority will attend the South by Southwest Music Conference in Austin (SXSW), which starts next week. But starting today, more than 130 will be playing in the state’s other little town with a music conference: Denton.
Chris Flemmons is a singer-guitarist-record producer with the band, Baptist Generals. He’s also the creative director of North by 35 (NX35), the brand-new music conference this week in Denton.
The Baptist Generals, with Chris Flemmons (right)
Previously, to promote his town’s growing alternative music scene, Flemmons had arranged Denton-band music parties during South by Southwest.
FLEMMONS: “So we did that for four years, and that was enough. At that point, we wanted to come back here and do something completely foolish. [Laughs.]”
Flemmons noticed that many bands toured Texas the week before South by Southwest to get other gigs to help pay for the trip. Agents and journalists came early to scout out the talent.
So a piggyback conference made sense. And after Denton got national and international media attention the past few years, Flemmons figured the ambitious project could happen. In fact, the response has been strong. Out of town musicians include Casiotone for the Painfully Alone, an electro-pop band from Chicago, and Possessed by Paul James, a one-man bluegrass outfit otherwise known as Konrad Wert from Bandera, Texas.
Owen Ashworth, aka Casiotone for the Painfully Alone
[Music: “Committed” from the CD, Possessed by Paul James]
FLEMMONS: “You know, budget-wise? As a first year event, I’m pretty happy with the line-up.”
But Flemmons has a larger motive than just showcasing bands. He wants to help preserve Denton’s downtown.
FLEMMONS: “We definitely want to put a spotlight on the older part of town. This is the area where this whole music culture lives and breathes.”
In the late ’70s and early ’80s with pioneering bands such as Brave Combo, Denton’s music scene clustered along Fry Street. But in recent years, older buildings in that neighborhood have been bulldozed and redeveloped, sparking controversy.
Flemmons doesn’t want the same thing to happen to the courtyard square area where most of NX35’s venues are concentrated and where only a few buildings have historic-preservation status. He doesn’t want NX35 to go the way of other Denton-based festivals, either, like, well, the Fry Street Fair.
FLEMMONS: “I don’t want to see a lot of old buildings get torn out and new, high-rise housing put in. The central area of town, the older part, it could be messed up in very short period of time.”
[Out on Robert Gomez’ “Closer Still” from Brand New Towns]