By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
Truth be told, most musicians would be content to write songs, rehearse them and then walk directly to the waiting, sound-checked stage before a ready throng of appreciative fans. That tedious middle bit—where said stage and fans are assembled, venues booked, concerts promoted, supporting acts arranged and accounts settled—is where the "most musicians" lose the plot.
Michael Briggs, on the other hand, is the rare musician who thrives on all of it. Briggs and his friend Brent Frishman run Gutterth Productions, which, for the last two years, has put together more than 20 of the best Denton and Dallas billings with their Gutterth Live series. The events began as a thinly veiled scheme to allow Briggs' band Malise to share the stage with The Paper Chase, whom he had admired for years. That show was a success, and it occurred to Briggs that instead of waiting on the whim of local venue calendars, he could arrange the concerts he wanted to see himself.
"I put my favorite bands together," he says, "so I get to see my favorite shows."
Two Gutterth Live events later and Briggs, thinking big, took out a loan and booked The Granada for a show with five different bands. "It was a big risk," he says, "but it went really well."
The momentum from that show propelled Briggs, who has a day job as a web developer, into what has become, essentially, a 30 to 40 hour a week, pro bono obsession.
"It's not going to pay any bills," he remarks without a hint of regret. "It's definitely a labor of love."
After a few early Dallas shows, Gutterth Live events are now becoming a Denton mainstay, hosting shows every four to five weeks or so and alternating mostly between the Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studios, J&J's Pizza, Hailey's and Strawberry Fields venues. Gutterth also started a label that boasts a roster of Denton acts Daniel Folmer, Parata and New Science Projects. Now Briggs and Fishman keep busy getting CDs in stores, digging up radio and print publicity, as well as doing a bit of booking. Just as any good band needs a manager, any healthy music community needs the kind of structure and enthusiasm that organizations like Gutterth provide.
Briggs and Frishman definitely see themselves as filling a role that musicians otherwise tend to neglect. "I think a lot of bands don't promote themselves. Most of the best artists are like that," Briggs says. As to where the motivation for all this effort comes from, Briggs is clear: He and Frishman are music fanatics. "Music is my life," he says. "Every major decision of my life has involved music in some way.
"It's probably unhealthy."