Does 35 Conferette Really Promote Local Artists?

Although it's entering its third year as a full-blown four-day walkable festival, the newly re-branded 35 Conferette can trace its roots back to 2005. That year, Chris Flemmons, frontman of Denton band The Baptist Generals, organized a day show in Austin during the week of South by Southwest and booked a handful of Denton bands he thought worthy of more widespread notoriety.

Six years later, the festival has grown exponentially, incorporating big-name national acts like The Flaming Lips, Big Boi, The Walkmen and loads of others into the monster lineups it offers alongside literally hundreds of bands from around North Texas. But now that the fest is coming into its own—even garnering some national attention along the way—have Flemmons and the Conferette's other organizers lost sight of their early ambitions? Is shining light on Denton's top musicians still the festival's main objective? Above all, though, how much does participating in the festival benefit local musicians?

Or does it benefit them at all?

The biggest deal at last year's fest wasn't the local shows, but a headlining performance from The Flaming Lips.
Danny Fulgencio
The biggest deal at last year's fest wasn't the local shows, but a headlining performance from The Flaming Lips.

"Becoming nationally recognized is a long-term goal, but the point of that would still be to help the local scene," says Jesseca Bagherpour, publicist for 35 Conferette. "We would love to be in line with the likes of SXSW and CMJ, both of which are huge nationally—and internationally, really—but are also still in place to help underground acts gain attention from industry insiders and from a wider array of fans. That's what I think the Conferette can do for local artists. And having national names play is a way of legitimizing the fest and bringing it into the spotlight."

It would be hard to argue against the notion that an overwhelming crop of indie buzz bands has helped make this year's festival the most anticipated yet. But one still has to wonder if the preponderance of attention has been devoted to the national acts, and whether it's at the expense of local artists.

"Bigger acts equate to bigger crowds, and bigger crowds mean more people looking for more acts to see," says Jaime Falcon, one of the folks behind booking talent for the festival. "We try to program the fest so that our locals are in the attendees' faces as much as possible."

Beyond just being put in front of bigger crowds, though, there are other ways in which locals potentially benefit from the exposure the festival can bring.

"Whenever we bring in bigger acts, we are bringing in their agents and other industry contacts who will in turn scout out talent, i.e. local and small national acts," Bagherpour says. "This has the same desired effect as having a 35 showcase at SXSW did—except in a bigger way because we are bringing the industry to the local scene."

So while Flemmons' original motivations may have been to spotlight Denton's abundant musical talent, his initial efforts were maybe a tad shortsighted. As it turns out, vitalizing the city of Denton as a whole just might be this most effective to way to stimulate enduring widespread impact to the North Texas music community.

"[The festival] puts a spotlight on the local music scene as well as the town itself, which in turn also helps the town's growth," Bagherpour says. "This year, it will be drawing people towards the downtown area, which I think is really the heart of Denton."

Which has kind of been the goal all along, Bagherpour says.

"[Our] goals are to enrich and foster the local music and arts scene and to improve the economics and quality of life in Denton," Bagherpour says. "We are passionate about Denton and the local music scene and we want to see both flourish."

 
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7 comments
Scott Whigham
Scott Whigham

We had this same discussion over at http://musicdfw.com/, a forum for the DFW area musicians. We could only recognize 5 bands that were on the lineup list as being local bands. Supposedly there were 135 "local acts" but we couldn't find how that number translated into actual musicians/bands by looking at the schedule. I think their definition of "local acts" and my definition must be wildly different.

We also tried to get 35 Conferette to give us press passes so we could cover it - do interviews with local bands, talk with the leaders - but we were denied. We specifically asked for press credentials to cover the local bands (rather than the festival as a whole). I think ultimately that is why we were denied.

Scott WhighamMusicDFW.com

No
No

If you were only able to recognize 5 bands as locals, then it seems quite obvious why you were denied press credentials. Really? Only 5?

Scott Annex
Scott Annex

Generally, the term "sellout" is used to describe someone who has compromised their values and integrity in order to make money. No one involved with 35 Conferette made money. NO ONE.

Scott Whigham
Scott Whigham

Yes, we, a community of about 400 local musicians and studio folks, recognized about five of the bands. And FWIW the press credentials were decided well in advance of the schedule being listed.

Scott Annex
Scott Annex

There were well over 100 bands from Denton, Dallas, and Ft. Worth, plus several more that once called North Texas home and have since moved away. Below is a link to an early lineup list that 35C had on their website that separates the locals. It's from January, so quite a bit changed from then till the time of the fest, but it still lists the far majority of the locals that played (and quite a few more were added after that list was released). Also, go look at the schedule on the 35C website. It has links to the bands' website/myspace/facebook. Sounds like you've got some catchin' up to do.

http://www.35conferette.com/bl...http://www.35conferette.com/sc...

Kevin_l_thornton
Kevin_l_thornton

You don't really know the Denton music scene despite your 400 local muscians (an obvious exaggeration because 400 ppl didn't have direct input on this). Your statement just told me to discount your entire site. I can name 15 bands, of friends, who played off the top of my head. Were you even there?

The stage on the square was almost strictly local, Dallas, and FW guys. Oh, and Zest for Yore which is a good friend of us Denton guys. They'll trade Austin/Denton shows with anybody.

 
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