By Jim Schutze
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Years of touring with Florene have given Denton's Gavin Guthrie a good feel for what it takes not just to be a touring band, but also to book one. Guarantees, travel costs, schedules, agents and everything else a band has to deal with can be difficult to get a handle on, so Guthrie's new booking company, Reverse Lion, certainly has an advantage in navigating this world.
As a talent buyer and booking agent for Denton venues like Hailey's and Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studios, Guthrie tries to book shows that combine underrepresented corners of North Texas music with out-of-town acts.
"My first order of business is bringing up amazing talent from Austin and Houston," Guthrie says. "It kind of sparked a little when I went down to South by Southwest and the most recent [35 Denton Festival], when I saw there was so much cool stuff going on and wondered, 'Why aren't these bands playing in Denton?'"
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He says he sees an empty space in the local music landscape that is vibrant and healthy elsewhere in the nation and the world, and he seeks to fill in the gaps.
"There's a lot of stuff out there that's not coming to town — a lot of New York and Los Angeles bands," Guthrie says, before listing off names like Umberto, White Car, Steve Moore and Gatekeeper — big talents without unwieldy guarantees — as the sorts of acts he has his eye on.
"Some bands I really want to bring, but I find out their guarantee and think there are only 15 to 20 people who know who this band is," Guthrie says.
He says the balance, therefore, is in finding acts that are unique but that will also get people through the door.
"Originally, I got in touch with a bunch of agencies that book artists I like," Guthrie says. "Now I'm trying to get in touch with artists for now that don't necessarily have agents."
The limitations this dynamic provides means that Reverse Lion has had to stick to mostly local bands, with a few Austin and Houston bands coming into town whenever possible.
"It's almost kind of selfish," Guthrie says. "My first show, which was Cygnus, Vulgar Fashion, Able Youth and the Kiwi Sisters, was just a show I really wanted to see so I put it together."
Despite the self-interest, his actions have helped foster a local community that is, admittedly, very small at the moment.
"I think I represent a little piece of the musical community and have similar tastes to a lot of people," Guthrie says.
Reverse Lion's next venture will be to bring up Austin's Xander Harris to Rubber Gloves on August 20 and colleagues Os Ovni to Hailey's Club on August 27.