Welcome to Local Music 'Mericans, where we get to know the people more behind the scenes in Dallas/Fort Worth local music.
When it comes to local music scene contributors, Andy Odom is one for whom we made the call to bend the behind-the-scenes rule of this column slightly on his behalf. Odom's a member of our local music scene you can catch on stage, here and there, with the band The Hope Trust. But, in the interest of wanting to share his story (and his huge local contributions, especially with 35 Denton), we're going to look the other way this week.
Yep, Odom is one of the guys swinging for the fences for our local cause. He spent time as a contributor right here at the Observer for a good spell, as well for the ambitious Denton local 'zine, Dentoneer. But nowadays, it would seem there's no more of a time-consuming venture on his plate than the upcoming edition of 35Conferette, Denton's notorious and lauded music festival. Sure, it's gone through some name changes and yearly tweaks, but for the most part, it's gone nowhere but up, thanks largely to Andy Odom, its director of social media, and our subject this week.
The Dentoneer looks like fun. The niche feel, the intimacy of just focusing on such a small but very cultured arts community. Is it? Do you get the kind of response you're hoping for?
Ah, I'm glad you started there. I actually stepped back from Dentoneer a few weeks ago due to some non-Dentoneer-related issues going on that I had to deal with. But I'm contributing where I can and eager to write more. I have a website that I've used as an archive or portfolio for stuff I wrote for the Observer and other places called DistinctlySmartWax.com, and I might do something different with that. I'm not sure what it'll look like yet, though. But, back to Dentoneer -- focusing on a small, closely connected community like Denton is great, but it's also tough. There's only so much to write about sometimes. But Dentoneer never claimed to be exclusively about Denton so it widens its focus when it needs to just like other blogs, including DC9 At Night.
We have gotten really good response though. People around town seem to get what we were going for and have been pretty positive towards it for the most part.
Were you a music geek from the moment of birth? What started you off?
I think I was, it just took me a while to realize it. My mother was our church organist growing up, and she was a music teacher at a local elementary school, so I was always around it. I've always been a bit of a classicist, too. When I started to become interested in music as a kid, I wanted to build a library and get a solid musical vocabulary, so I would take my allowance to Sam Goody in the mall and buy old Dylan albums. I didn't know where else to start. I still have the copy of Blonde on Blonde I bought in seventh grade. Then, I started playing music in high school, and I still play in The Hope Trust, so I've never looked back. It's an addiction.
I havent been to 35 Denton since the one starring the Lips. It was great then! I can imagine you guys, knowing how much it's a labor of love for you, have taken it to a new level every year. What's new for 2012?
Well, that's the goal. And each year has been different, sometimes out of necessity and other times out of true growth. The biggest changes this year are organizational. The city is becoming more and more supportive -- both the citizens and the government -- and we have a great team of investors that are helping us in this labor of love. Another change from previous years is that 2012 is the first year that things will look a lot like the previous year. Each year the festival has had some new look or twist, beyond the name thing of course. This year, the outdoor stages off the Square are back, so it's about expanding the experience instead of re-imagining the whole thing again. Other than that, I can't say much more about 35 Denton 2012, but we have a few big surprises coming.
Share with us your plan of attack for promotion of the event. Everything short of Andy's secret recipes for success, if you like.
Even though we've been around for a few years, the biggest challenge with 35 Denton is still getting the word out, so that's the main thing I concentrate on. And, since we focus on emerging and indie artists that a lot of people may not have heard of, I also like to post about our performers as much as possible so people get an idea of what to expect.
The main thing for me is to have the online presence of the festival be a real presence, a tangible thing that the community can interact with and rely on. It's not just about selling wristbands or marketing, it's about being a good steward of this thing that's of the community, by the community. Dentonites in particular have a strong connection to the festival because they feel a strong connection with Denton. It's really a wonderful thing, but it's also something we all take very seriously.
Rave about some bands from DFW you love, starting with ones from the past.
Well, from the past I have to pick Sorta. I still love that band. There are a few others that aren't around anymore that I enjoyed, and were great bands, but few have stayed with me as strongly as Sorta.
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How about brand new acts? Maybe ones so new theyve recived practically no exposure beyond some small shows?
I'm loving Sealion and Soviet. I think Air Review's latest stuff is pretty great. Menkena, Sundress, and Peopleodian are some other bands I'm really in to. I'm also really excited about Coves. It's the new band with Caleb Ian Campbell from The Polycorns.
It seems like the distance between Dallas, Fort Worth, and Denton are a hindrance, and present our local music scene with fragmentation problems. True, in your opinion?
I don't really buy into the whole fragmented narrative. I think once you set that up it creates space to manufacture some drama; "this scene" vs. "that scene." That's great for getting clicks on a blog or something, but I'm not sure that really reflects the reality of what's going on in the DFW scene.
I know of too many artists that perform together, or are in different bands together, or play on each other's albums from all over DFW. There's an extended community of musicians from Dallas, Fort Worth, and Denton like an extended family.
At the same time, however, I don't think you'd want to fix any "fragmentation" that is there. Within this extended family there are closer-knit "nuclear families" in Dallas and Denton and Fort Worth, and I don't think that's something that needs fixing. That kind of tribal, in-the-trenches mentality is natural and, I think, healthy to a degree. It helps establish a voice and an identity to a group, and if all these bands and communities were somehow forced to be mashed together into some kind of DFW music stew, you could lose a lot of what's unique about each community.