Lloyd Banks runs Rockin' Rodeo in Denton, but he's been perched up north doing live music venues for a decade and a half: national touring acts mixed with local and regional bands, not only as opening acts, but also plenty as standalone showcase acts. He's managed a band or two over that time as well, and brought in all sorts of touring HipHop, Country, Mainstream Rock and local acts of all sizes and flavors to Denton. He's seen a lot of crazy shit backstage, onstage and on buses...like, the singer of Quiet Riot putting his wig on, and Jason Boland barfing Jager in the sound booth. That's just skimming the surface. He's ready to share, so let's not hold him and his tales up any longer.
You've been doing your thing up there a long time! How many years now?
I have now owned clubs, bars and live music venues for over 16 years in Texas. Most in the great city of Denton, Texas!
Tell me about some of the artists youve worked with in the past at Rockin Rodeo, Groovy Mule and The R Bar.
Wow, I have had the great opportunity to see and get to know so many cool artists over the years. Some of my favorites were back at Groovy Mule when I went on a big old school kick and had some of my all time favorites like RUN DMC, Sir Mix a lot, Tone Loc, Digital Underground, Vanilla Ice and several others. Was crazy to hang with guys I grew up listening to. Then I turn around and have guys like Bowling for Soup that brought A Simple Plan to open for them then they blew up. The Toadies, the Nixons, Flickerstick my boys from Dollybraid and 40 Percent and Jason Mraz even played my old venue Reign Entertainment Complex.
A cool but sad story was Gary Stewart, the country legend, played his last show in Denton at my venue before he sadly took his own life. Jerry Jeff Walker and the early days of Pat Green and Cross Canadian Ragweed were quite a blast and a name that came out of Denton that started by playing little acoustic gigs at RBAR then playing my bigger room and now they play stadiums...the great Eli Young Band who I have always loved and happy to still call friends. I have a ton of great stories and have just had so many cool chances to see guys like Ryan Bingham that I got to Rockin Rodeo and two weeks later he won an Oscar....I have had a pretty cool life in music so far and it seems to keep getting better. I am so blessed to be able to bring people into Rockin Rodeo weekly now that I really respect as musicians that are also great people and have great teams. Corey Smith has been here a couple of times and is such a cool dude, Kevin Fowler, Jason Boland, Josh Abbott and really all the guys from the Texas and Red Dirt scene are fun guys to hang with and I love hanging out with them every Thursday night at Rockin Rodeo Denton.
Didn't you have a "prima donna moment" with Brett Scallions of Fuel backstage at Edgefest one year?
Backstage at Edgefest was always cool. I got big-timed by the lead singer of FUEL years ago and they recently played Rockin Rodeo, so I had fun telling him that story. He apologized, we had a drink, it was all good!
You have lots of stories. You should put them into a book someday.
I have stories for days but let's just say I have seen the best and worst of the business and when it is pretty it is pretty but when it is bad it can really be bad, sad and scary.
How did you end up interested specifically in music?
This will speak volumes to my age but my dad was a radio DJ when I was young and I remember listening to Elvis with him and other great artists of his time and we always had music in the house. Elvis was also my first concert which is pretty cool. I was very young but remember a couple of things about it. I just knew growing up how much music meant to me and when I got into college I remember coming up with the crazy idea that I wanted to own bars and live music venues. I never knew then what it would mean to my life and my future and all of the incredible experiences I have had. I have the most respect for these artists I have gotten to know over the years that started like most in their garage with buddies that write from their hearts and their experiences and now have really done something with their careers and are living their dreams. Nothing makes me more sad but yet proud when I can't get an artist back in my room because they are on to bigger venues. It stinks to a point but I am much more happy for them especially when I have seen them from the time they called begging me to play solo acoustic and now they are selling out five and ten thousand seat venues. I just love local music and try really hard to help the guys I see that are willing to work and are tough enough to chase their dreams in this insane business of music.
How far back does your history go in DFW music? Fond memories? Alternately, memories of rather dark or crazy moments?
Well I started at University of North Texas in 1989 and was always going to see shows in Denton and all around DFW and beyond. One of my best buddies little brothers was in a band and we followed them all over the place and saw some craziness. It was pretty fun for a college kid. I remember them opening for Quiet Riot in Galveston and going on the Quiet Riot bus before the show just in time to watch their lead singer put on his big curly wig...I didn't know that dude was bald! Was really weird and hilarious all at the same time. It was hair band days and he had none of it. Getting to meet and hang out with KISS thanks to this silly tv show me and my buddy had on North Texas Television was quite an experience. We drank out of some bottle Paul Stanley did not finish certain it would make us cooler. Pretty sure it made us all sick. Haha.Wow. This was in the days of The Groovy Mule, correct?
I remember not only owning Groovy Mule in Denton but I also managed local band Dollybraid at the time. They were really close to signing a big record deal and we took some wild trips to New York and L.A. but the coolest I think was the first time they sold out Groovy Mule. Close to 800 people for a band I had seen play to 30 people not too long before that. Local music is just cool and it saddens me that more people do not follow it like they used to.
Tell us about influences in your youth that helped shape who you are today. School experiences, especially..if any. Any music ties there?
Deep question...I am sure if I thought long and hard enough I could come up with some great story here but I am brain dead and it is Monday...haha!
Local music all-time faves? Artists, shows, songs, or all. As many as you like.
I love the Nixons, Dollybraid, Toadies, Bowling For Soup, Deep Blue Something, Tripping Daisy, Beef Jerky...man this could go on for days. That's just a few from yesteryear.
Craziest things youve witnessed at a show involving a DFW artist? List as many as you like, and share as much "dirt" as you care to.
The band Jibe played back at Groovy Mule probably 2000ish and Joe, the lead singer, at one point decided to just literally climb the wall and then start swinging from rafter to rafter. First it was scary for me and an insurance nightmare not to mention who he might have fallen on or what he could have done to himself. He was still singing during much of this and finally my head of security politely told him to get down or he would get him down. I think he was being nice but it was some tense moments for sure. I have seen more weird shit backstage than I care to remember. From strange pre show rituals to mother daughter teams doing things that are just not ok. Listen, bands are strange. They see a lot of things and sometimes like to push the envelope. It has gotten much prettier these days. Now a lot of these guys are health nuts and eat well and always need a gym to go to when they are in town. Back in the day it was how much alcohol can we have and then "can we have a lot more, please"?
One more story...probably 2003-ish. Jason Boland is playing Reign Entertainment Complex and he was still drinking back then. He played and played and played till the point his band begged us to just turn off the sound because he also drank and drank and drank during the show. While he was playing Purple Rain (funny enough) we turned him off. He probably played another minute or two before he realized nobody else was on stage and he was turned off. He walked off stage, best he could, and walked to our booths in the back. Puked what had to be a bottle of Jager on the floor, wiped his mouth and asked politely for another drink.
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If you were some sort of bureaucratic authority presiding over the decisions of the of local music/arts community, what changes/improvements would you implement? Are we truly a community? Do we support each other properly as a community?
Work harder. If you really want it, work harder and smarter. I get tired of people wasting my time who really are not in it for the long haul or are just plain lazy. People send me an email or leave me one message and then get offended if I do not call them back about booking their band I have never heard of. Work harder and smarter. Just because you made an event on facebook does not mean anyone is coming. Your mom and good friends have come to see you enough and they don't even like you. Be better. Before you call me looking for gigs make sure you and your band actually know how to play their instruments, and well. Can your drummer keep time at all and can anyone in the band really sing? And what are you singing? I am rarely looking for a band that sings great covers. I have tons of respect and have many friends who play in incredible cover bands. Their bands are good because they can play and sing and they do what they do well. I am usually looking for bands that write most or all of their own stuff, want to make the audience feel what they feel and are damn good musicians. It is also always nice when you bring people to your shows. I will promote and spend a lot of my hard earned money to get people to come see you and I expect you to do the same. It only works if the venue and the artists all work together.
Are we a community? We used to be and, at some level, still are. I just know I used to see a lot of bands helping each other out a lot more than I do today. Most bands would step on their buddies throats to get a gig these days and that is sad to me. I am not saying we all have to be best friends and it is a competitive market and business and only the strong survive the long haul but...I think we could all help one another out a little more. When bands call me they may not like what I tell them but I try to be honest and maybe send them to someone else I know books that music or might be looking for a band like theirs etc. I would like to see the bands pulling for each other they way they used to years ago and not beating each other up and talking shit about everyone else behind their backs.