As much as we would like it to be, the North Texas New Music Festival will never be South by Southwest. But that's OK, because its lower profile allows attendees to focus on what's really important: the bands. Not free drinks or rumored special guests or industry shop talk or any of that other shiznit that comes with the territory when so many members of the music biz take a paid vacation in your city. And trust us, A&R Reps Gone Wild would not be a very sexy DVD.
That said, it's still a pretty decent showcase for up-and-comers. At least one band every year runs the table, surprising the field on its way to bigger and better; Drowning Pool cemented its deal with Wind-Up Records at the shindig a few years ago. Last year, the North Texas New Music Festival was Eisley's big coming-out party, at least locally.
The group made a name for itself at last year's Cornerstone Festival in Illinois and had built a local following through its performances at The Door. But the New Music Festival is where everyone had to give up and give in. NTNMF organizers had enough foresight to book MossEisley (as they were known at the time) in the Gypsy Tea Room's ballroom.
It was the start of a winning streak that hasn't stopped: They signed a record contract with Warner Bros., went on tour with Coldplay (twice) and (on a much lesser note) picked up the Best New Act trophy at this year's Dallas Observer Music Awards. Did it happen because of the North Texas New Music Festival? Not really. The stars were already aligning at that point. But it was an important step on the way, establishing a D-FW bedrock to support everything else.
Who is poised to take a similar step at the 2003 installment, scheduled for October 2 through October 5 in Deep Ellum? Tough to tell. Midlake, perhaps, maybe Far Star or Radiant*. Possibly OHNO. Looking over this year's lineup (www.newmusicfestival.com), parity seems to reign. If we were the gambling type--and we haven't been, not since Ken Norton's interception return for a TD knocked us out of the office pool in 1993--we'd put our money on DV8, based on two things. Which also happen to apply to Eisley.
1) It's a great story. This pop-punk trio from Midlothian (a small town 40 minutes from downtown Dallas) has been playing since March of last year. No big deal so far, right? Well, singer-guitarist Cash Kelley is just 12 years old. And his bandmates are 13 (bassist David Sposito) and 11 (drummer John Cade). You could call them Sum 41, but their ages only add up to 36.
2) They're already on their way there. Jaret Reddick, front man for Bowling for Soup, is the band's manager, and they've already played in front of a festival crowd (Vans Warped Tour).
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DV8 performs October 3 at Club Clearview, sandwiched between Same Day Service and the Charismatics. Don't miss out this time around.
Thanks to the Texas Music Office, run by the extremely unappreciated Casey Monahan, you can buy license plates bearing the likeness of Blind Lemon Jefferson, as part of their Enjoy Texas Music series (www.enjoytexasmusic.com). The folk-blues legend was born in Couchman (a few hours away from the 214), but he made his mark playing on Deep Ellum street corners. The license plate campaign is designed "to honor artists who made Texas music what it is today, the pioneers who put Texas music on the map, so to speak, who greatly and profoundly influenced young artists, and to spark interest in Texas' musical history," the TMO says. "Every two years, there will be a different pioneer honored in a manner similar to the Postal Service's Legends of American Music Series collection." The plates cost $30 annually and went on sale September 30. As for who the next musician to appear on one of these will be, it's still open for debate; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with your ideas. Do not, however, e-mail us. About pretty much anything...
Hand stamps: A-TEEM Alumni presents Final Friday Hip-Hop on September 27 at Gypsy Tea Room, with the Strange Fruit Project, the Liquidmen, DJ Nemesis, Moon Cricket, Ill Relatives, Dow Jones and DJ Whiz T, while Curtain Club counters with its own hip-hop shindig the same night, with Dot Matrix, Red Element, Joint Method and Mes the JVT; Wurlitzer Prize is at Club Clearview on September 25, followed by Golden Falcons, Black Tie Dynasty (formerly Moxie), Tweed and Southpaw Preachers the next night; The Tah-Dahs perform September 25 at Double Wide (with Heaven is a Hotel and Regal Dime) and open for Jonathan Richman the next night at Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studios.