What is good for any music in North Texas is pretty much good for all music in North Texas. So this weekend's Fort Worth Weekly Music Showcase is undoubtedly a cause for celebration. The free festival is this coming Sunday, June 23, and features 48 bands from Fort Worth and its immediate environs. Last year, Weekly Associate Editor Anthony Mariani figures, the festival drew something like 7,000 people. He brought the Showcase and its accompanying Awards with him when he joined the paper 11 years ago -- that first year it was five bands at the Ridglea Theater playing for maybe 100 people. Any new festival is going to start small, of course, but Mariani figures the growth of the festival has paralleled an explosion of musical talent in the city anyway. "I can only attribute it to the fact that Fort Worth has created a sense of community that allows young musicians to believe that music is serious thing to do," he says.
The Showcase will feature perennial favorites like Quaker City Nighthawks, The Phuss and Calhoun, but there are also plenty of vital up-and-comers on the bill as well: Mariani suggests you check out Sonic Buffalo, Ice Eater and War Party, among others. The full schedule can be found on the Weekly web site.
"Sonic Buffalo is my favorite new band," he says. "They are fucking badass. War Party is amazing. Missing Sibling is really melodic but still rough pop...." he could clearly go on and on.
Mariani moved to Fort Worth in late 2001 from Houston, but he grew up in Pennsylvania. He's covered the music scenes in New York, Philadelphia, Houston and elsewhere, but he says he'll take Fort Worth over any of them. "I don't know what it is about Fort Worth, but I've never seen a more fertile scene than the one here," he says. "Every time I think, 'There can't be anything better,' there are people pumping out this amazing, top quality stuff."
If he sounds optimistic, that's no accident. He describes his approach to covering the arts in general as, "a call to action. Negative criticism tends to highlight the writer's self-aggrandizement," he says. "We don't have the space in the paper to be ugly." That's not to say he likes everything. He just would rather spend the time thinking about things he does. "To take somebody's art seriously is empowering and emboldening," he says.
To read his breakdown of the extensive Fort Worth Weekly Music Awards ballot, check out his feature this week.
This weekend's festivities start at 4 p.m. at 8 venues in the vicinity of Lola's Saloon. "It's a real party atmosphere," says Mariani. "The bands get crazy."