What's in a name? Well, if you ask the three founders of the new local music series, An LBJ Experience, a lot of things. Take the name of their new organization: For starters, it's the acronym of their first names, Lee, Billy and Jesse. But its also, more obviously, the initials of America's 36th president and the Dallas highway that's named after him.
"What's the craziest highway that everybody knows of?" asks Jesse Porter with a laugh. He's enthusiastic, smiling from ear to ear and irrepressibly friendly, and that energy rubs off on anyone near him. Very appropriately, the three founders of LBJ sit with the gorgeous Dallas skyline as their backdrop. Their love for Dallas, its culture and art is positively infectious.
Of course, if these three have their way, An LBJ Experience will also do more than what a name might imply. The idea behind the project is to break down the barriers imposed by labels and even by personal tastes and perspective to help truly cross-pollinate all the rich corners that make up the local music scene. Or, to borrow the verbiage of its founders, it's the conjoining of three young professionals to invest in the progression of Dallas arts and culture.
Those three members come from their own distinctly diverse backgrounds. Lee Escobedo is co-founder and editor-in-chief of THRWD. Billy Lam is a graphic designer, filmmaker and all-around visual marketing expert working under the name Jetson Academy Productions. Porter is an expert on the local hip-hop scene and CEO of Cool Beings, a public relations firm.
LBJ was formed when Escobedo reached out to Porter and Lam, who had worked together extensively in the past. He was impressed by a Spotlight Series show they worked on at Prophet Bar and thought it was extremely well put together. He saw that they were combining artists with different backgrounds, from different areas, and creating a diverse fan base in so doing.
"These were the only two guys I contacted," Escobedo says. "I wanted this to be three young minority entrepreneurs, coming together with different talents, and doing something that's never been done before." He is an intense guy to be around. Everything he says seems perfectly calculated, and he always seems to have something on his mind.
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On November 21, An LBJ Experience will host the first event in a new series called "Artist 2 Artist." Local hip-hop heavyweights A.D.d+ and dream-pop/shoegaze band the Blackstone Rangers will perform in an intimate setting with interview interludes and video stories between songs. The two bands aren't usually prone to show up on the same bills, so the hope is that the event will bring artists from different genres together to also help bring their respective fans together. "It gives people a wider perspective of what Dallas has to offer holistically," Escobedo says, "instead of just genre niche."
This event was conceived with the fan's perspective in mind. Both of these local talents have opened for great national acts that came through Dallas. But now they are in the spotlight, shown in a different context, encouraged to interact with the audience. "We are trying to separate the line between audience and artist," says Lam, with a disposition that is humble and down to earth. "It's the story that makes the artist more likeable."
Leading up to the first event in the Artist 2 Artist series, LBJ will curate a showcase at Crown and Harp every second and fourth Wednesday of the month starting on the final Wednesday of this month, October 29. As with An LBJ Experience itself, the series will also showcase two Dallas artists of different genres. The cover charge will be a mere $3.
The LBJ EXPERIENCE with A.Dd+ and Blackstone Rangers takes place at 8 p.m. on Friday, November 21, at 816 Montgomery St., $10/$20 (VIP)