Of all North Texas' music festivals, 35 Denton is unique. The magnitude alone is singular -- this year's installment featured several hundred bands. And when the festival's creative director (Kyle LaValley), talent buyer (Natalie Davila) and primary financial backer (Little Guys Movers) left their posts this spring, it appeared to many (including us) that the whole thing might simply disappear.
It will take a year off, but it will not disappear. Chris Flemmons, who founded the festival five years ago before handing off the reins in 2012, has returned to his post as Creative Director and has started work with investors, core volunteers and allies of the fest to plan for a return in March of 2015. "It's likely to pivot some," he says, but the basic ideas will remain in place. He does not seem particularly concerned about the loss of personnel, noting that he, LaValley, Davila and Little Guys are still on good terms. "This stuff is endemic," he says.
Little Guys left to focus on their own rapidly expanding business, and Davila and LaValley followed shortly after. LaValley is now working with the owners of The Hive, this year a temporary large venue at 35 Denton and soon to be a permanent fixture in the city. When LaValley announced that she was leaving in late June, Flemmons was on tour with his band, The Baptist Generals.
"Kyle did a wonderful job with the identity and branding of the festival," says Flemmons. So the groundwork you have seen will remain in place. The first priority is getting funding. They'll look for sponsorship and rely on ticket sales, rather than the kind of large-scale backing they were getting from Little Guys. "This wasn't something that was meant to work by patronage," says Flemmons. "I want to see it sustain itself."
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He's also continuing work on The Baptist Generals, who released a long-awaited album and are playing routinely, in North Texas and elsewhere, in support of it. Flemmons says work has started on new material already, and another national tour is in the works.
It's a lot to take on in addition to the burden of 35 Denton, but he doesn't seem worried. This festival's been through choppier waters. And besides, they have a year and a half to plan.
See also: The Baptist Generals' Revival