DFW Music News

The Festival That Won't: Proposed Construction Along Trinity River Blocks Music Festival Plans

Earlier this week, Denton musician Jessie Frye accomplished quite the feat. She, like so many other area artists before her, had taken to Kickstarter to raise funds for her art -- in this case, money to help produce her first-ever music video. She figured she needed $1,000. So she asked for it. And here's the impressive thing: She raised the funds -- plus an extra 500 bones to be used for the project --in under 12 hours. Some kind of record? Maybe! A serious show of support from her fanbase? Absolutely.

The same has not been the case this week for Justin Spence and his efforts. Spence is a new name on the scene, but he's an ambitious type, for sure. His hope? To start a new, close-to-downtown music festival in Trinity Park modeled after Austin City Limits called the Dallas Backyard Music Festival. Like Frye, he took to Kickstarter earlier this week to raise funds for the event, which he hoped to hold in early summer 2012.

Unlike Frye, though, he came up well, well short in his fundraising efforts, earning only a single $100 contribution toward his $20,000 goal.

But Spence is quick to dismiss the notion that this means his festival won't happen; he claims the Kickstarter campaign was just a test run. He'll give it a go later. Problem is, he's more than likely going to have to wait a couple of years to get his festival going -- if, that is, he remains as steadfast in his claims that Trinity Park is the only place suited to host such an event.


As Robert reported earlier this week, the park is going to be unavailable for use in the coming months because of the construction of the Sylvan Avenue Bridge and the Trinity River Project -- work that needs to be done just as Spence hopes to hold his event.

Earlier this week, Spence was confident that, despite reports to the contrary from the Public Works department, he would still be approved for the temporary use and alcohol permits he was slated to pitch to city council yesterday. Late on Wednesday, however, his tone changed; Spence withdrew his permit request.

"Did I say I was confident we could get a temporary access permit?" Spence jests in a note sent to DC9 HQ on Wednesday evening. "Well, I lied. My confidence was shot yesterday. ... I had been in talks with one of the park managers for the past month about getting a temporary access permit. Their main concern at the time had to do with the parking. Where would people park? When I mapped out a way to arrange parking with some of the businesses in the area and possibly [American Airlines Center], they thought that was fair as long as we were comfortable with the fact that no one would be able to use Sylvan to park down in the levee. That seemed to be the only issue at the time. It was all sounding promising until yesterday. They called me and told me that they just had discussions with TXDot, Trinity River Corridor, et al., and no one was comfortable with allowing access to the park at that time. I thought I was making progress for the past month. I thought wrong."

Still, he's not completely discouraged.

"Guess we'll try again in 2014," Spence says, presumably only half-joking. "I wouldn't want to hold this festival at any other site. Festival goers could park at AAC and other pre-arranged lots along Turtle Creek/Levee Street and then walk, bike or take a shuttle along Hi Line Drive/Turtle Creek Boulevard to the festival entrance on East Levee Sreet."

Here's hoping he does try; coupled with the Homegrown Festival, the Dallas Backyard Music Fest, with its similar, all-local proposed lineup, would be a nice addition to the local scene.