Welcome to Local Music 'Mericans, where we meet some of the people behind the local music scene -- those who aren't necessarily members of local bands, but more the people who make the scene move.
James Shepard, known endearingly throughout the music scene simply as "Shep," has been running things at Denton's Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studio for roughly six years.
Shep's role is no light-duty position, mainly due to the fact that during the day, the place has one function and, at night, it morphs into a whole different creature. Between everything going on at RGRS, Shep's day could easily amount to the better part of 24 hours.
On top of this, Shep is a TCU grad student closing in on his masters degree in liberal arts. Oh, and he has a wife at home.
For those not yet in the know, RGRS is much more than a place where bands practice. It's a thriving local music community in one building, a live music venue at least as much as it is a rehearsal facility -- and an important one at that. It's an all-encompassing gathering place for the musically inclined who are looking for camaraderie and songwriting inspiration, and it's a venue with a crucial history of live music under it's belt.
Now, thanks largely to Shep, RGRS is also home to the Meme Art Gallery, whose art shows have featured the work of Centromatic's Will Johnson and Matt Pence, just to name a few.
To recap: In the daytime Shep runs one of the most popular rehearsal studios in Denton; at night, he manages one of the most important live music venues in Denton; he also runs one of the more popular art galleries in Denton; and he's a student and a husband, too.
How the hell does one man do it all? Can you imagine the interesting things he sees over the course of just a month?
Since no one can better describe this madness than Shep himself, let's let him do just that after the jump.
What led you this way? An enthusiasm for music? Management experience? Both?
I used to work at Lucky Lou's in town and, after a couple of years, and a couple of back surgeries, I decided to move on. Lucky for me, I learned a lot from that place and, when I recovered from the surgeries, I thought of Rubber Gloves. It was one of the first places I ever went to in Denton, and I knew the managers. So it was a good fit. About a year later, I was the manager. It's been that way for over five years. It is a great place with great employees. I love it! There is a lot that needs to be done between running the bar, collecting rent, making sure everything works correctly, dealing with bands and keeping the Fearless Leader of RGRS, Josh Baish, happy. Finally, when all that stuff is taken care of, I have to work on my homework for TCU where I am a graduate student, and make sure to kiss my beautiful wife goodnight. It is a challenge that I continue to welcome.
RGRS is a unique facility, conceptually. Does it work in reality as well as it looks on paper? If so, what are some fun examples of this you might have witnessed?
Many bands meet in and around Rubber Gloves, then move on to rent a room there and play their first show there. Record Hop, for instance, played their first show at open mic night at RGRS.
How many rehearsal rooms in the building? How many are full?
There are 10 rehearsal spaces, counting the Meme Art Gallery. Only one is open and I hope to have it filled soon.
Care to brag about some of the talent that's in the building?
Great bands have practiced here, and some still do: Baptist Generals, Centro-matic, Record Hop, Jet Screamer, Riverboat Gamblers, On After Dark, White Drugs, Pine Box Serenade, Bad Design, The Von Ehrics and many more. I get to hear bands daily, echoing through my office walls. It is welcomed most of the time.
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How about high maintenance tenants? Any you care to share with us that might have been a pain in the ass?
Since I have been at RGRS, I have broken up a few late night parties in the rooms, had to give some drunks a ride home, thrown some homeless folks out, broken up some scuffles, etc. For the most part, the worst part is renters paying late. Really nothing too exciting.
Tell us about RGRS' themed nights.
Well, let's see. Tuesday night, we have Singles Going Steady brought to you by Chris P. from Teenage Cool Kids. He and a guest DJ play only singles all night. Wednesday night, there is W H A T E V E R Wednesday with Gavin from Florene and Oleg from Zavod. These guys play New Wave, Synth Pop, Techno, Electro, Industrial, Disco, Electro Funk, EBM, Funk, R&B, and much more. Thursday night is Discipline, and there are about five DJs, but Andrew Haas from Lychgate runs the show for the most part. They play Industrial, No Wave, NDW, Noise, Coldwave, Darkwave, Power Electronics, Post-punk, Synthpunk, Post-Industrial, Gothrock, Neofolk, Deathrock and more. The weekends are almost always shows local and/or national acts. And our drink specials are the cheapest in town. For the most part.
Are there pet peeves/headaches associated with managing such a unique community facility?
It is horrible and I hate everyone! No, it is not that bad. There are headaches with everything. Nothing I cannot deal with.
What things do you love most about the local music scene you're working in?
The scene is ever-changing. Every month there is a new band in Denton. Some good and some bad. But, the point is, it's exciting! Some of these bands are great and right in the room next to where I do all my work. I do not see how anyone could get bored with the musical talent that comes through this town.