Dallas knows that putting music and art together is oftentimes more successful than having an event that highlights just one.
The Nasher Sculpture Center capitalized on that idea eight years ago when it launched the ‘til Midnight series, where the museum stays open until midnight (as one would guess from the name), allows visitors to see the exhibitions for free, showcases a couple of bands and plays a film.
The monthly series, which until now has run only from May through September, is wildly successful and always packed — seeing several thousand visitors each event. Impressively, when ‘til Midnight coincides with the Arts District block party, the museum hosts more than 10,000 visitors in an evening.
Because of the program’s popularity, the Nasher announced that it would extend the series year-round (except for December) and in a doubly bold move, it’ll also expand the music programming by bringing in national bands for the first time.
The upgrade can be attributed to newly minted Nasher employees: Lindsey James, manager of strategic events and programming, who has an extensive background in event planning, and Chris Mosley, a former music journalist and critic, now the Nasher’s digital content manager, who stepped in to help elevate the music programming with his extensive background in the industry.
“At a nonprofit everyone’s titles are pretty fluid and you end up doing a lot of things you didn’t think you would,” Mosley says of his involvement with the initiative.
The expansion is especially exciting because the Nasher’s programming for ‘til Midnight has advanced exponentially since a new person came into the programming role about five years ago. It went from local cover bands when the series first started in 2010, before transitioning to acts that are relevant and popular in Dallas, like Sarah Jaffe and Sudie.
“[Kristin Miller Casner] opened the door for this to happen," Mosley says. "She started to book artists that people took seriously and not just a wedding band. I just saw that we could do this with the pretty much the same time and money expectations, but get national acts.”
To that end, he’s helped put together a lineup of bands that have played museums of the Nasher’s caliber. For example, in May the Nasher will welcome Vagabon from New York, who just played the MoMA PS1 in Queens and appeared in NPR’s Tiny Desk concert series.
“It makes sense to have the Nasher on the same level as some of the big coastal institutions,” he explains.
The connections in Mosley’s vast fast network were instrumental in elevating the Nasher series. One of them is Aaron Sainz of Savory Records in Los Angeles, who books bands for Resident, a venue in downtown L.A. The two met when they were employed by the same music management company in L.A.
“We worked a Poolside event at the Hammer Museum in L.A., and there were thousands of people there,” Mosley remembers. “That’s when I first saw that you could have a certain kind of band at a museum and get thousands of people to show up.”
Mosley also consulted with Chris Sakaguchi of Margin Walker, which books touring acts at Dallas venues like Trees, Granada Theater, Club Dada and Three Links.
“The great thing about working with Margin Walker is they know who’s going to be in Dallas a year from now. So they’re able to go through his list and give me possibilities and pricing, and I’m able to bring them a wish list and gather how realistic it is,” Mosley explains.
In its first month since Mosley and James took over the helm, the Nasher stage welcomed touring veterans Psychic Ills from New York City, plus local performer Francine Thirteen, who is one of Dallas’ most interesting and artistically complex musical acts.
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“When her band got off stage, they were taking photos with the Richard Serra piece, and I had this moment where I was thinking, 'This is really going to work,'” Mosley recalls. “To me Francine Thirteen is a great example of finding a balance finally between the art and the music. The typical coffee shop singer-songwriter can feel out-of-place at the Nasher.”
The next installment of the ‘til Midnight series happens this Friday, April 20, and will continue the third Friday of every month through November, returning in January 2019.
This month, Nasher visitors can look forward to Martin Rev from New York, an ambient synth pop act who’s influenced not only Bruce Springsteen and Lou Reed, but whole genres of dance and punk music. Warming up for Rev will be In Mirrors, a collaboration between Canadian poet Jesse Taylor and celebrated American record producer, Johnny Jewel, of the record label Italians Do It Better. Jewel’s produced work for soundtracks for Drive and the most recent season of Twin Peaks.
“It’s amazing to get these bands to play here,” Mosley says. “The art audience is more receptive to different types of music than the typical street fair audiences would be."