Fry Street Ain't What It Used To be

north of the dial

The sidewalks surrounding the University of North Texas were teeming with people last Tuesday at about 9 p.m. as nearby restaurants, bars and clubs at the intersection of Fry and Hickory streets started filling up with students.

That morning, while the spring semester began at Denton's two universities, Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th president on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., and most of the bars and clubs in town were having inauguration or back-to-school parties—or some mélange of the two. But while great drink specials commemorating the first day of class and a new president were plentiful at those nearby establishments, live music was not.

At The Garage, the doorman looked up from his paperback book long enough to mumble something about there being a jukebox, and The Drink on Fry St. was offering "dollar wells and Top 40 music all night long" for their "Back to Class Bash." It was the same story all the way along both Fry and Hickory Streets—an area that was once the heart of Denton's live music scene and the home of Fry Street Fair.

Sure, there was plenty of stuff happening at the venues on the other side of Carroll Boulevard, but in a town known for having one of the largest music schools in the nation, one would think that there would be some sort of live music at one of the half a dozen bars and clubs still standing in the vicinity of Fry Street.

Nope. Not tonight. Not most nights actually.

Other than the very rare roof-top concert at Cool Beans or jam bands and the like that occasionally perform over at Riprocks, there's just not much live music to be found on or near Fry Street anymore. (Though, it should be noted that Art Six Coffee House a few blocks away has been doing a good job of hosting low-key, mostly acoustic performances by local bands and artists.)

On this evening, after an hour-long search for some hint of live music on Fry Street, the sound of a lone guitar finally penetrated the din of Top 40 tunes escaping from area bars. Nathan Allen walked down the sidewalk on his way home from work. Allen moved to Denton five years ago and has played in a couple local bands, including the heavily Explosions in the Sky-influenced In Dot Dat, but lately he's been working on some solo-acoustic material, as well as playing with the art-rock act Eyes and Ears.

"I remember when bands would be playing here on every night," he says, still strumming the strings of his guitar. "I guess I came in just in time to hear Fry Street's last dying gasps." —Daniel Rodrigue

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Daniel Rodrigue
Contact: Daniel Rodrigue