Thursday, May 26, 2022 May 26, 2022
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What Comes Next for Denton’s Live Music Scene?

Can Denton chart a path forward after the closure of many of its most important music venues? Or is it doomed to "Wonderwall" covers at coffee shops?
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Photo by James Coreas.




Following the closure of J&J’s Basement, Rubber Gloves, Hailey’s, and Banter, people invested in Denton’s music community — talent buyers, venue operators, music festival organizers, community radio programmers, and more — are meeting tonight to try and answer a very pressing question: What now?

Christopher Kent Cotter, who put together tonight’s town hall, talked to the Denton Record-Chronicle about tonight’s panel discussion at the Patterson-Appleton Arts Center at 6 pm, saying he expects business owners and city officials to be among the audience, which should also include anyone with an interest in the future of live music performance in a town that’s long held tight to its reputation as a music town. Also encouraged to attend: Anyone with a good idea.

Cotter’s suggestion to the local paper of a 1919 Hemphill-esque DIY performing arts space, potentially funded in part by the city, is an interesting one. It would give local artists (and all-ages audiences) somewhere to go, and getting city funding wouldn’t be a huge reach in funky Denton, but such a venue might struggle to book out-of-towners at the level regularly brought in by Rubber Gloves or Hailey’s in their respective heydays.

There have been suggestions that musicians should find unconventional performance spaces (house venues and bike repair shops, for example) until the “venue gods” deign to open a new club, which is sensible, even if the “venue gods” line discounts the agency North Texas residents have in starting their own businesses or opening their own venues. Do we really want to wait for faceless, probably corporate, deities — or Jason Lee — to save the day?

It’s also worth noting that a number of live music venues remain in Denton. For a quick but very incomplete headcount, here are the nine venues that Oaktopia, this fall’s fantastic-looking music festival in Denton, will use aside from its outdoor stage:

  • Dan’s Silverleaf
  • Andy’s Bar
  • LSA Burger Co.
  • West Oak Coffee
  • Sprockets
  • Bearded Monk
  • Patterson-Appleton Arts Center
  • The Denton Courthouse Lawn
  • The LABB

Maybe the shows that used to take place at J&J’s, Rubber Gloves, and Hailey’s will simply migrate to these other venues in Denton, or, God forbid, to other cities in North Texas.

Or maybe the live music scene is doomed, and you’re going to spend the next 10 years in Denton listening to “Wonderwall” covers at coffee shops that charge $10 for a latte.

Whatever the case may be, you should chime in, either at tonight’s meeting, or the survey at the top of the page here.

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