A Week of Concerts in Denton, TX




This past February, I spent a month in the mythologized town of Marfa, TX, recording an album with Robert Gomez for a project which has since been named Ormonde. I returned to Texas last Friday (this time to Denton, where Robert lives) to work on final mixes. Since it’s his home studio and he has the better ear, Robert does most of the work while I hover nearby and generally approve of everything. I have also had time to slip out to several concerts, and will be playing one myself here in Denton in two days.

On my second evening in town, I ended up at the home of local musician Andy Odom (Hope Trust), where there was an intimate house concert lit with candles, pepperoni pizza contributed by Eric Pulido (Midlake), and Andy’s own home brewed beer. I had gone primarily to see a solo set by Jeremy Buller (who my band Trespassers William recently toured with), which was as creative and intimate as one could hope. Lots of loops and a zoo of guitar pedals, two mics set up that he stepped back and forth between, a brief appearance of an accordion just acquired for free that week. Closing the evening, Mara & Ryan of Bosque Brown took the floor with an electric guitar and pedal steel, playing their first pared down two-man set in preparation for their European dates next month. Mara’s voice was huge and pretty and they filled the room with reverb.

The following day, I spent a good six hours at Dan’s Silverleaf as there was a free outdoor concert of all local artists, followed by an amplified set inside the venue. I was already familiar with all of the bands playing, as Robert had schooled me on the Denton music scene. But familiar or no, it was one of the most impressive line-ups I’ve ever seen in one place. Dust Congress played first, with a full sized marimba and upright bass set up on the patio, singer Nick Foreman often playing banjo, drums, and singing all at once, and without a microphone. I had gone primarily to hear Sarah Jaffe, who played second, accompanied by Jeremy Buller on guitar and Casio, and a violinist who supplied some beautiful vocal harmonies as well. With only the electric guitar plugged in to anything, the three-piece had the audience silent and knit in a tight circle to hear Sarah’s sweet songs as the hot Texas temperature dropped. Third was a powerhouse of a solo set by Chris Flemmons of the Baptist Generals, who strummed a guitar that sounded like it was falling apart, shoes off, breaking into his first song by walking in circles around the audience with the opening lyric: “Shut your mouth…” Apparently Chris isn’t playing any more solo shows for some time, and it was awesome. And I am lucky.

Spent the next few hours talking shop with the aforementioned artists and members of Midlake. We moved inside later in the evening to see a performance by Matthew & the Arrogant Sea, also from Denton and signed to the local label Nova Posta Vinyl. Singer Matthew Gray has a voice as strong as a trumpet but awfully pretty to listen to. The whole evening of music impressed me enough to almost make me want to move to Denton. Perhaps…

I’ll be back at Dan’s Silverleaf on Saturday to play two separate sets. One for my solo project (Lotte Kestner), and then, for the first time, Ormonde.

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