North Texas Daily

Community celebrates local music, Denton Songwriter’s Guild during 5th annual Folk Festival

Community celebrates local music, Denton Songwriter’s Guild during 5th annual Folk Festival

Community celebrates local music, Denton Songwriter’s Guild during 5th annual Folk Festival
October 20
12:00 2022

A few raindrops did not stop local music fans from gathering around Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studio’s outdoor stage at the Denton Folk Festival last weekend.

The festival is put on every year by the Denton Songwriter’s Guild and celebrates bluegrass, mariachi, zydeco and folk music.

Ali Puckett (@happy_handcrafts_by_ali) displays her handmade candles and jewelry at the Denton Folk Festival on Oct. 15, 2022. Photo by Sarah Hogan

“We like to say [Denton Songwriter’s Guild] has been breaking writer’s block in Denton since 2015,” Matt Grigsby, festival director and Denton Songwriter’s Guild president, said.

The first Denton Folk Festival was held in 2017. Local songwriters had talked about having a similar festival for years, so it did not take much for the event to take on its own life when someone posted on Facebook organizing the event.

“There’s always been a good songwriting scene in Denton, and the scene was hungry for somebody to [put the festival together],” Grigsby said.

Denton Songwriter’s Guild is a group based in music education that supports local artists. The group holds monthly meetings where members share songs they have written and assign each other songwriting prompts. Occasionally, industry professionals are brought in to talk about the more complicated aspects of being a musician, such as copyright and other legal topics.

The festival does not serve as a fundraiser for the guild — money raised from the festival goes directly to the performers. The Denton Songwriter’s Guild fundraises throughout the year and has festival sponsors but most of the revenue comes from ticket sales, Grigsby said.

This year, there were 19 performances during the three-day festival, which ran from Oct. 14-16. Lauren Christner and the Round Up performed Saturday night on the indoor stage.

Elijah Mehl creates chalk art at the Denton Folk Festival on Oct. 15, 2022. Photo by Sarah Hogan

The alternative country group is comprised of Aubrey resident Lauren Christner, her husband Stiles Christner and her brother-in-law Ben Robertson.

Lauren learned to play guitar when she was in high school and met Stiles when she was 14. The two would sing together at their church before Lauren eventually began performing at local open mic nights.

“My whole life, [music] has been in me,” Lauren said. “I was really shy and I still get bad stage fright.”

When Lauren began recording her first EP in 2019, her stage fright discouraged her from performing. Stiles and Robertson, along with Lauren’s friends, encouraged her to overcome her fear.

“Really, performing wasn’t by choice — I was kind of pushed into it,” Lauren said. “I’m starting to enjoy it more, but it still freaks me out a little bit.”

Lauren is not a member of the songwriter’s guild but met Grigsby at an open mic night and was invited to be a festival performer. This was her second year appearing at the Folk Festival. Ahead of this year’s performance, Lauren said she felt connected to the audience and described the environment as “really intimate.”

University ecology junior Nick Medina was among the festival’s audience Saturday night.

“I’m really into folk music and I wanted to get more involved with the Denton music scene,” Medina said. “I thought [the festival] was a really great way to do that.”

Edgar Darby and his band soundcheck at the Denton Folk Festival on Oct. 15, 2022. Photo by Lauren Campbell.

Medina found out about the festival through a Facebook post.

“I’ve never heard of any of these bands before, so I just wanted to come out here and see what local music was like and see if I find a new artist to listen to,” Medina said.

The Denton Art and Performance Collab scheduled local vendors to appear at the festival. Ali Puckett, owner of Happy Handcrafts by Ali and founder of the DAPC, was among these vendors. Puckett’s business sells jewelry and candles centered around crystals.

“I get bored when I do one thing, so I just started picking up different hobbies and learning how to [make] other things,” Puckett said.

Puckett is a vendor full-time and does event planning for the DAPC.

The DAPC works to bring the Denton community together through art and music. They schedule vendors to appear at events such as the festival, hold pop-up markets at Rubber Gloves and have a presence at Harvest House, where they host their own market.

“I’ve been vending for a while now and I wanted to get into event planning because it’s hard to find a stable market every month,” Puckett said. “I got into doing [the DAPC] because I have more control. I put together the events and advertise them in a way that I would want them to be promoted.”

In the future, Grigsby said he hopes for the festival to become a camping festival, like the Kerrville Folk Festival. For now, he says he appreciates the festival’s slow, organic growth.

Featured Image: Edgar Derby (left) and Killian Smith (right) perform outdoors at the Denton Folk Festival on Oct. 15, 2022. Photo by Sarah Hogan

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Kaitlynn Hutchins

Kaitlynn Hutchins

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