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Denton musicians and locals take a stance on music venue closures

Denton musicians and locals take a stance on music venue closures

August 28
21:09 2016

The crowd at the Denton Music Town Hall was large, loud and ready for their voices to be heard.

After key music venues in Denton closed this year, more locals and musicians worry for the future of the city’s vibrant music and entertainment sector that has been a part of Denton’s brand for decades.

What’s next for Denton’s music scene?

“People just don’t want to pay and go see shows,” said Sara Button, The Dentonite Founder and Music Town Hall panelist. “It’s hard for a business to pay bands, pay overheads to open their venues, pay their employees to be there and then have 10 or 15 people to attend a show. You can only take so many losses like that.”

Angry mobs

Although Button said businesses are not profiting much from shows, the people who attend them have been expressing concern over the changes being made.

According to locals, some of the biggest issues the Denton music scene is facing are a lack of space and an increasingly smaller amount of venues for musicians to utilize.

Venues have closed because they can no longer sustain themselves with shrinking crowds.

Glee plays 35Denton at J&J's 11:00 p.m. Friday. Photo by Adriana Rodriguez/Intern

Glee plays 35Denton at J&J’s. File Photo

Midlake lead singer Eric Pulido said he has personally been affected by the venue closures. Pulido has not only played in venues all over Denton, but he also attends other shows and concerts of local artists.

“To watch iconic venues close their doors in Denton has been a tough thing to see happening, especially Rubber Gloves,” Pulido said.

The first venue Midlake ever performed at was The Rib Shack, which was located on Avenue B before the building became Oriental Garden. They eventually performed at Rubber Gloves, which was near the A-Train station downtown.

“Although personal reasons have played a role in the demise of these venues, the lack of support from the community to get out and see and pay for shows has lessened,” Pulido said. “You just have to dig in, get to work, and connect with the many out there that are willing to jump in with you.”

Bringing in business

Many people still feel steps need to be taken to liven Denton’s music spirit and Button said in some ways, local businesses can pitch in to help. There are many opportunities for places around Denton to be utilized as music venues, she said.

“I feel like there’s more of an urge right now in the community for people to find these creative spaces for people to play in the wake of having all the venue closings,” Button said.

There’s opportunity for businesses all around Denton to welcome in a new medium of entertainment, Button said. The closings of these venues are making restaurants and other Denton hot spots the ideal place for shows.

“We just have to think about the ‘where else?’ ” Button said.

An idea brought up by members at the Music Town Hall was the creation of a “DIY” music space, which members at the meeting explained as an accessible, low cost venue that is run by the community. 1919 Hemphill, an all-ages DIY space located in Fort Worth, was brought up as an example. 1919 Hemphill provides an alcohol and smoke-free environment for people ages six to 60 to see shows for $6 or less.

The establishment of a space like this, however, would be a huge economic undertaking for Denton because it would require donations, or some form of financial support. Some are in favor of establishing a GoFundMe for the project.

Another debate that coincides with opening a DIY music venue is whether alcohol would be sold. Some are not in favor of alcohol being served to create an all-ages environment.

Others, like Rubber Gloves owner Josh Baish, believe that not serving alcohol leaves out a huge group of people who would otherwise want to attend shows at the DIY space. Not serving alcohol would also to make it difficult to sustain the community music space.

“To become a legitimate venue, you have to make money. You have to pay your taxes. You have to pay your employees,” Baish said. “The expense is just tremendous, and the sure fire way is to sell alcohol.”

Another issue surrounding the possible establishment of a community space is whether to involve the City of Denton.

Michael Seman, a panelist and UNT Economic Research Group member, said that without even a little involvement from the city, finding new places to establish venues and a community space would be extremely difficult.

A citizen at music town hall speaks about the importance of music venues in Denton. The music town hall meeting was held on Monday at the Patterson Appleton Arts center.

A citizen at music town hall speaks about the importance of music venues in Denton. The music town hall meeting was held on Monday at the Patterson Appleton Arts center. Antonio Soresh | Staff Photographer

“Without city involvement, we’re not going to be able to find a space at this point,” Seman said. “It’s going to be too expensive to make something work. We need to all kind of come together.”

Regardless of the debated topics, however, many Denton residents can agree on the fact that something needs to be done regarding the music scene.

According to Button, whether or not Music Town Hall Meetings continue, those who are passionate about the issue won’t rest until something is done. She suggested first thing the music scene should do is organize a committee.

“We could meet [altogether] so the music commission can keep the people who are deciding the future of this city up to date with what’s going on our music scene, so there’s no disconnect there,” Button said. “[In the end], building something instead of settling for nothing is progression.”

Featured Image: Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studio was located at 411 E Sycamore St. 

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Victoria Monteros

Victoria Monteros

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