North Texas Daily

Local music finds home at The Schoolhouse

Local music finds home at The Schoolhouse

October 22
22:30 2009


By Rachel Watts / Contributing Writer –
(Video By Clinton Lynch / Photographer)

Twenty years ago, Denton was a different place.

The bars closed at midnight, the kids were swapping mix tapes instead of files, and the Fry Street redevelopment turmoil had yet to surface.

Despite all of this, one thing that has appeared to remain constant throughout Denton’s shifts is the sheer volume of musicians: kids who itch for their voices to be heard and share a love of all things local — primarily music.

Like most artists, an outlet was needed to cultivate their interests, and Denton house venues emerged.

One of the newest house venues carrying the torch in Denton is The Schoolhouse, a quaint home nestled in a neighborhood near Texas Woman’s University.

“We always see people over there,” said Sean Keely, a computer engineering sophomore and neighbor. “We always know when there are bands playing because you can usually hear it. We don’t mind at all. We love being able to walk over and see who’s playing.”

House party

(Photo courtesy of Danny Fulgencio)

(Photo courtesy of Danny Fulgencio)

Charlie Hunter and John Jurado, the proprietors of The Schoolhouse, live and run the venue out of their home at 914 Bolivar St.

“I originally thought it would be fun to run a house venue just from going to other house shows around town,” Hunter said. “It seemed like a good way to see what’s out there, to scout out talent for our record label, and naturally, having a band come play in your living room is the best way to see if a band has potential.”

Hunter and Jurado said The Schoolhouse is actually the official music venue for their new record label, I Love Math Records.

So far, they have hosted five shows and begun recording a band called Spooky Folk on a four-track recorder in various spaces of their home. They hope to finish recording and pressing the album by late this year.

“There are so many different rooms with different feelings,” Spooky Folk violinist Petra Kelly said. “The attic has the best acoustics, and I love it. To me, this is our home, too. I think it makes everyone feel that way.”

A different kind of venue

(Photo courtesy of Danny Fulgencio)

(Photo courtesy of Danny Fulgencio)

The energy at The Schoolhouse is definitely different than playing at any venue, Kelly said.

She likes not having to struggle to get a show, and there is a bigger cross section of people that attend house shows than the venues around town, she said.

Chris Flemmons, creative director of Denton’s annual NX35 music festival and 22-year Denton resident and musician, reflected on his memories of the house venues in Denton’s neighborhoods several years ago.

“We worked jobs that didn’t pay anything, we lived together, we were too young or too poor to drink in a bar,” Flemmons said. “We shirked any immediate interest in playing at venues because our bands weren’t getting shows at venues.”

House venues fixed this problem.

“Our houses would become the cultural seats for our early influence on what later would be going on musically in town,” Flemmons said. “We built our own culture. It was ours and nobody else’s.”

Kelly said she feels lucky to be in such a creative community, and at The Schoolhouse, nothing is for profit.

“It’s based completely on the idea that artists want an outlet or want to showcase their music,” Kelly said. “And The Schoolhouse definitely allows that.”

The venue has been successful since its first show in July, Hunter said. In September, a writer and photographer for the Dallas Observer attended a show at The Schoolhouse and wrote a review for the Dallas Observer blog. Hunter said he hopes to use that steam to get people interested in coming out to support local music.

“Just being friends with so many of these musicians and knowing these crowds, people came out and were very supportive,” Hunter said. “One of the highlights for me was seeing nearly 90 people crammed into my attic, singing along to one make-up smeared guy with a guitar.”

The Schoolhouse is open to any new ideas or talent, Jurado said. Making money was never any goal of his, and instead, he sees it as a learning process.

Upcoming benefit

The Schoolhouse’s upcoming event will be a benefit show on Oct. 30 for the Denton Community Food Center. The price of admission is $2 or a food donation, and all money and food will go to the center.

The Schoolhouse has booked five bands for the benefit, including The Virgin Wolves, Bleach Boys, Dear Human, Parata and Western Giants.

A live painting installation will take place between sets by two local artists, John Finn and Orville Neeley. Hot Box Pizza on Hickory Street will donate free pizza to the cause.

For more information on The Schoolhouse, visit the venue’s Facebook page.

“The vibe is great, and every new artist I see never disappoints me,” said Brooke Day, an interdisciplinary studies sophomore and Schoolhouse attendee. “I am able to just sit, and listen to good bands with good people.”

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