Today I attended the Denton Arts and Jazz Festival in Denton, Texas. The location of the festival is a couple of blocks from the downtown square in Denton. This spot was originally an African-American neighborhood called Quakertown. Today Quakertown is a park where the people of Denton celebrate art and jazz music on the greens of the park and its surrounding facilities.
Denton has become a center of art, jazz culture, and music, especially since the University of North Texas’s music and art schools excel at honing the talents of countless musicians and artists. In fact the music and art schools are the crown jewels at the university. At the UNT showcase stage aspiring eagles played for large audiences, and many UNT talents appeared on the main jazz stage, such as the UNT Faculty Band and the UNT One O’Clock Lab Band.
Early in the day I saw Fortified Funk playing some classic jazz tunes from the Wes Montgomerycatalog. The trombonist in this band was laying it down. After eating some festival food I caught a portion of Island Boogie banging on steel drums. Then I crossed the festival bridge to see Dave Zoller leading his tribute band to Duke Ellington. I got to admit this was a highlight in the festival for me because I enjoy swing music from the big band era. Plus this tribute band was full of top-notch musicians, including a horn section with trombone, coronet, saxophone, and trumpets.
Then I flipped the script and saw the local indie rock band Oso Closo at the Bud Light Courtyard Stage. This was a talented band. Both guitarists also played keys, displaying their versatility. The bassist sang, and so did the two guitarists. And all three vocalists sang together. The guitar work was good and the vocal harmonies very nice.
Later in the evening I saw contemporary jazz artist Tom Braxton. The saxophonist is a smooth jazz staple as seen in such songs as “Open Road.” The Dallas-based Braxton, actually from the Lubbock area, played several tracks from his album Endless Highway. I especially like his cover of the America song “Ventura Highway.”
The festival’s headliners Jimmie Vaughan and Lou Ann Barton brought the house down with some Classic Blues. Barton has played music with Jimmie Vaughan for a long time. In fact she toured with The Fabulous Thunderbirds and Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble. Jimmie played the SRV classic “Texas Flood.” Lou Ann Barton joined Jimmie Vaughan for some intensely soulful tunes and a rockin’ version of “Boom Bapa Boom.”