A broken guitar string did not stop the music at the Denton Folk Festival this past Friday. Holding a now five-stringed acoustic guitar, Jarod Grice, a soul artist based in Denton, and his band continued to play to a crowd that evening.
“Folk fest is about celebrating diversity in music,” Grice said to the crowd.
With the sun setting and pink clouds high in the sky, a cool breeze could be felt as the Denton Folk Festival jammed out this past weekend.
The Folk Festival was hosted by the Denton Songwriters Guild at Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studio. The festival spanned three days and is the only festival in Denton to feature Americana, bluegrass, world music and other folk genres of music.
The Denton Songwriters Guild is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit which brings the Denton music community together by inspiring songwriters, said Matt Grigsby, president of Denton Songwriters Guild and organizer of the Denton Folk Festival.
“It’s not about hitting a hit song and making a bajillion dollars,” Grigsby said. “It’s about getting your thoughts out there.”
Each month, the Songwriters Guild picks a song prompt out of a hat and then performs the songs they create together the following month.
After gaining traction with their songwriting meet-ups, members of the Songwriting Guild planned the first folk festival in 2017.
Grigsby said folk can be a broad term which encompasses several different genres such as mariachi or zydeco. Since Denton already has a jazz festival and a blues festival, Grigsby said the next progression for a music festival would be folk.
“Of those genres that influence so many people, folk makes sense,” Grigsby said.
Landon Taylor, chief financial officer of the Denton Songwriting Guild and teacher from Lewisville, said he was interested in creating the festival because he wanted a platform to feature different styles of music.
“When I think of folk music, I think of music from here,” Taylor said. “It’s people that are writing songs here [and] making bands here.”
Brittany Augsburger stumbled across the festival online when looking for things to do in Denton after her sister was able to babysit her kids last minute. Augsburger said she likes getting to support local people, especially in a town like Denton, and bringing her family along.
“I have two kids and I love getting to introduce them to different kinds of genres,” Augsburger said.
Floyd Kessler who performed with RW Ratcliff on Friday said it was nice to come and hang out with people again. Kessler also said he likes folk music because it can make a person vulnerable.
“There’s nothing you can hide behind,” Kessler said. “It’s just you and an instrument.”
Now in its fourth year, the Denton Folk Festival had more than 20 performers throughout the weekend.
Compared to the other festivals in Denton, such as the Arts & Jazz Festival which can bring in more than a million dollars each year and has seven stages with full lineups, the Denton Folk Festival is small, which Grisby said is done intentionally.
Being in Denton’s music community for a long time, Grigsby has seen organizers of new festivals try to do too much in a short period of time. Grigsby said they eventually want to turn the event into a camping festival and bring in national acts, but for now, they are playing it safe.
“Taking it slow and steady is the safest, right way to do it,” Grigsby said.
Grigsby said folk as a genre does not get a big spotlight, but the Denton Folk Festival brings the Denton community in to see something it does not always see.
“It’s the people’s music,” Grigsby said. “It’s cultural music. It’s not the most popular genre out there, but the people it means something to it means a lot.”
Featured Image: Jarod Grice performs at Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studios with his band for Denton Folk Festival on Oct. 8, 2021. Photo by Elizabeth Bulot