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Denton Venue Backyard on Bell Closes Unexpectedly

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Backyard on Bell shuttered unexpectedly Tuesday, leaving many concertgoers of the beloved Denton music venue and bar taking to social media with speculations over why. Owner Scott Bonfield confirmed to the Observer that the venue closed for good, but declined to elaborate because of legal reasons. “We’re just calling it a day,” he said.

As people loaded stage equipment and other pieces of the venue’s interior onto trucks on Tuesday afternoon, an official statement confirming the venue’s closure was posted to the its Facebook page. “Backyard on Bell is closed effective immediately. We thank you all for your love and support,” the post read. The picnic tables still fill the outside area, but the stage is gone.

Denton Venue Backyard on Bell Closes Unexpectedly (2)Screenshot by Diamond Rodrigue

Earlier in the day, rumors ran rampant on social media as to why BYOB was closing. Some, who live near the venue, even expressed delight  because of its loud concerts. Most reactions have been mournful, however.

Backyard on Bell opened in 2016 and sought to be an all-encompassing events venue and food truck park, hosting everything from drag shows to weddings. Eventually it became known as one of Denton’s premier live music venues and hosted its third annual Backyard Block Party only days ago. While the venue wasn’t around as long as other great Denton clubs that have closed, like Hailey’s Club, it filled a void in the scene and created a safe place for all types of artists. This all culminated right around the time other clubs like J&J’s Basement quit hosting live music and the only recently reopened Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studios was still inactive.

According to the venue’s Facebook page, there are at least eight shows on the books that now will need relocating. Mollee Ann McFarland, general manager and booker for Dan’s Silverleaf, only a few blocks from Backyard on Bell, said she is willing to work with the bands who need to relocate their concerts and is saddened by the news.

“It just sucks to see a venue close right before the holidays. I just thought, ‘Wow!’ Now all these people are out of work, including the artists relying on the shows they’ve booked,” McFarland says. “The least I could do is reach out to see if I could relocate some shows. This is Denton, we are family and have to look out for one another.”

Chad Withers, general manager and booker for RGRS, said he worked throughout the day to relocate as many of the bands as he could to Gloves.

Backyard on Bell has hosted music festivals, two years of Denton Stands With Planned Parenthood, one of the first fundraisers for local radio station KUZU and former Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke during his Senate campaign in 2018.

The venue's backyard has hosted Planned Parenthood and Beto O'Rourke rallies.The venue’s backyard has hosted Planned Parenthood and Beto O’Rourke rallies.Diamond Rodrigue

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