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Northgate Music Festival | Northgate Music Festival organizers looking for the biggest talent

Published: Thursday, June 5, 2008

Updated: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 19:07

Northgate Music Festival Committee members want to take the concert event back to its roots as it rolls into its 11th year.

Jessica Guidry, the festival's executive director, hopes to invigorate the spirit of the show by reaching back to its origins in the late 1990s.

"The festival has been going over 10 years, so there have been fluctuations in different parts of it as the students, volunteers and some business owners have changed," she said. "I unfortunately wasn't involved in the first few years of it, but from what the founders have told me and the feedback I've gotten on it, there was a real camaraderie in it. We want to put that feeling back into it again."

The festival was organized in March 1998 by a Texas A&M senior and a technical volunteer from the immensely popular South by Southwest Festival, scheduled for every spring in Austin.

Originally based off the promotional format of SxSW, it was first titled "North By Northgate" and sought out smaller, more localized vendors and sponsors like its more established counterpart.

The festival quickly earned a strong reputation and devoted fan base, and made the decision to develop an identity, seen through the show's change in name to "Northgate Music Festival" in 2001.

The festival lost money in 2003 - an unexpected turn that was attributed to chaotic timing, with the start of the Iraq War just one week before.

The festival has been moved from its usual slot - the week after Spring Break - to Aug 22 and 23, the weekend before fall classes begin. Proponents of the change hope that students will have fewer distractions in August than in March.

Willie Bennett of Bennett & Associates, was reinstated as the festival's talent buyer. Bennett was a co-founder of the festival in 1998 and acted as the booking agent for the first six years.

Bennett has been proactively researching and pursuing acts and said he is concentrating on "the best unsigned bands available."

"I'm very excited because we secured The Toadies, who will be in the middle of a major tour promoting a brand new single and album," he said of the headlining band. "We already have some bands on the cutting edge like The Band of Heathens, Corb Lund & the Hurtin' Albertans, and much more."

Other bands booked so far include Alpha Rev, As Cities Burn, Atarimatt, Cruiserweight, Deas Vail, Driver F, Feeding 5000, Hollywood Black, Loaded Moses, Sounds Under Radio, The Ars Supernova, The Band of Heathens, The Canvas Waiting, The Hangouts and The Wonderland Avenue.

"A major purpose of the festival is to highlight a large live music scene outside of Dallas or Austin," Guidry said. "Northgate is an incredible arena for live music. This show is meant to showcase unknown talent and bring people into all of the music venues that we have to offer."

Guidry also recognizes the major role that students have and will continue to play in the formation and success of the festival.

"We can always use more student volunteers," she said. "We literally can't run the event without the students, it's completely student driven. They are the heart of the event - they are the ones who are in touch with the up and coming music and how to reach out to people."

With the booking process and planning well under way, organizers remain dedicated to their goal of bringing the show back to its spirited beginnings. According to Brian Lippman of Lippman Music and a festival coordinator from day one, that involves just one thing.

"Over time, the show lost its direction so now, we're bringing it back to its roots," he said. "Just really good music."

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