Music Friendly City

The Texas Music Office visited Bryan to begin the process of making Bryan a Music Friendly City.

With hopes of getting the bands back together, the city of Bryan is seeking out a state seal of approval to bring musicians of all kinds to the community.

Following an announcement made by the Texas governor’s office, Bryan is the most recent candidate for the “music friendly city” designation through the Texas Music Office, or TMO. The city took the first step in the certification process by hosting a community workshop on Monday, Oct. 18, in conjunction with AdventGX at The Grand Stafford Theater.

“As we unleash the full might of the Texas economy, I look forward to continuing to work alongside community and business leaders in Bryan to ensure they have the knowledge and tools they need to succeed,” Gov. Greg Abbott said in an Oct. 14 press release. “Music is a big part of the Texas brand and our local economies, and I thank the Texas Music Office for helping communities large and small to amplify creative partnerships and spur new business growth.”

Currently, 30 cities across the state hold the “music friendly” title. TMO director Brendon Anthony, Class of 1999, led the workshop and said Bryan — and the Stafford stage itself — have been instrumental in his musical career.

“I started playing violin at a very young age and decided that the classical violin route wasn’t going to be for me,” Anthony said. “I wasn’t going to be in a symphony because certainly no one would want to hear that. I got fascinated with country and rock. When I was able to go out on my own in high school a little bit, a guy named Jack Ingram came to play the Stafford … he pulled me up on the corner of the stage and asked me to start playing, and we played a few songs that sent me down this dark road I’ve been on for over 25 years now.”

Anthony said this workshop is not just another meeting in a series of commitments, but rather a homecoming to the Bryan-College Station community.

“When I was in high school, [my band] played [at the] Texas Hall of Fame, Hurricane Harry’s, The Tap, The Stafford and any other place that wouldn’t throw us out,” Anthony said. “As we got bigger, we played Wolf Penn [Amphitheater] and different arenas, but coming up, I see these places in my head. When I talk about what it means to come up playing in Texas, these are the stages I see in my head when I’m envisioning going to work for them.”

For local organizations like AdventGX and Destination Bryan, this opportunity to bring attention and business to the area has been in the works for almost two years. Alyson Mullins, AdventGX’s community development liaison and event manager, said the initiative has been well-received and supported.

“This was an issue we wanted to work on pre-COVID[-19], and as we know, COVID[-19] happened, and things got delayed,” Mullins said. “We met back with [Anthony] back in April to restart the process and speak to him about what we need to do to get into this and bring everybody together. That’s what started the conversation, and we had so many people who wanted to be on the advisory board, and great contacts.”

To complete the process, the city of Bryan is anticipated to host the workshop, create an official structure within the city government for music, register local musicians to the Texas state musician database, collaborate with music education programs, work with local music nonprofits and form an advisory board composed of local music industry stakeholders. With the workshop complete and an advisory board formed, Bryan is already on its way to creating support structures for musicians.

Through the TMO, Anthony and his co-workers hope music promotion will become an important part of state industry, and said college students will be critical in leading the economic and cultural growth.

“I’ve done a tremendous amount of work with my office, talking to people who run programs at colleges and universities across the state, and truly, if we’re going to build a workforce around this industry, [higher education is] where it’s gonna start,” Anthony said. “If those people have the idea that they can come out of college and work in an industry that’s being built up in a more robust way, and maybe even do it in the community where he or she is graduating, that would be a fantastic asset.”

When asked for his advice for college students looking into the music industry, Anthony said it’s critical his fellow Aggies continue to ask questions about their desired field and be ready to learn as they go.

“If I could go back and talk to myself in 1996 when I started playing in bands, I would tell myself to get more educated about what the entire industry is, what the different parts are and what they do and why they’re all important,” Anthony said. “Simply [ask] questions and [try] to educate yourself in the same way you would if you were trying to become a doctor or a lawyer or engineer. Get educated about the career you’re wanting to go into.”

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