Rains Pushed The 2019 Homegrown Music & Art Festival Back A Day, But The Fest Was Rewarded With Strong Performances — And Maybe Its Best Weather Yet.
Photos by Karlo X. Ramos, Hal Samples and Pete Freedman, as credited.
Ten years into throwing its annual springtime celebration of Texas music, the organizers of Dallas’ Homegrown Music & Art Festival have indeed learned a thing or two — including, but not limited to, how important it is to have a backup plan at the ready should inclement weather loom.
That much came into play this past Thursday afternoon. With rains slated to drench North Texas on the Saturday the festival was originally slated to take place, organizers made the decision to push the bulk of its stated rain-or-shine offering to the following day — Sunday, April 14. (Not all of the performers could accommodate the date change — on Saturday night, Ben Kweller and Israel Nash would perform special sets for ticket holders at the Kessler Theatre, and Marc Rebillet would play a free show at Twilite Lounge — but, hey, 11 out of 14 sure ain’t bad.)
This wasn’t the first time the fest has been forced to move due to weather. In 2015,rain moved the festival indoors from its standard Main Street Garden Park home to the then-just-opened Bomb Factory. And just as that year’s play proved a shrew moved, this year’s call was almost assuredly the right one, too.
Check out the following photo of Main Street Garden Park that festival co-founder Joshua Florence snapped on Saturday, showing the scene his event avoided by pushing back a day.
Per Florence, rains welled up to six inches deep in a few spots on the waterlogged grounds on that originally scheduled afternoon. Not exactly ideal festing circumstances.
Sunday’s setting, meanwhile, was Saturday’s complete opposite: Under clear skies, the park wasn’t just dry; it was cool with temperatures hovering around the mid-60s — perhaps the single-most agreeable weather the festival had seen in its decade-long run, helped at least in part due to the fact that Homegrown has historically taken place during the substantially warmer month of May.
April showers be damned, this year’s setting proved rather idyllic, frankly. Just took the fest an extra day (and, sure, all the communication and logistical relay headaches that go with such a postponement) to get it there.
Following a few early-day delays (the event’s audio equipment couldn’t be delivered until Sunday morning because of Saturday’s weather) that pushed Oscar DeLaughter’s fest-opening set a tad and put a bit of a time-crunch on earlier-fest performers Pearl Earl, Jackie Venson, The 40 Acre Mule, The Suffers and Robert Ellis, Homegrown had settled into its usual self by the time Jonathan Tyler & The Northern Lights hit the stage during the 4 o’clock hour — right around the time of day when the strong-as-ever crowds started ballooning in anticipation of the fest’s headliners.
From then on, things went pretty much as anticipated — a sense no doubt helped by organizers choosing to take on a “greatest hits” booking philosophy in their fest’s tenth year. That’s not to say there weren’t any surprises; there were.
Austin’s Black Pumas made on hell of a debut during their five o’clock set, their fiery brand of pysch-soul finding more than a few fans among an agreeable set of on-lookers being introduced to their sound.
Tripping Daisy, meanwhile, brought out a couple guests to up the ante on the show it had given its most die-hard fans earlier in the week at Dada. The band flew in the brother of the model from its I Am An Electric Firecracker album cover to wordlessly introduce the band like some sort of colorblind Blue Man Group performer, and frontman Tim DeLaughter brought his lineup-mate son Oscar out at one point to join him on vocals during the band’s assured performance. (The band also teased a possible forthcoming reissue of 1998 album Jesus Hits Like An Atom Bomb, much to the crowd’s delight.)
As the sun set on Downtown Dallas, the Denton folk favorites in Seryn — reunited and ballooned to a 10-piece for this affair — appeared thrilled to be back in action, performing a well-received impassioned set that drew a smaller, but just as dedicated crowd as the Tripping Daisy set that preceded it.
Even stalwarts the Toadies added a few twists to their tried-and-true rock-out, unleashing a new song on their fans and bringing Tim DeLaughter out to hammer away on the drums during “I Burn.”
Would it have been better if all this had happened on Saturday instead of Sunday? Sure, if the weather had cooperated and allowed it.
Did it matter at the end of the day? Well… OK, probably to a few people whose schedules couldn’t accommodate the change, yeah.
But, in its tenth year, we’ll choose to credit Homegrown for doing the best with what it could, for staying the course and for throwing the party it was able to rather than lamenting the event it wasn’t.
That’s kind of what this event has always been about anyway, isn’t it? For ten years, Homegrown has existed as a boutique rallying cry for the culture sprouting all around us. And, for better or worse, Homegrown’s 10th offering might the most apt analogy for that culture that it’s yet shared.
Have reasonable expectations for it, and it might just blow you away.
For us, that’s what Homegrown did on Sunday. Was it pitch-perfect? No way; the reschedule to Sunday prevented that possibility. But, damn, it was a hell of a fun time seeing some of the region’s – and, at large, state’s — best doing their best, under the circumstances.
Homegrown X was a beautiful display of resilience.
If only that much could be said of everything in this life.