The Daytime Panels Are The Best-Kept Secret at 35 Denton.
The bands may have started playing at around 9:30 on Thursday night, but, technically, the 2012 edition of 35 Denton got its start more than five hours earlier in the day.
Five hours earlier at Banter, 35 Denton would officially kick off with festival panel coordinator Jaime-Paul Falcon standing next to Denton city councilman Kevin Roden and saying the words, “I've drunk-tweeted Midnight Mass the last two years in a row. Don't follow me on Twitter between midnight and 3 a.m.” Shortly following that, the first high five of the festival would take place between Swash Labs founder Josh Berthume and Granada Theater Promo Manager Gavin Mulloy, and the Social Media Panel would launch us into 35 Denton 2012.
An eclectic mix of people — Berthume (the most experienced and educated on the panel in the subject, no doubt), Roden, Mulloy, Mulloy's fellow Granada social media guru Chris McDonald, Armadillo Ale Works co-founder Bobby Mullins, 35 Denton social media czar Andy Odom, and I — then proceeded to bounce questions off each other and the crowd about social media.
It was a good time, to be sure. And a nice metaphor for 35 Denton as a whole, perhaps. Sure, SXSW is no stranger to panel discussions, either, but the Austin conference's panels are held in conference halls accessible only to badge holders and feel about as impossible to get into as the Fader Fort at 1 a.m. 35 Denton's day panels, on the other hand, have been working a local community aesthetic and a discussion level that feels beneficiary and accessible to the audience. At one point, my panel fielded a question from the barista behind the counter. She wanted to know which social media tools would be best to market the coffee shop. Talk about bringing a show right to its audience.
Meanwhile, over in the front windows upstairs at The Paschall, members of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (the people that bring us the Grammys) and entertainment lawyers discussed the legal aspects of the music industry over cocktails.
Day panels like these are sort of the best-kept secrets in a conference that is quickly becoming hard to attend at night due to increasing crowds. Pretty soon, that might be the same for the panels. Might as well take advantage of them and learn something while you can.