A Celebration of Local Talent

Last October, on a crisp, fall day, the Frisco Music Scene hosted their first annual Whistlestop Jamboree event at the Frisco Rail Yard and it was a roaring success. The group is excited to announce they are expecting an even bigger crowd for their upcoming 2017 festival. 

The Whistlestop Jamboree is a unique, family-friendly music festival located at the Frisco Rail Yard, complete with food trucks, a bar, games and activities, and the main event is great live music. Admission is free and this year’s event will take place Saturday, October 21, with the first act set to perform at 11 a.m. Performances will take place all day through 11 p.m.

“We have been able to acquire a headliner that is actually an international act, Uncle Lucius, so that has really caught the public’s attention and gotten us some great sponsors,” Jeff Brooks, a founder of the Frisco Music Scene and one of the lead organizers of the Whistlestop Jamboree, says. While the rock band Uncle Lucius has now garnered international attention, the group found their humble beginnings as a local band from Austin, Texas. 

The key purpose of the event is not only to put on a good show for the people of Frisco and the surrounding areas, but also to promote local artists with original music and give them a chance to play a larger stage. “In the past, Frisco has not really been a thriving music scene for local musicians, just because they do not have that many opportunities to play,” Mr. Brooks says. “That is something we wanted to change, so our mission is really to promote local, original artists, not just cover bands or tribute bands.”

A unique trait of the festival, however, are the “scramble” bands that will perform between the featured acts. Over the summer, local musicians had the opportunity to submit their names and musical talents to the Frisco Music Scene. These submissions were then placed into a hat and randomly sorted into makeshift bands made up of four or five local artists. “These bands are just sort of ‘Frankensteined’ together from a bunch of local acts, so we never really know what we will get,” Mr. Brooks explains. “This year, I know we have one woman who is an opera singer, but has been put into a band with a hard rock bass player, so we really get some interesting combinations, which make for a really great show.”

After the bands were assigned in late July, the artists received the contact information for their band mates and had from then through October 21 to put together a 30-minute set of original music, as well as a few cross-genre cover songs. Six scramble bands will be performing at this year’s festival. “As far as I know, this is the only event of its kind in our part of the country where the scramble bands are literally put into a lottery, which is really exciting for us,” Mr. Brooks adds. “Last year, I actually participated in a scramble band myself, just to see what it was like on the other side of things.”

Mr. Brooks fronts a band called “The Bodarks,” also one of the featured bands last year, as a singer, banjo player and guitar player. Several of the members, including himself, decided to throw their names in for the Jamboree scramble as well last year.

Two stages are set up on opposite sides of the Frisco Rail Yard, one for the feature and headlining bands, and the other for the scramble bands. This way, the crowd can watch the scramble band performances on one end while bands are getting set up on the other stage. 

In addition to the headliner, Uncle Lucius, a few of the other musicals acts performing include Dalton Domino, Sister Grove, BJ Stricker & The Kings, The Whiskey Prophets and Justin Pickard and the Thunderbird Winos. Each feature band will put on a set lasting about an hour to an hour and a half.

“The Frisco Rail Yard is really an incredible space and we are so excited to be working with them for a second year,” Mr. Brooks comments. “It is a great place to come out and hear some new music. It also gives parents an opportunity to relax and maybe have a drink somewhere their kids can safely run around.”

Last year’s festival saw a crowd between 700 and 800, but, this year, they are expecting even more people. While the main event is Saturday, they will also be kicking off the weekend on Friday night, October 20, at Stan’s Main Street, a restaurant and live music venue. “We wanted to kind of create a new tradition where we start the weekend off with a reunion pre-party of the bands and artists who performed last year,” Mr. Brooks says. “Stan’s Main Street has been generous enough to let us come out and have some groups perform small, stripped-down acoustic sets to get everyone excited about Saturday.” 

Again, the event is free to all, with no registration required. All ages are welcome and encouraged to come out. In fact, one of the goals of the Frisco Music Scene is to reach younger generations of budding musicians through this event. “We love seeing kids come out who maybe have dreams of one day, you know, making it big as a rock star and seeing that people from their own community share the same dream,” Mr. Brooks says. “I know it is going to be another great show this year, and I am just so excited to see what these ad-hoc bands put on for us. Sometimes, it is the combinations you think would not match at all that end up with the coolest sound.” 

The Frisco Rail Yard is located at 9040 First Street and has multiple lots available for free parking. This is a day for the community that you definitely do not want to miss. Grab your friends and family and come out to celebrate some Frisco talent this fall! For more event information, go to www.thefriscomusicscene.com.

Rachel Beaird is a recent University of Arkansas graduate, travel enthusiast and a public relations aficionado.