H-Town to Boomtown: Beaumont Has a Music Festival, Too

Photo by Laresha Green/Courtesy of Funeral Horse
Beaumont-bound Funeral Horse
The 2014 music festival season is kicking into gear, with Free Press Summer Fest announcing its lineup last week. The rundown features at least a half-dozen acts coming right from Coachella, which announced last month, and probably at least a few who will be performing at Bonnaroo, which announces this week.

It's nice to see the local effort headed to its rightful place among major U.S. music fests, but it may have you a bit nostalgic for the old days, when everything was more closely focused on homegrown talent. If so, this weekend's Boomtown Film & Music Festival may be just what you need.

You'll have to travel a bit to get there -- over to Beaumont -- but you'll be sharing I-10 East with some Houston acts scheduled to play, if you do. Here Come the Girls, Funeral Horse, Vanilla Sugar, Texas Car Crash and (full disclosure) my daughter Marissa create the Houston contingent at this year's gathering.

Maybe one day Boomtown will become the Gulf Coast's Sundance -- or even its next Summer Fest -- but for now its focus is on independently produced film and music. Some of the films at this year's event are from as far away as Iran and New Zealand, but all the music has roots in Texas and Louisiana.

"We like to celebrate our local talent, and part of that is bringing in successful musicians from other Texas cities to show how other regions are developing musically," says Christina Trujillo, a Boomtown Festival spokeswoman. "Unlike larger cities where crowds can often feel standoffish, our town is passionate about seeing new artists from other cities. If we like a touring band, we're not afraid to dance and get crazy."

"We have not performed in Beaumont before -- at least not as Funeral Horse -- so we're excited and intrigued by the opportunity to be a part of the Boomtown event," says the Horse's Paul Bearer. "We're hoping that people will check us out and either be highly offended or absolutely in love with our sound. The worst possible outcome would be to be completely ignored and lost in the shuffle."

Doubtful, as the trio's stoner metal is on the rise here in town and has listeners recalling Black Sabbath and The Melvins. But more than two dozen music acts will be playing Boomtown, so there's plenty to seek out. as organizers seemed to look for diversity from its Bayou City selections.

The entire event kicks off Thursday night with Houston all-female DJ act, Here Come the Girls, spinning 1960s vinyl. Another all-female Houston band, Vanilla Sugar, is as far from Dusty Springfield and Barbara Lynn as you can get, and will be bringing their alternative electro-pop to the Golden Triangle for the first time.

"We always like to perform in new areas because we get to hopefully expand our listener base. When we play new cities, we usually get a pretty good response," said the band's Jessica Perry. "Festivals like this are extremely important for local bands. It provides a great opportunity to network and create new business relationships. It also gives bands like us a chance to perform in front of much larger crowds than we may be used to."

"Boomtown is especially interesting for us because we're hoping to meet up with filmmakers attending the festival," says Funeral Horse's Bearer. "We're hoping to start shooting some videos for our music once the new album is released, and we'd prefer to work with someone in the area."

Melodic punks Texas Car Crash have played the area before, and assure their fellow Houston acts that Beaumont will be cool.

"We've played the Art Studio in Beaumont twice and have also gigged frequently around Beaumont," says Geeves, who plays guitar and sings for Texas Car Crash. "The audiences have always been kind and receptive in Beaumont. We love every opportunity to play down there."

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