Linda Jenkins

Catch up on our most recent First Chair Chat on the UNT Music Library Blog! In November’s chat, we were joined by a fantastic panel of musicians from the Denton area to discuss local music. The episode is coming soon to our First Chair Chats page.

First Chair Chats is a series hosted by the UNT Music Library. Panelists from the UNT community and local area come together to address a specific topic and answer audience questions. Previous Chats have included special guests John Murphy, Professor Emeritus and former Chair of the Jazz Studies Division at UNT and Emmy Award Winning composer Julie Giroux.

In this month’s topic about local music, we were happy to welcome Dr. Brian Wright from the Music History department in the College of Music, who served as the discussion host and moderator, along with the following panelists from UNT and the local Denton music scene:

  • Maristella Feustle, Music Special Collections Librarian and local musician
  • Nick (Frederick Nichelson), local musician and entrepreneur
  • Justin Lemons, Lead Preservation Tech at UNT Special Collections and local musician/audio engineer
  • Kelly Evans, Cataloging and Metadata Assistant and local musician
  • Christopher Walker, Administrative Coordinator at UNT Jazz Studies and local musician
  • Chad Withers, General Manager of Rubber Gloves
  • Dave Huff, Sound Preservationist at UNT Music Library and local musician/audio engineer
  • Ramon Muzquiz, local musician

Coronavirus and Local Music

The first question posed by Dr. Wright had to do with how COVID-19 has affected each of our panelists. As you might expect, local gigs and festivals completely shut down in mid-to-late March. Bassist Frederick (Nick) Nichelson’s band Fingerprints travels regularly and gigs throughout the year; he estimated over 100 performances were cancelled. This gave him time to focus on the back-end of the business, helping artists he represents through Nichelson Entertainment, and beginning a project called ‘Artist Fundamentals’ geared to teaching musicians about the business aspect of their careers.

And this is the trend across the board: each of our panelists talked about work that was cancelled after they’d been booked and projects stalling in the planning process. In the meantime, many of them have been pursuing passion projects or taking a break from playing. In a follow-up answer to a question from the audience, Ramon Muzquiz, local drummer, had this to say about his experience through the pandemic:

“As someone who has generally played as support for others for years I am finally pushing myself to write my own music which has also pushed me to record myself, something that I have generally not done, as well as recording for others. I have also benefited greatly from stepping away from my instrument, it’s true that our brains keep working on stuff even if we aren’t actively thinking about them.”

INDUSTRY FACT: Many live music jobs are slightly different in that the artist gets paid after the fact, it may or may not involve a written contract, and if the event is cancelled then the artist rarely receives compensation.

How Can you Support Local Music in Denton (and Beyond!)

Our panelists all agreed, the best way to support your local music scene is to listen/stream/download their music! Here are some other ways to support your local music community (links below):

  • Buy their merch! Many local musicians have tip lines, CashApp, or merchandise available through their band pages and websites.
  • Support local arts initiatives. Find out what’s happening in the community and get involved!
  • Donate to local/state/federal arts fundraisers. 



Looking for some more local music? Check out the UNT Music Library’s LIMIT project, an initiative to collect and preserve the vibrant local music culture of North Texas.

The chat on local music will be available soon on the First Chair Chats news page, along with a full list of previous First Chair Chats with links to the recorded webinars. The series will return in the spring with a chat on video game music — we’re looking forward to it!

Edited by Kristin Wolski

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