by: Lacy Jo Davis
STEPHENVILLE, TX – The 2015 Larry Joe Taylor Texas Music Festival is kicking off this week, and I am already feeling it.
Having spent most of the last decade in Lubbock, LJT is certainly an event that I have heard my fair share about. We all get excited when our friends and fellow musicians get added to the line-up. We all laugh at the incriminating photographs and accompanying stories that make their way back to the Blue Light during the week following the unabashed bashing in Stephenville. We all sigh that collective sigh of relief when everyone makes it back home safe and relatively unscathed.
However, I have never felt the effects of the festival as forcefully as I have in these past months in Stephenville. I work at Tarleton State University, the ground zero of LJT. Since the start of this semester in January, the only thing my students can talk about is “LJT.” “Do we have class during LJT?” they ask me. But of course we do. English class is far more important than some music festival…right?
And this leads me to the punchline of this entire LJT situation. I would estimate that something like 85-90 percent of my students will be attending the Larry Joe Taylor Texas Music Festival this year. Of that 90 percent, I figure that maybe half have actually heard of any of the artists who will be performing.
Here in Texas we’re supposed to be all about the music. It’s not about the glitz, the glamour, the money. It’s about the art and the talent. It’s about the sound, the grit, the honesty. Or at least we like to think so. It turns out, however, that this coming week is about the party and the tossing aside of inhibitions and good sense in the name of “supporting” Texas music. Not all of the attendees even know who the artists are, and even fewer have bought a ticket to see them play at another venue. Quite a few of those gearing up for LJT are, by their own admission, attending solely for the good times and “hook-ups” that are so readily available. “It’s the party of the year,” I overheard someone say. “It doesn’t matter about the music; you just have to be there.”
And be there they will! And this, my friends, is the silver lining of the entire situation. The Larry Joe Taylor Texas Music Festival provides the perfect opportunity for those who have yet to be introduced to the Texas music scene to experience it in full force. All of these TSU freshmen who haven’t yet heard of the Turnpike Troubadours, William Clark Green, and Ray Wylie Hubbard–the ones who are going solely for the party–are about to get an education they won’t soon forget. Of course the party will be fun, but maybe, just maybe, the music will end up being part of the enduring memories of this wild week.