Music. Art. Comedy.
The (now annual) East Texas All-Star Showcase is quickly evolving into something broader than just a gathering of locally-sourced musicians and becoming a true showcase of the talent that can be found in, around and from East Texas. Organizer Trent Spradlin said he wants this year’s showcase to be an example of just how far you can go when your roots are found here.
“This year I wanted to do a showcase of nationally touring artists who are either from East Texas or have roots in East Texas and have since gone off and made a successful career of just doing their music. So there are only two this year that are still active in East Texas, the rest are from all over the country,” he said. “I want to do this kind of as an encouraging deal to artists who are out here to say that, even though you’re playing in Tyler, and you may not think it’s that glamorous, but there are these guys out here that are doing the exact same thing, making a living out of it and loving what they do.”
This year’s lineup includes returning headliner Uncle Lucius (who are Austin-based, but play in Tyler so often they might as well be considered local), Greyhounds (former band of Stanley’s Famous Pit Bar-B-Que owner Nick Pencis), Lucas Young and The Wilderness, Stefan and the C-Otters (with a guest performance by local hip hop artist D Jack), Man No Sober, The Bigsbys and Channel 8.
Young in particular will hopefully provide a point of inspiration for up-and-coming musicians, Spradlin said, and not just because he’s come up from playing music in Tyler.
“Lucas Young grew up here in Tyler. Back in the day when we were probably 14 or 15 years old, the only music scene that was here was the straightedge, scream and holler, as my mother called it, punk rock shows. They would play at places like the VFW hall or a place called Attitudes, that’s since closed. He was always in that genre of music, then he moved out of Tyler and Texas all together and moved to Reno where he honed his craft and moved into a more Americana style,” Spradlin said. “And when I ran into him on Facebook I saw that he had changed genres; he’s now singing in key and he plays guitar, but he’s also handicapped. He only has a nub on his wrist, and he’s built his own prosthetics, one where he can hold a pick and one where he can hold a drumstick. He’s one of the most talented musicians that I have ever had the pleasure of growing up with and seeing become successful.”
But for as many bands and musicians that have come up from East Texas, Spradlin said, he hopes just as many artists rise from the ranks as well, in part due to events like this.
“I really wanted to boost the arts side, as far as the painters, sculptors, stuff like that, because I didn’t realize just how many people are out here that actually do all of these different things,” Spradlin said. “When I grew up out here, it was only the Tyler Museum of Art out by (Tyler Junior College) and I thought, ‘Well, this is where all the artists are.’ When in reality they are all over the place.”
Mason Buchanan, local painter and all-around guerilla artist, is overseeing the arts side of the showcase and said the artist’s alley – with its caricature artists, woodworkers, sculptors and even a blacksmith – will provide a keen example just what kind of artists community that exists East Texas.
“We have some face painters, a lot of photographers, a lot of traditional painters, … a lot of really different, really cool stuff,” Buchanan said. “Last year with (the artist’s alley), I went into it not knowing what to expect. … I think in the future we’ll probably see, as well as the talented artists we have right now, we’ll probably see some bigger acts coming through as well.”
Additionally, there will be a comedy show put on by Tyler’s improvisational comedy troupe, Card 53. “The Benchwarmers Showcase” will take place concurrently from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. that evening.
Spradlin said he hopes to continue to allow the event to evolve and even enlighten.
“From the first showcase it was all music, because that was my passion. But through doing this, it opened my eyes to the outlets of the arts that are here in East Texas,” he said. “Since the second showcase, there have been more artists and sculptors and woodworkers that have contacted me wanting to be a part of the showcase than have bands and musicians, which says a lot about them because there are tons of musicians out there.”
The East Texas All-Star Showcase will take over the brick street in front of Liberty Hall in downtown Tyler on Saturday, Sept. 7 from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. General admission is $20 per person with special discounts for local college students with valid ID. A VIP package is available for $35 per person and includes a drink voucher, a meal from Stanley’s Famous Pit Bar-B-Que, access to the VIP area with a meet-and-greet with Uncle Lucius and admission to the Card 53 comedy show.
For tickets, visitwww.outhousetickets.com .