Skim over the 150-plus bands playing 35 Denton music festival and it’s likely there are many names you won’t recognize. That’s kind of the point – the fest, which takes over eight local venues and two outdoor stages March 11-13, is known for giving lesser known artist a turn in the spotlight. But with so many bands, it's tough to know where to begin.
Take it from us: These are five acts you don't want to miss.
A New York native, Biz Markie's hip-hop career began in beat boxing. Born Marcel Hall, he was spitting beats by age 14 and just a few years later backing the notable Juice Crew out of Queens. But you'll likely recognize him as the MC behind one of the genres most legendary tracks, "Just A Friend." The song, originally released in 1989, cracked the top 10 on Billboard's Hot 100 in 1990, but its popularity spans generations and remains one of the most iconic hip-hop song of the 20th century. Biz Markie has since released four albums, the most recent in 2003, and currently plays a role on the kids TV show Yo Gabba Gabba.
Biz Markie performs at Main Stage 1 (Williams Square) on Sunday, March 13 at 8:30 p.m.
Charles Bradley and his Extraordinaires
Soul singer Charles Bradley proves you're never too old to start a music career. The life-long nomad grew up under tough circumstances, but had a moment of realization at age 14 when he saw James Brown perform. After tedious practice, he spent years moonlighting as a James Brown impersonator until he caught the attention of a record label. Bradley released his debut album, No Time for Dreaming, in 2011 at age 62 and has earned a reputation as the "Screaming Eagle of Soul." Crowds love him, too -- his funky sound and rhythm make all who see him live shake their tail feathers.
Charles Bradley and his Extraordinaires perform at Main Stage 1 (Williams Square) on Saturday, March 12 at 8:30 p.m.
If you haven't heard of Eliot Sumner, you may recognize her father, Sting of The Police. That, of course, gives her name notoriety, but don't mistake her bloodlines for the reputation she's earned on her own -- GQ magazine recently called Sumner a “musical visionary." The indie rock singer and multi-instrumentalist previously released music under the moniker I Blame Coco, but more recently put out a debut album as Eliot Sumner, called Information, which brings poppy vibes and electronic beats to the forefront.
Eliot Sumner performs at Main Stage 1 (Williams Square) on Sunday, March 13 at 6:30 p.m.
The name draws you in, the grungy-pop tunes keep you there. Tacocat is a Seattle-based quartet that's brashly feminist and unapologetic about it. Its members -- Emily Nokes (vocals, tambourine), Eric Randall (guitar), Lelah Maupin (drums), and Bree McKenna (bass) -- have been playing in bands together since their teens, and their latest incarnation as Tacocat has bred a catchy blend of fuzzy guitar, charming vocals and breezy bass lines that are begging to be jammed surf-side. Just don't call it cute.
Tacocat performs at the Patterson-Appleton Arts Center (Greater Denton Arts Council) at Friday, March 11 at 11 p.m.
Elizabeth Harper's infectious breed of pop music stems from her background as a singer/songwriter. Layer her unique vocal style over some energetic electronic riffs, and good luck getting any of her tunes out of your head. Drama is evident in Harper's music, from the seductive lyrics to her synth-laden '80s influences, which is fitting considering she originally pursued a career in acting. Need another selling point? Electronic music trailblazer Giorgio Moroder produced Class Actress' latest release, Movies.
Class Actress performs at Main Stage 1 (Williams Square) on Saturday, March 12 at 6:30 p.m.
Plan your life:
Tickets to 35 Denton are currently on sale, and cost $65 for general admission and $100 for FastTrack passes, which allows purchasers to jump ahead in venue lines. Single day tickets are also available for $25-$35 each. For more information, visit 35denton.com.