Tomorrow marks the start of the 10th installation of Lumberjack Festival, one of Denton's most beloved events. What started as a fundraiser for a DIY literary magazine, has become a two day event of some of the best musicians this town has to offer. We spoke with festival organizer, Aaron Anderson, to give us some history, insight, and a little glimpse into how it came about. Heck, he even told us how there was once almost a chainsaw artist carving a giant bear in front of Dan's. Oh, what could have been...
WDDI: Hey Aaron! First off, why “Lumberjack”?
Aaron Anderson: When I was planning the original Lumberjack Fest, I couldn't think of anything cooler than combining rock-n-roll and chainsaws. I was also a big fan of watching those Lumberjack competitions on television. The original plan was to have a chainsaw sculptor out in front of Dan's carving a giant Grizzly Bear that we would auction off at the end of the night. Sadly, that dream died when I couldn't find a chainsaw artist that was anywhere near my price range. It's probably a good thing, though. Chainsaws and beer could have been a recipe for disaster - or at the very least some serious litigation.
What is Lumberjack Fest?
Back around 2004, a group of friends from grad school and I started a literary magazine called The Porch. Throwing Lumberjack Fest every year was how we raised money for paper, printer cartridges, and any other supplies we needed. Turns out I was better at organizing a local festival once a year than I was at running a magazine. Some members of that early Porch gang, however, went on to start a really ambitious, well-respected quarterly journal called Farrago's Wainscot.
Why did you decide to do two days of Lumberjack festing this year?
This is our tenth year, so I wanted to do something a little special. I was also tired of trying to cram seven or eight bands on one bill. I thought it might be cool to have a typical Saturday night show and then follow it up with a matinee on Sunday. It gives everyone a chance to sip a Bloody Mary and nurse their hangovers while they try to remember what happened the night before.
Brushed flannel or are y’all on that hard stuff?
Real lumberjacks make their flannel out of tree bark. At least that's what Kody Jackson told me.
What’s the most insane thing that has happened in the history of Lumberjack Fest?
Fire dancing and hot coal walking at the inaugural Lumberjack. I still have no idea how we convinced Dan to go along with that plan. Halfway through the show, the entire audience lleft the bar and started walking across this pit of coals we'd built in the parking lot. It was one of the craziest things I've ever seen. There was an endless line of folks just waiting to take their shoes off and do a little fire walking. I think I can safely say we're the only show in town to have ever offered that type of experience. Then again, this is Denton, so you never know.
Are there any plans for a #Lumberjacked hashtag?
I think that's a really cool idea, but I only have about seven twitter followers. Maybe we can get it trending if all the bands get on board. Do you win prizes for trending big? #oldguy #illtwitterate
So you guys run a BBQ catering company called Meat Guns. What’s the story behind that name?
The original Meat Gun was actually my wife's hair dryer. Some buddies and I used it to stoke the coals on the smoker one afternoon, and just like that, the name was born. The BBQ turned out good that day, but my wife was not exactly thrilled about the thick mesquite funk that lingered in her blow dryer. Not thrilled at all.
How does Meat Guns relate to the Lumberjack Fest?
Back when Lumberjack was a fundraiser for the magazine, we used to feed the bands instead of paying them. I think we started with pizza, moved on to hot dogs and brats, then transitioned into BBQ as I started learning more about the craft. Now that the magazine is long since gone, we actually get to pay the bands, but they still want their Meat Guns.
What band are you most looking forward to playing at LJF this year?
I love Spooky Folk. The band kicks ass, and it's always great to have Kaleo back in town. I'm also excited to see The Wurly Birds. I'd never heard of them, but Justin Collins told me I should add them to the lineup. He's usually not wrong about bands. (see Phillip Roebuck.)
Who is the most “lumberjack-esque” person in Denton?
Chris Welch. He can rip a tree out of the ground with his bare hands, and Pinebox Serenade is the only band to play every Lumberjack Fest.
Has Spitfire Tumbleweeds become another Brutal Juice - in as much as they reunite ~once a year to play a festival?
Ha! Those dudes just hate to miss a good party, and any festival would be lucky to have them. Catch the Weeds while you can folks because Sunday is their last show ever. Scout's honor.