Introducing Treaty Oak Collective, Houston's Newest Promoters
Brandon Lemons is no stranger to the Houston music scene.
If you've been around long enough, you've most likely either seen a show he's organized, or, if you're a real club junkie, sat and had a beer (or three) with the guy once or twice at a venue around town.
The Silsbee, Tex. native broke into the industry at The Mink, where he cut his teeth booking shows, (and playing a few himself), with the hope to earn a strong reputation among local music scene.
Over the years, he's done just that. If you ask around a bit, you'll more than likely hear that Lemons has a knack for placing the right band at the right place, maximizing profit all around. In a city where bands play to empty rooms every night, the guy puts butts in seats... or, barstools, that is, on a nightly basis.
Currently, he's gearing up for a project dubbed Treaty Oak Collective, a venture he hopes will help bring the Houston music scene out of the dark ages of promotion and marketing and into the 21st century.
"It's actually more or less just me right now," Lemons tells Rocks Off. "The whole 'collective' aspect is going to be drawing from other people's skills and resources, almost like a bartering system to help bring up the music scene."
"For example, there are great graphic artists that don't get work contracted enough, and that could be pushing shows better," he says. "I'm not a graphic artist, but I've got good shows. So it's trying to band together artists from across the spectrum to push the art-music medium even further."
What does this mean for music promotion? Well, in theory, Lemons' goal is to continue booking, albeit at specific clubs, in a way that attracts audiences beyond what traditional handbills have accomplished in the past. Treaty Oak is presenting Saturday's American Sharks 7" release party at the new Walter's.
The typical musicgoer wants a tangible memory from a great show, Lemons says. With that in mind, Treaty Oak Collective sees its responsibility as pulling together graphic artists, bands, promoters and clubowners to help that serve that need. In some cases, that includes limited artwork to press a band's gig; in others, specialized online promos for gigs around the city.
If the project seems difficult to grasp, it seems almost by design. That's because for Lemons, Treaty Oak Collective isn't one single thing. In one sense, it's a booking and promotional agency, but Lemons' plans for the company also includes a record label and vinyl-manufacturing outfit to supplement his promotional work.
"Of course being able to book more and more great shows is one facet, but we've got several records coming out this year as well," he says.
"And something I'm really excited about is I'm going to be actually cutting and pressing records myself, which to the best of my knowledge no one in Houston is doing right now," Lemons adds. "The closest place that is doing that is in Dallas, and for all the people sending their stuff out to these plants, I hope to be a resource for them to do it cost-effectively."
Despite declining record sales, industry trends suggest that vinyl has, after years of negligible impact, again found a secure niche among music listeners. Given the recent upturn in interest, Lemons plans to work with several venues around the city to produce and release live-music series on vinyl.
For Lemons, the demand from local-music aficionados is there; the only thing lacking is the supply and a creative mind to set the wheels in motion.
"There's going to be a lot of great opportunities coming up, opportunities that otherwise have not been very accessible to people in this city. Hopefully I can be the provider for them," Lemons says.
"There's a lot of great music coming out of Houston, and if you blink, you're going to miss it," he adds. "I want to help keep it in the forefront."
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