Mailing address: Denton Festival Foundation, Inc. P.O. Box 2104 Denton, TX 76202
Phone: 940-565-0931

Arts & Jazz Festival

Where fun is the thing and jazz is king!


Carl Finch of Brave Combo plays during the main stage final at the Denton Arts & Jazz Festival. Photo courtesy of the Denton Festival Foundation

Carl Finch of Brave Combo plays during the main stage final at the Denton Arts & Jazz Festival. Photo courtesy of the Denton Festival Foundation.


Great music, good food and beautiful art make the Denton Arts & Jazz Festival an event you can’t miss, especially since it’s FREE to the public!

Move to the beat at one of 7 stages with jazz, blues and cross-cultural music.  Get in the groove and buy a special piece of art from artists and crafters. There are even activities for children to participate in so the entire family can enjoy the festival.

Treat yourself to delicious offerings at one of the many food courts and don’t miss the games and activities for the young and young at heart.  Get inspired with festival rhythms around every corner. Come and visit the music capital of North Texas. Join in the pride and celebration of our music and arts tradition, all showcased for a weekend of enjoyment for the whole family.

Denton’s Quakertown Park, on 32 acres in the heart of downtown, provides the perfect setting for the event. The Denton Festival Foundation, Inc., in cooperation with the City of Denton and American Federation of Musicians, the Music Performance Trust Fund, produces the festival with support from individual and corporate sponsorships.

**No Coolers. No Pets. Only service dogs allowed.**

Jazz Stage

sponsored by Wells Fargo & Budweiser
2:30 pm: Latin Katz
4 pm: Eric Scortia & Vital Organ
5:30 pm: Mario Cruz
7 pm: Ed Soph Quintet

Courtyard Stage

sponsored by Budweiser
3:30 pm: Not So Hot Club
5 pm: Jose Aponte & Caribe Club
7 pm: Texas Blues Crew
9 pm: Rachelle Parks-Washington

Roving River Stage

sponsored by KNTU FM Radio 88.1
5:30 pm: Vinyl Stripes
7 pm: Rivers West

UNT Showcase Stage

sponsored by the University of North Texas
5 pm: Addison Jordan Group
6 pm: Paul Lees Group
7 pm: LS Electric Guitar Ensemble
8 pm: Zebras Contemporary Jazz Ensemble
9 pm: Latin Jazz Lab

Festival Stage

sponsored by the Denton Record-Chronicle
4 pm: Company Mayes
4:15 pm: Polly Maynard
5:15 pm: Ryan High School Partner Dance
6 pm: Crownover Middle School Jazz Band
6:30 pm: Harpool Middle School Jazz Band
7 pm: McMath Middle School Tiger Jazz Band
7:30 pm: Calhoun Middle School Jazz Band
8 pm: Bonduris Musicl School
9 pm: Little Elmo & the Mambo Kings
10 pm: Copper Root

Celebration Stage

3 pm: The Jett Quartet
4 pm: The Remnants
5 pm: Nobles of Note
6 pm: Double Down Band
7 pm: Lake Dallas Falcon Jazz Ensemble
8 pm: N8 and the Rules
9 pm: Aubrey High School Jazz Band
10 pm: The Silvertones

Center Stage

4 pm: Owasso High School Show Choir
5 pm: Ryan High School Jazz Band
5:45 pm: Cross Oaks Elementary Spotlights Choir
6 pm: Stephens Elementary Spotlights Choir
6:30 pm: Lee Elementary Singers Choir
6:45 pm: Ryan Elementary Wrangler Choir
7 pm: Crownover Middle School Fiddle Club
7:45 pm: China Spring High School Jazz Band II Ensemble
8:30 pm: China Spring High School Jazz Band I Ensemble

Jazz Stage

sponsored by Wells Fargo & Budweiser
10 am: Shelley Carrol
11:30 am: John Adams
1 pm: Damon Clark
2:30 pm: UNT Jazz Faculty
4 pm: The Phelps Family
5:30 pm: Mark Harper
7 pm: Phyrework

Courtyard Stage

sponsored by Budweiser
10:30 am: Le Pompe
12 pm: Ricki Derek & the Vegas Six
1:30 pm: Mr. Inez
3 pm: Taste of Herb
4:30 pm: Brad T. and the Undulating Band
6 pm: Fingerprints
7:30 pm: Bonnie & Nick Norris
9 pm: Bubba Hernandez

Roving River Stage

sponsored by KNTU FM Radio 88.1
10 am: Texas Twisters
11 am: Impending Bloom
12 pm: Razzmajazz
1 pm: McLeod Nine
2 pm: Rhythm Tribe
3 pm: Yancey Stevens
4 pm: Eric Bailey
5 pm: Joe Tucker
6:30 pm: Johnny Red & the Roosters
8 pm: The Rhythmators

UNT Showcase Stage

sponsored by the University of North Texas
10 am: Nick Oswik Group
11 am: Henry Dickoff Group
12 pm: U-Tubes Jazz Trombone Ensembles
1 pm: Nine O’Clock Lab Band
2 pm: Eight O’Clock Lab Band
3 pm: Seven O’Clock Lab Band
4 pm: Six O’Clock Lab Band
5 pm: Five O’Clock Lab Band
6 pm: Four O’Clock Lab Band
7 pm: Three O’Clock Lab Band
8 pm: Two O’Clock Lab Band
9 pm: One O’Clock Lab Band

Festival Stage

sponsored by the Denton Record-Chronicle
9 am: Newton Elementary Groove Squad
9:30 am: Denton High School Fillies
10 am: Ms. Rhonda’s All Stars
11 am: Newton Elementary Ballet Folklorico
11:45 am: Green Space Dance
12:45 pm: 35 Jive!
1 pm: 410 Line Dancers
1:30 pm: Silhouette Dance Company
2:15 pm: Turning Pointe Dance Studio
2:45 pm: Denton Dance Conservatory & City Ballet
3:45 pm: Denton High School Lab Band 3
4:15 pm: Denton High School Lab Band 2
4:45 pm: Denton High School Lab Band 1
5:45 pm: Leil Nahar Mid-Eastern Dance Troupe
6:15 pm: House of Funk Theatre Company
7:15 pm: U-Jam Fitness
8 pm: Zaara Belly Dance Fusion
9 pm: Slightly Highly Lovely
10 pm: Ariel & the Culture

Celebration Stage

9:15 am: Texas Woman’s University Jazz Emsemble
10 am: Denton Community Band Jazz Ensemble
11 am: Gainesville Swing Band Jazz Ensemble
12 pm: Upswing Jazz Band
1 pm: Tyler Junior College Jazz Ensemble II
2 pm: Tyler Junior College Jazz Ensemble I
3 pm: University of Texas @ Tyler Jazz Ensemble
4 pm: C3 Big Band
5 pm: Grand Prairie Fine Art Academy
6 pm: Texas Sky
7 pm: Loose Thread
8 pm: PS 150 Band
9 pm: Tallgrass
10 pm: Maxwell Hall Jazz Band

Center Stage

9 am: Mariachi Los Vikingos
9:45 am: Bell Elementary Bell Tones
10 am: Providence Elementary Choir
10:30 am: Nelson Elementary Music Makers
11 am: Wilson Elementary All Star Choir
11:30 am: Houston Elementary Singers Choir
12 pm: Borman Elementary Drum
12:30 pm: Savannah Elementary Gator Choir
1 pm: Denton Public Library Music Mania Storytime
2 pm: McMath Middle School Show Choir
2:30 pm: Rivera Elementary All Star Singers
3 pm: Denton Childbloom Guitar Program
4 pm: Pecan Creek Bear Tones Choir/BMMS Jazz Band
4:30 pm: Tamba Marimba & Austin Marimba
5:30 pm: Paschal High School Jazz Combo I
6:30 pm: Texas Air National Guard Band Jazz Ensemble
7:30 pm: Kelbe Schrank
8:30 pm: Braswell High School Jazz Emsemble
9:15 pm: Timber Creek Jazz Band

Jazz Stage

sponsored by Wells Fargo & Budweiser
10 am: Bobby Falk
11:30 am: Gale Cruz
1 pm: Freddie Jones
2:30 pm: 2 Tone
4 pm: Poo Live Crew
5:30 pm: Stop Six

Courtyard Stage

sponsored by Budweiser
10:30 am: Skelton McKee
12 pm: Tin Man
1:30 pm: Tex Zimmerman
3 pm: Little Jack Melody & His Young Turks
4:30 pm: Love Past Blue
6 pm: Feen Boyette
7:30 pm: Big City Outlaws

Roving River Stage

sponsored by KNTU FM Radio 88.1
11 am: Beyond the Pale
12 pm: American Bedouin
1 pm: World Jazz Project
2 pm: Tailgate Poets
3 pm: Jeff Taylor Trio
4 pm: Linda Atwell
5 pm: Joe Pat Hennen
6:30 pm: Brian Houser

UNT Showcase Stage

sponsored by the University of North Texas
11 am: Lea Grant Group
11:30 am: Stephanie Hanson Group
12 pm: Una Tsai Group
12:30 pm: Lizzie Trumbore Group
1 pm: West End Vocal Jazz Group
1:30 pm: Third Street Vocal Jazz Ensemble
2:10 pm: Avenue C Vocal Jazz Ensemble
3 pm: UNT Jazz Singers
4 pm: Super 400 Electric Guitar Ensemble
5 pm: Mariachi Aguilas
6 pm: UNT Steel Drum Bands
7 pm: UNT African Percussion Ensemble

Festival Stage

sponsored by the Denton Record-Chronicle
11 am: Motif Dance Collaborative
11:15 am: Desert Diamonds
11:45 am: Cholo Rock Dance Collaborative
12:15 pm: Toni Garsh
1 pm: Cathouse Band
2 pm: Isis & the Star Dancers
3 pm: A Time to Dance Studio
4 pm: Rachel Yeatts & Blue Grass Fire
5 pm: Denton High School Gospel Ensemble
5:45 pm: Guyer High School Jazz Ensemble
6:15 pm: Pomegranate Vibrato
6:45 pm: TWU International Dance Company
7:30 pm: Richard Gilbert
8:30 pm: Fiddle Rascals

Celebration Stage

10:30 am: Fossil Ridge High School Jazz Band
11 am: Plano New Horizons Band
12 pm: Brookhaven Electric Guitar Ensemble
1 pm: Celebration Jazz Orchestra
2 pm: Immigrant Punk
3 pm: Chambers Creek
4 pm: Crosswinds Jazz Band
5 pm: Denton Tarrantinos
6 pm: First Denton Baptist Church
6:45 pm: Brookhaven College Jazz Band
8 pm: Bone Doggie
9 pm: Hippie Redneck Band

Center Stage

12 pm: Denton State Supported Living Center
1 pm: Young at Heart
2 pm: Denton Bell Band
3 pm: Denton New Horizons Band
4 pm: Olivia Countryman
5 pm: Skip & the Bad Hombres
6 pm: Strickland Middle School Jazz Band
6:30 pm: Tarrant County College SE Jazz Combo
7 pm: Tarrant County College SE Jazz Ensemble
7:30 pm: Salvation Army Praise Band

Know before you go! See the above map for spots to park before you make your way to Denton for the Arts & Jazz Festival. All of the lots in blue are FREE PUBLIC PARKING.

See a breakdown of all of the spots to park and how to do it at Denton Main Street Association’s website.

This year, the Denton Arts & Jazz Festival is partnering with the Denton County Transportation Authority to provide FREE shuttle service all three days of the fest!

Festivalgoers are encouraged to park at MedPark Train Station (located at 3220 MedPark Drive) or take the A-train to that station and hop on the shuttle, which will run every 30 minutes all weekend long. (NOTE: DCTA will be on its regular bus and train services, so there will be no service on Sunday, except for this special shuttle.)

Anyone can ride DCTA’s free shuttle service, which will pick up passengers from the MedPark Station and drop them off at Quakertown Park (festival location). The shuttle will run every 30 minutes. Below are key dates and times of DCTA’s free shuttle service:

  • Friday, April 27 – shuttle service begins at 3 p.m. and the last shuttle from the festival to MedPark Station departs at midnight. There will also be on additional late-night train that will depart the Downtown Denton Transit Center at 12:30 a.m.
  • Saturday, April 28 – shuttle service begins at 9:30 a.m. and the last shuttle from the festival to MedPark Station departs at midnight
  • Sunday, April 29 – shuttle service begins at 10:30 a.m. and the last shuttle from the festival to MedPark Station departs at 10:30 p.m.

Parking is completely free at all DCTA A-train stations. For full details on the shuttle and a transit trip planner, visit DCTA’s website.


Published on: Tue, Jan 10, 2017

The year is 1986. A troupe of dancers dressed in Egyptian costumes stand on a concrete stage. There is a crowd of people in front of them, parents eager to watch their children perform and festival-goers who are just interested in what is happening. The opening strains of the Bangles’ “Walk Like An Egyptian” get the group of girls, including nine-year-old Jen Peace, to, well, walk like Egyptians.

Afterwards, the girls climb off the stage, change out of their costumes, and spend the day running around, taking in the sights and sounds of the Spring Fling, the annual event that would grow over time into the Denton Arts and Jazz Festival.

To promote the arts, Carol threw herself into the creation of the Arts Guild and the Denton Festival Foundation, the organization responsible for producing the Denton Arts & Jazz Festival. And people could tell from day one that it was going to grow into something special – even if she wasn’t yet sure herself.The three-day festival, features more than 3,000 musicians, artists and performers and attracts some 225,000 visitors every April. Despite being a nationally-recognized festival, it has kept an authentic home-town feel that is unique to Denton, thanks to executive director Carol Short, who founded the festival in 1990, as well as the volunteers that dedicate themselves to the event each year.

“Carol, you created another monster,” said her husband after the first arts and jazz fest.

“Was it that bad?” she asked, concerned.

“No, it was great,” he said. “But I can tell it’s gonna take off.”

And take off it did.

“We bring in musicians, headliners, from New York, out of country – famous people who have won many Grammys,” Carol said. “It’s our reputation, it is free and we’re a family event.”

One of the most popular headliners, the yearly closers of the festival on Sunday, is Brave Combo, a “nuclear polka” band based in Denton.

The band, which formed in 1979, is known for crowd-engaging performances. In the band’s infancy, Brave Combo was performing at the house where Oak St. Drafthouse is now. After getting hundreds of people to collectively jump in one place, the beams supporting the floor gave in.

“People were hanging everywhere,” said Carl Finch, lead and founder of the Combo. “We were like ‘Aw man, this house is coming down – we gotta get the hell out of here!’ and everybody ran out.”

Though their performances at the Denton Arts and Jazz festival boasts a different vibe than their smoky house venue performances of the ‘80s, Brave Combo puts a lot of emphasis on the crowd.



“I know the Denton audience pretty well,” Carl said. “I know that over here there will be about a thousand kids moshing and I know what gets them going. Then there’s everybody else who is just trying to avoid that.”

At one performance, he noticed people setting up coolers and chairs in the area he was sure would later turn into a mosh pit.

“Some normal people got stuck in the fenced in area with all these kids, not knowing that it was going to be sardine city with people going berserk,” Carl said, chuckling at the memory.

He got the attention of some police officers and had them break open the chain link fence, but there was nowhere for people to go. So Carl invited them to sit backstage, while still allowing the kids to have a good time.

The Festival is not just about big names and headliners like Brave Combo – it’s also a place where other types of artists have a chance to show their particular brand of art, bringing back dozens of visual artists year after year.

“I don’t think people realize what a gem the festival is,” said longtime artist Mark Jiminez, who attends the festival annually. “I have done over 450 art shows in my career, and there is only one Denton. It has its own character, its own flavor.”

From musicians to artists, the Arts and Jazz Festival gives everyone a chance to shine, even children’s dance troupes, inspiring a lifelong love of art and the festival as well.

For Jen, the festival in which she once performed has now become a large part of her life. While working at the Springbok Academy in Denton, she was encouraged by her boss to get involved with the festival.

“If it wasn’t making something or getting supplies to the event, I was volunteering for it,” Jen said. “When I was 22, I worked in the Children’s Art Tent, and did that for four or five years.”

The festival played such a large role in Jen’s life that after she married her first husband, they headed to the festival straight from the altar. They spent the evening eating corn on the cob in wedding dress and tuxedo.

“I still have the memory of knowing that I got married on an important weekend,” Jen said. “I tied two things together that were major things in my life, and joined them as one.”

Jen moved on to work for several years with her best friend’s mother at a beer booth, eventually bringing her current husband, Kelly, on to work with her. After Kelly joined the Festival Foundation Board, Jen followed him and switched focus to the visual arts committee.

“That was a big, different leap for me,” Jen said, “because I was used to just hanging out in the beer booth and seeing people as they would come by, and interacting with the crowd that way.”
Despite only working on the visual arts committee for a short time, Jen has grown to love working with the artists that come for the Festival each year and helping them share both their stories and their art.

“It’s kind of a badge of honor for our city, in a way, to say ‘this is who we are. We throw the biggest free arts festival in the state. We do this for you. We do this for the people and the artists to share their work,’” Jen said. “And I think that really is the definition of what Denton is. And Denton is home, so for me, the festival is the embodiment of home.”

The festival experience has come full circle for Jen and her family, as she watches her own daughter perform at the festival from the same vantage point where her mother stood.

“I did it when I was young, and she’s doing it now, and I hope that one day if she grows up and stays in Denton, she’ll find her way to the Board and serve as well,” Jen said. “I think it would be a cool tradition to keep. It’s a great thing to support.”