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By Rebecca Fiedler
The music festival began slowly with Common Grounds staff members composing a large amount of this audience, along with a small handful of music supporters.
One of the first people to perform was the Common Grounds live event coordinator Wes Butler.
Butler played a number of acoustic songs he has written for his wife throughout the course of their relationship, including one called “Heart Beats Harder.”
“It’s an old song,” Butler said. “It’s from right when my wife and I first started kind of dating and we were both going through some baggage. I feel like we kind of had some walls up and the song is essentially saying, ‘I want to fight for this. Show me yourself.’”
Butler said he considers himself an acoustic pop and rock artist, and lives in Waco with his wife, working at Common Grounds, taking the stage every now and then, and traveling and leading worship for student events.
Another act early on in the expo was Kat Dixon; vocalist, guitarist and mandolin player for the local band Married with Sea Monsters.
Dixon played a glossy, black electric guitar, singing in a blues style reminiscent of artist Adele. All but one of her songs were original.
“I would just love to not have a day job,” Dixon said. “I just want to write music all the time. That’s what I want to do for a living.”
Dixon expressed herself not only through her music, but through her clothing as well, sporting a long floral dress, her red hair formed into dreadlocks, adorned with an antique-looking tiara and pearl style beading.
“I pretty much just open my jewelry box each morning and try to fit as much on as I can,” Dixon said. “I figured I was playing a show at two in the afternoon. I thought I might as well be as ridiculous as possible.”
Dixon said she exposes her emotional struggles through her lyrics. Her guitar twanged her voice projected, her songs winding through blue notes. Later in the day, Andrew Sullivan, another acoustic pop and rock musician, assisted on the cajon, a box-shaped percussion instrument manipulated with the hands and heel of the foot, by his one-shoed percussionist, Rick Harn, played.
Sullivan is a professional musician from Dallas and sells his music on CDs and through forums like iTunes.
The lack of audience didn’t seem to dissuade Sullivan. He had a cheerful disposition.
“I graduated and started writing music, and I’m paying all the bills right now,” Sullivan said of himself and his family. “We’re happy and I’m playing several times a week. So I may not be Dave Barnes or something like that, but I’d like to be.”
More people were present for the rock music of Austin-based group Quiet Company, whose music pierced eardrums with the sound of guitars, keyboards, drums, a red electric trombone, and a melodica — a modified form of the harmonica that looks like a mini electric keyboard and is powered by the musician blowing into a tube.
Had the band chosen to call themselves “Beard,” their name would have been less contradictory to their presentation. Each of the five members sported a similarly-styled brown beard; a style the band bares thanks to the influence of the bearded lead singer, said Matt Parmenter, the band’s bass guitarist.
The band emoted with every note. Lead singer Taylor Muse leapt and twirled around the stage with his guitar, flipping his hair and bowing deep, waving his hand in the air, running his fingers over his scalp.
“Last time we played here, I fell off the stage,” Muse said after almost tripping over a rug on stage.
All of the band members played emphatically. “We always seem to have the ability to win crowds,” Parmenter said. “If they haven’t seen us before, they tend to enjoy what they see. I don’t think that’s an arrogant statement; it’s just, like, an observation. I feel like we’ve got a pretty energetic live show”
Quiet Company and its members broke a record at last year’s Austin Music Awards, winning 10 awards at the event, including best drummer, best producer and best indie rock band, Parmenter said.
When almost no one answered when Muse asked the band’s audience members how they were doing, Muse said with a smile, “Kill yourselves.” However, he revised the previous statement later, when he cultivated a laugh from the audience, and said, “OK, live.”