By Hayley Gibson
Common Grounds live event coordinator and musician Wes Butler lets the Lariat in on the secrets to success at CG’s rapidly growing backyard stage presence.
From the details on what exactly Butler looks for in an artist to the gigs CG is working on bringing to us next year, Butler reveals the details of CG’s backyard.
Q: How has the CG stage evolved or changed since artists started playing here?
A: I think one of the great things that happened was a lot of the artists that came and played at CG continued to play at CG and as they grew, our platform grew. We started hosting bigger and bigger shows, maybe because of the growth of our artists. Caveman’s Callback, Green River Ordinance and Jillian Edwards are some of those artists that were smaller when they started playing here [who] blew up and continued to play here… we even had John Mayer come one year. There is actually going to be a documentary on what goes into making a show here with filming [today] at the Shane & Shane show.
Q: What do you typically look for in an artist that you want to play at CG?
A: I look for original content and something that’s real. The reason we don’t book a lot of pop artists is because we are looking for more depth in songs and things that people just have to be listening to. We’re looking for the “you’ve gotta hear this” feeling. The “it-factor” with me is when you say “I want to share this with you.” The biggest things I look for are originality, depth and even just creative musicality. That’s what music is.
Q: How do you manage to book big name bands like The Civil Wars or Mutemath?
A: We were fortunate to get Civil Wars before they won the Grammy. Basically what we try to do at CG is expose great music and great things about the city of Waco to our customers. I think it is a gift that we’ve had Sondre Lerche. A lot of people don’t follow him, but he’s a phenomenal artist. It’s been awesome that we were able to have him. Sometimes it’s people that contact us or we work with different booking organizations that work with artists who come through Texas on tour.
Q: Why is the stage important to the atmosphere of CG?
A: It’s outside. The inside of CG is like a tree house. That’s what you feel like when you’re in there. Outside is the art that it sits in. The stage is the front lawn. This is where we all gather and have fun and watch movies and share our songs. I think that CG would be severely lacking if we didn’t have our stage here. It just completes our whole atmosphere.
Q: At open mic nights, a lot of local bands and Baylor students have a chance to play. Why are open mic nights core to the CG community?
A: We try to promote originality at open mic night. We don’t ever want to turn away people from expressing themselves or playing shows or covers. We want to inspire creativity in any way we can. We want to inspire the creative experience, the transparence of sharing your songs and who you are. Being your own person. CG is great because we want to share a lot of great things but we also want you to share yourself and be yourself.
Q: What’s in store for CG next semester?
A: There are a lot of things we’re working on, but not a lot nailed down. We’ve targeted a lot of bigger acts and the possibility of having Justin Towns Earle, Drew Holcomb and The Neighbors, and Ginny Simmons come.
We will also have a “Rock Star Pass” here where you pay $100 for the semester to get into all live events at Common Grounds.