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The University Star




The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

Local musicians to take the stage at SMFest

Garrett+Douglas+and+Sean+Ryan+play+with+their+band%2C+Summer+Rental%2C+on+the+courthouse+stage+at+SMFest+2021.

Garrett Douglas and Sean Ryan play with their band, Summer Rental, on the courthouse stage at SMFest 2021.

Right along the banks of Sewell Park in San Marcos to the street of Kissing Alley, music can be heard from a mile away on the outdoor stages of one of the biggest musical events of the year for locals and students, San Marcos Festival (SMFest) a community-driven showcase of San Marcos artists, musicians and creatives.
SMFest is a free citywide music festival and market featuring local San Marcos bands and artists from Oct. 21 to 23 at downtown San Marcos venues and outdoor performance areas.
For seven years SMFest has been hosting local music, art and comedy, being spearheaded by event group Apogee Presents. Giving a platform to local performers, the event is a footnote in the San Marcos music scene in breathing life into local new artists.
Mike Howard, a lead organizer in Apogee’s San Marcos branch, was handed the torch to run SMFest in 2018, taking on large-scale and local acts. Since taking over, Howard plans to keep true to the original formula of the event, while also adding his own touch by incorporating a community aspect to the festival.
“This year I vision a festival, a three-day event, where we’re doing music at different local downtown businesses [and mixing] that in with a parade,” Howard said.
Howard’s overall intention and goal is to be able to not only throw a great concert but also to get the community involved as much as possible in the festival. He highlights and drives foot traffic to the local businesses that are serving as venues for SMFest like Zelick’s Icehouse and Red Room Social Lounge.
The contributions Howard has made to the local music community have created several talented groups of musicians, helping them create names for themselves by giving opportunities to each generation of musicians. Summer Rental, a local indie-pop rock band in the works of making a name for itself, is one band that SMFest presents with pride.
Summer Rental started out as a passion project of Garrett Douglas, a Texas State music education alumnus. He spent the time he lived in San Marcos playing small solo acoustic sets while attending Texas State before forming and getting the ball rolling his junior year. Douglas wrote songs for smaller solo acoustic sets before getting serious.
“I [started] writing songs when I was maybe like 14 or 15,” Douglas said. “I played in a band in high school out in Atlanta and I was always like the acoustic guy playing like three-hour sets in whatever restaurant or coffee shop anywhere.”
Not long after the release of the first album, “Take Me With You,” in 2019 which Douglas wrote, produced and recorded, he and his roommate at the time, Sean McDermott who is the drummer of Summer Rental, met keyboardist and guitarist Sean Ryan and Ben Steen, through mutual friends. The band started recording its first album at Steen’s father’s backyard studio.
At this point, we’ve put out two albums and an EP, and so it feels like we’ve had a lot of material where we had like a sound,” Douglas said. “I think we’re at a point where we realize now we can just kind of release as much stuff as we want, and so we’re trying to branch out and find new elements and different sounds to incorporate.”
Summer Rental played SMFest at both the 2019 and 2020 festivals, each at different points in their career and each time approaching with a new and fresh sound. Playing gigs around San Marcos and Austin is what helped Summer Rental secure a spot on the SMFest 2019 lineup which led to a plethora of shows that followed.
People like Howard have helped create a new environment to grow the local music audience and promote smaller artists who intend to cement themselves in San Marcos and play in the Central Texas area.
Over the years, Howard has witnessed the incline and decline of each generation of San Marcos musicians and how it affects the local community. His desire to host something like SMFest came to be out of a pure drive to get live music out. Closures of venues like Triple Crown, a live music venue in San Marcos that permanently closed in 2015, prompted Howard to create new spaces for local musicians.
“The Triple Crown closed down and literally left this vacuum, where there was really no place for musicians to play outside of coffee bars,” Howard said.
Howard has helped bring a lot of highly talented musicians into the local spotlight. Kenny Normal, a local alternative band in this year’s SMFest lineup, has been playing all over town for years. This will not be their first year at SMFest.
The band started to form with Will Acosta and Kolten Bippert who grew up together in San Antonio. They both attended Texas State and eventually would meet the rest of Kenny Normal in the Bobcat Marching Band.
Started as a cover band that within three years of jamming around had gone through member cycles, leaving Acosta, Bippert, Ben Slade on drums, and Adrian Lamphier on bass, to be what makes up Kenny Normal now. Since then, they have been in the San Marcos circuit of venues and festivals on being SMFest.
“Having played SMFest in the past like we’re able to take the experience we had and like you know, adopt the show,” Acosta said. “I mean that’s every show. Yeah, you know, we try out different like setlists to try out different parts of songs where we’re playing differently than we normally would.”
Being around for so long in the circuit officially since 2019, Acosta expresses his generosity and how much support and confidence he has for all of the San Marcos music scene and community.
“Every band has an opportunity to play a show,” Acosta said. “Like, if there’s a new band, it’s not hard for them to get booked for a show. Like it really isn’t like a band, the band keeper that’s gonna play at our house show now will be their first show. Ever. Because we know these people and we know they play well. They’re developing and it’s really cool to see it.”
For official set times and venue locations for San Marcos Fest 2022, visit @smfest on Instagram. For more information on Summer Rental, visit @summerrentalband on Instagram. For more information on Kenny Normal, visit @kennynormal on Instagram.

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