The first annual Rock the Republic was held on October 15-17, 2009 in downtown Bryan, Texas. This event was a three night “Spectacle of Sight and Sound” which presented a variety of musicians, artists and slam poets exclusively from Texas.
RTR featured a variety of performing and fine arts in attempt to relate to everyone’s interests. There was live music, a poetry slam, variety show, dance contest and a free-style BMX race. Painting and other local original artwork was displayed throughout the different venues.
“No one has ever combined the worlds of Texas music and Slam Poetry like we have!” John Wesley, Entertainment Director said.
The turnout was great with lines outside most of the venues as late as 11 p.m.
“The event was amazing! I can’t count how many people came up to me or other organizers to thank us for putting on this event. Quite a few bands told me that this was the most amazing festival that they have ever played in or attended. I am still in awe of what happened this past weekend! For lack of better words, it was magical,” Wesley said.
Slam poetry is a competition at which poets read or recite original work and are judged by randomly selected audience members. “Slam poetry is big, but it’s still kind of underground,” Stephen Sargent, sponsorship director for the event, said.
Two-time Individual World Poetry Slam Champion, Buddy Wakefield, preformed some of his esteemed work. Four poets from the HBO television program “Def Poetry” also attended the event.
There were 100 bands that performed 60-90 minute sets. This large time frame gave the bands time to shine to their full potential without being rushed. Some favorite local acts included StrawberryJAM and Flawless Escape. Other bands from surrounding areas were The Black and White Year and Jonathan Tyler and the Northern Lights.
“[It is] so hard to say what the best performances were. We literally had the very best bands and poets from across the entire state of Texas! A lot of fans raved about The Black and White Years, Keite Young, Oso Closo, Suzanna Choffel, Odis , and Jonathan Tyler and the Northern Lights. There are too many ridiculously great acts to isolate what the best show was,” Wesley said.
Downtown Bryan was the chosen location because the RTR staff members believe it has enormous untapped potential.
“This is an amazing place to be with a lot of young people who are craving great music,” Wesley said. “They don’t always want to have to drive 200 miles to hear it or see it.”
There are currently plans for a Rock the Republic in 2010.
“There was never any intention but to put on a “spectacle” that will last for ages,” Wesley said. “No one had ever done what we just accomplished. We had the best of both worlds. The most amazing spoken word poets (slam poets) and musicians from ever major region in Texas. Not to mention the great artwork from across the state that we displayed at the various venues. It was an unbelievable experience.”