Denton is far from von Trapp territory, but it’s fair to say the Square is alive with the sound of music.
The downtown Square, to be exact. The former home of Norah Jones, Meat Loaf and Don Henley of the Eagles, Denton has always been a musical city. But in recent years, the city has experienced a cultural and artistic boom that rivals that of any town in America. As local musician Tim Phillips notes, Denton is a “sort of small town,” a comfy community with big-city amenities and a big-city music scene. The heart of that scene is the downtown Square, an entertainment epicenter where musicians ply their trades, families enjoy free concerts and Denton denizens — aka “Dentonites” — revel in the creative community that has become a Texas gem.
On any given evening, you can stroll through downtown Denton and hear music flowing from the Square. Some of these tunes are organic, a natural fixture of life in the heart of Denton’s cultural center. Guitarists fill the evening air with covers or their own creations, and passerby stop to admire their artistry in between burgers at local favorite Lone Star Attitude or old-fashioned ice cream at Beth Marie’s. Other times the music emanates from an event on the Square, a musical mishmash like Twilight Tunes.
Brought to you by the Denton Main Street Association, this free concert series gives Dentonites and visitors alike the chance to enjoy local crooners, songstresses and beat-makers while chilling in the confines of downtown. It’s the perfect place for a rendezvous with friends or a calm evening out with the family — and it all comes at no cost.
Christine Gossett, a dedicated Main Street Association board member, believes there’s much more than tunes to Twilight Tunes. “Not a lot of cities have a large lawn around a historic courthouse,” Gusset explains, “and our lawn is a relaxing place to sit and listen to the music while having a picnic. It’s a place where you can meet up with friends or run into an old friend.”
The courthouse itself has long been a focal point of downtown Denton, and the in-house museum recently celebrated 40 years with an exhibit honoring the numerous historical and cultural artifacts that have been a part of the town’s story over the last four decades. That seamless intersection of history, culture, arts and music makes downtown prime real estate, and once you’re there, you can enjoy an array of fine and delicious Denton dining.
Burgers, ice cream and upscale fare are all available alongside esteemed coffee shops. In the moodforAmericana? Try Barley & Board, a brick building
brewpub boasting a trendy menu. Fancy a slice of pizza? You can never go wrong with J & J’s Pizza, the no-frills, all-flavor eatery that includes a basement for live music. All of these options and more are within earshot of Denton’s many music venues. “In Denton,” says longtime resident Judy Smith, “you can see music for a $5 cover charge that might cost a fortune at other venues.”
And you don’t have to wait for others to make the music, either. In summer 2018, Denton hosted its first ever Make Music Day, an international celebration where Dentonites joined music veterans to learn instruments and create together. After a day of drums, ukuleles, boomwhackers and basses, several local artists took to the courthouse stage for a free Twilight Tunes concert. The sun set on another day of harmony on the Square, illuminating the artists, friends, family and Dentonites that make downtown Denton a vibrant, must-see place.