Spring Music Safari invigorates East Kessler Park with free music on a Sunday afternoon

A crowd in front of a modern home watching a band

Cure For Paranoia playing Kessler Studio at the East Kessler Park Spring Music Safari 2023. Photo: Jessica Waffles

The neighborhood of East Kessler Park in Oak Cliff celebrated music on Sunday, inviting the public to enjoy performances at their homes – a tradition that started when COVID social distancing was the norm.

“I just got the feeling that everyone was getting depressed and a little desperate and that live music was something we really missed doing together, like group therapy almost,” Floramay Holliday said in an interview with Advocate Oak Cliff.

Now in its fourth year, the Spring Music Safari featured 14 musical acts at 10 houses, most of which were the homes of the musicians. Each destination was marked with an animal – such as flamingos, giraffes, dragons and unicorns.

A woman playing keyboard and singing

Indie rock / folk artist Caitlyn King playing a set during the Spring Music Safari. Photo: Jessica Waffles

A band playing

Michael Donner & the Southern Renaissance playing on a porch. Photo: Jessica Waffles

A woman singing and a man playing guitar

Pop duo SMUG (Summer + Doug) playing during the Spring Music Safari. Photo: Jessica Waffles

Photographer Kathy Tran is a new addition to the neighborhood, and has been working diligently with her fiancé (Daniel Rockey) and business partners to use their new East Kessler Park home to invigorate the community through a shared vision of collaboration.

“When I moved into the neighborhood 6 months ago, I was excited to make new friends within the community and learn about the events that brought people together,” Tran said.  “When we discovered the music safari it confirmed this was truly the perfect home and place. My team and I worked quickly to get involved.”

A woman and child sitting, hand reached out to pet a small dog

There were many doggos out and about during the free family-friendly Music Safari in the East Kessler Park neighborhood. Photo: Jessica Waffles

Two men playing guitar, one singing

Americana artist Noah Caveny & the A.R.K. playing in their front yard. Photo: Jessica Waffles

A group of people and a large dog

Some people enjoying the sounds of Noah Caveny and the company of a large floofy pup. Photo: Jessica Waffles

Kessler Studio (the name of their home) brought in a new crowd to the annual event, showcasing 3 local acts that drew music lovers from beyond the East Kessler Neighborhood.

“Throughout the year, I enjoy meeting new people and keeping connections in mind for future collaborations,” Tran said. “The artists that joined us for the event were individuals that we had met in the past. The first band, Leo Sun Project, rented Kessler Studio to record their Tiny Desk submission. Los Beckleys, another band that played is named after a street in Oak Cliff and truly represents the neighborhood. Lastly, Cure for Paranoia has been a friend of mine for years, and I’ve collaborated with their lead singer Cam in the past.”

Two men smiling

Jeff Nelson (left) and Tim Kellis (right) enjoying the music at the Happy Campers house show. Photo: Jessica Waffles

A band performing inside a garage with a seated audience in front of it

Happy Campers performing during the Spring Music Safari. Photo: Jessica Waffles

A guitarist and bassist playing music

Sweatin’ Bullets performing. Photo: Jessica Waffles

The communal nature of the Spring Music Safari was the most striking aspect of the event, as attendees and neighbors walked from house to house, often with children or dogs in tow.

Some homes had free refreshments, some had pop-up vendors like You’re My Jam – a homemade jam small business started by a grade schooler named Charlie B. that features inventive flavors such as Blueberry Lime, Black Pepper Plum and Cherry Habanero.

As you witnessed the simple joys the event brought to the community, it was easy to see why the neighborhood embraced the concept after the COVID epidemic passed.

“As soon as Daniel and I heard about [the Music Safari], we were eager to be a part of it and contribute in any way possible,” Tran said. “This event helped me realize that I am not only fortunate to live in this wonderful neighborhood, but also in the best section of Kessler Park full of neighbors who share a love for art, music, and community, which was truly inspiring. We are in the right place.”

Pink yard flamingos

Pink yard flamingos were positioned all over the yard at the Happy Campers’ house for the festive event. Photo: Jessica Waffles

A tent with refreshments

Some refreshments were available at the Happy Campers house. Photo: Jessica Waffles

A full band performing

Los Beckleys performing at Kessler Studio during the Spring Music Safari. Photo: Jessica Waffles

There was a sense of awe in the crowd that was palpable during the event, as Kessler Studio continues to contribute to experiences that are unique and supportive of the area.

“I had no idea this neighborhood was so cool,” event attendee Desirée Bishop said in front of Kessler Studio. “This place is really happening. Maybe I’ll move here too!”

A singer performing

Los Beckleys frontman Albert Rivera at Kessler Studio. Photo: Jessica Waffles

A full band on stage and a full crowd

The crowd outside Kessler Studio to see Cure For Paranoia during the Spring Music Safari. Photo: Jessica Waffles

A man wearing a jacket that says "'eye' refuse to kill another human being in the name of a government"

Cure For Paranoia’s Tomahawk Jonez sporting a one-of-a-kind design by local artist Jerod “DTOX” Davies. Photo: Jessica Waffles

When it comes to future endeavors for the studio, Tran said, “Besides curated wellness events such as soundbaths and yoga, Kessler Studio has a new event experience that Daniel and I are cooking up called ‘Creative Admirers.’ To give you a background; my fiancé Daniel is obsessed with fixing and collecting typewriters and writes me daily love letters. We wanted to create a networking event that is fun and allows you to show appreciation and support for a randomly assigned guest by typing them an encouraging letter anonymously.”

As for the Music Safari, keep an eye out for the Fall edition (TBA) and the return of the the Spring safari next year in May. Supported by the East Kessler Park Neighborhood Association.

Dorothy Jeffress and Dezi 5 taking in the music at Kessler Studio. Photo: Jessica Waffles

A couple smiling at each other

Kessler Studio homeowners Kathy Tran and Daniel Rockey basking in the glow of the beautiful day that came together for the Spring Music Safari in East Kessler Park. Photo: Jessica Waffles

A bassist playing on stage

KJ Gray performs as part of Cure For Paranoia at Kessler Studio. Photo: Jessica Waffles

A full band on stage in front of a large home

Cure For Paranoia closed out the stage at Kessler Studio during the Spring Music Safari. Photo: Jessica Waffles

A percussionist playing on stage and smiling

Nicholas Rothouse plays on stage with Cure For Paranoia. Rothouse has been out of town on tour, having recently been playing with Tom Misch in the UK/Asia and played Coachella (weekend 1) with SG Lewis. Photo: Jessica Waffles

A band on stage

Cure For Paranoia on stage at Kessler Studio for the Spring Music Safari. Photo: Jessica Waffles

A front lawn filled with people

The Spring Music Safari public after party at the Happy Campers house. Photo: Jessica Waffles

Jessica Waffles is a freelance photographer/videographer and regular contributor to KXT. 

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