2023 Photos of the Year: In the Heart of the Music Scene

Join us as we take a look back at some of the best photos of 2023 taken by KXT music journalist Jessica Waffles in the category of: In the Heart of the Music Scene.

A full band on stage

Sierra Ferrell at her sold-out show in Dallas at Granada Theater on March 12, 2023. Photo: Jessica Waffles

1. Sierra Ferrell’s sold-out show at Granda Theater

Granada Theater is a pillar in the community that hosts a slew of touring and local acts, and the sold out show with Sierra Ferrell dazzled the Dallas audience. The crowd was treated to an evening of soulful, authentic country and folk music that showcased the unique talents of Ferrell and Jaime Wyatt.

A musician sings on stage

JoAnn Henkel of Hen and the Cocks leaves it all on stage at one of the most active performers in the music scene. Photo: Jessica Waffles

2. Hen and the Cocks at Thin Line Fest in Denton

Thin Line Fest is a free five-day festival that showcases documentary films, music and photography in Denton. Festivities kicked off at Andy’s Bar, Campus Theater and Sunago Bell in Downtown Denton Square. Thin Line Fest is the longest-running documentary film festival, started in 2007 by founder and UNT alum Joshua Butler.

Two men performing playing guitar, singing

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit’s new album Weathervanes drops June 9. Photo: Jessica Waffles

3. Jason Isbell at KXT Live Session

Jason Isbell stopped in at the KXT Live Session studio, playing songs from his 2023 album Weathervanes and answering questions about his recent HBO documentary, his Twitter antics, and his upcoming role in Martin Scorsese’s film Killers of the Flower Moon.

Fort Worth visual artist Jana Renée drew Celestial L’amour while she was on stage, and gave it to her after the set. Photo: Jessica Waffles

4. The Cicada opens in Fort Worth

The building that was once home to beloved Fort Worth music venue Main at South Side was reborn into a new spot called The Cicada. Co-owners (and married couple) Tyler Anne Stevens and John Stevens opened The Cicada in March – giving musicians, comedians and community a place to gather and share art.

A group of people dancing on grass

Attendees dancing to the song “I Kissed A Girl” during The Roommate’s set at Dallas Pride Music Festival 2023. Photo: Jessica Waffles

5. Dallas Pride Music Festival celebrates 40 years

The Dallas Pride Music Festival celebrated 40 years over the weekend, showcasing LGBTQ+ music artists and performers over three stages, transforming Fair Park into a vibrant celebration of love, diversity and music. Across three stages, the diversity of local talent genres and styles provided something for everyone.

A singer on stage

The Polyphonic Spree was founded by Tim DeLaughter, who was previously a member of Tripping Daisy. Photo: Jessica Waffles

6. The Polyphonic Spree’s 23rd anniversary party at Longhorn Ballroom

One of The Polyphonic Spree’s defining features is their matching ensembles – a visual element that adds to their theatrical stage presence. With over 20 members on stage, The Polyphonic Spree’s music features rich harmonies, orchestral arrangements, and a wide variety of instruments. The immersive sound carries themes of love, unity and spirituality.

Two musicians on stage

Scott Tucker took off his guitar for a song, allowing for boundless expression with his full body with his band Aztec Milk Temple. Photo: Jessica Waffles

7. Aztec Milk Temple at ’til Midnight at the Nasher

’til Midnight at the Nasher is a Summer staple, supporting local live music alongside movie screenings. Getting to see Aztec Milk Temple on the outdoor stage surrounded by large art sculptures was a highlight of the season. The rock-n-roll lineup also featured Pet Taxi and Chancla Fight Club.

A musician playing keyboard and singing

Sam Comier played Aloha for Lahaina at Opening Bell Coffee. Photo: Jessica Waffles

8. “Aloha for Lahaina” at Opening Bell Coffee

In the wake of the devastating wildfires that swept through parts of Hawaii, Dallas artists came together to raise funds to help the Hawaiian recovery. The lineup of musicians included David Crandall, Sam Cormier, Katherine Paterson, Carly Carroll, and Jeffrey Michael Widman.

Dancers dancing

The joy that dancing brings was apparent on the faces of attendees. Photo: Jessica Waffles

9. Swing dance nights at Sons of Hermann Hall

Swing dancing has a rich history of bringing people together in lively social gatherings. Jerry Warwick and his wife Cat Warwick, a seasoned swing dancing instructing duo, have been sharing the joy of swing dancing at the iconic Sons of Hermann Hall for over two decades. Check it out on Wednesday nights in Deep Ellum.

A bassist on stage

KJ Gray brings the funky bass lines to Disney. Photo: Jessica Waffles

10. We Them Grays continue their Disney concert tradition

The Dallas music group We Them Grays, comprised of the talented siblings Kierra Gray, KJ Gray and Kwinton Gray, once again enchanted audiences with the return of their Disney concert. This year’s event was hosted at the Box Garden Theater at Legacy Hall in Plano.

Two musicians on stage

Kirk Thurmond (right) on stage with Nick Snyder (left) for Boarded Up Foundation’s community event “Mic’d Up.” Photo: Jessica Waffles

11. Boarded Up Foundation’s showcase at Louie Louie’s

Labor Day in the heart of Deep Ellum was filled with joy and music at Louie Louie’s, featuring a concert presented by nonprofit Boarded Up Foundation for their event “Mic’d Up.” Fundraising and awareness were at the forefront of the night, giving local music supporters a chance to get to know the team behind Boarded Up Foundation and their mission of supporting local independent artists.

A musician playing keyboard on stage and singing

Austin-based Dancey Jenkins’ performance was thoughtfully engaging at The Kessler. Photo: Jessica Waffles

12. Dancey Jenkins at Kessler Theater

The night at Kessler Theater was a lively celebration for Wesley Geiger’s new album No Cigar, though this photo from Dancey Jenkins’ set remains a favorite from the year. The night was full of thoughtful performances, diving into the intricately woven tapestry of each artist’s psyche. The sheer amount of expertise on stage at any given moment dazzled the room with sonically playful melodies.

A musician on stage

Jack Barksdale opened the show at Get Loud with KXT hosted at Klyde Warren Park. Photo: Jessica Waffles

13. Jack Barksdale at Get Loud with KXT

Celebrating KXT’s local music month in October, the evening was a showcase of North Texas talent. Local artists Jack Barksdale, Remy Reilly, and Lou CharLe$ graced the stage, filling the night with soulful melodies and powerful performances

A kid getting a setlist signed

A young fans gets a Shakey Graves autograph at Longhorn Ballroom. Photo: Jessica Waffles

14. Shakey Graves at Longhorn Ballroom

The tour celebrating Shakey Graves’ new album Movie of the Week was everything you could’ve wanted and more. Getting to see musicians at the top of their game is a special thing, and this show was one of the best of the year.

A singer surrounded by an audience sitting on the floor with their phone lights lit

Genesis Owusu walked into the crowd during “A Song About Fishing,” asking the crowd to take a seat at The Studio at The Factory in Deep Ellum. Photo: Jessica Waffles

15. Genesis Owusu at The Studio at The Factory

Genesis Owusu graced the stage at The Studio at The Factory in November, delivering a performance that left the audience in awe. The event was a showcase of his new album Struggler, as well as songs from his critically-acclaimed 2021 album Smiling with No Teeth.

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

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