Inaugural Frontera festival blends music, literature and more in Oak Cliff

Bass Drum of Death will headline Friday night at Frontera. Photo: Fat Possum Records

This weekend, artistic disciplines will collide in the Bishop Arts District.

Three Oak Cliff venues — The Wild Detectives, the Kessler Theater and the Texas Theatre — will play host to Frontera, a new kind of festival blending music, literature, comic books and film over two days.

Frontera is meant, according to press materials, to “highlight the uniqueness of the southwest region where [U.S. and Latin America] cultures and languages intersect … in one of Dallas’s most vibrant communities.”

The inaugural Frontera, which is sponsored by Southwest Review, the third-longest-running literary quarterly in the country, and Southern Methodist University’s Department of English, is free for all events and open to the public, on a first-come, first-served basis.

“The idea behind the festival is also the idea behind the magazine: let’s combine literature from English-speaking North America with literature from Spanish-speaking Latin America and then throw in some comics, music, and film — mix it all up and make sure it’s a good time had by all,” said Southwest Review editor Greg Brownderville via email. “We’re bringing in a lot of writers we’ve published and loved working with.”

Frontera kicks off Friday at the Wild Detectives with a discussion between comics creators Los Bros Hernandez, which will be followed by an evening of live music at the Kessler Theater, headlined by Mississippi garage punks Bass Drum of Death, with Los Tigres de Borges and Special Interest rounding out the bill.

On Saturday, Frontera continues with a series of readings at the Wild Detectives, featuring an eclectic mix of authors: Luis Jorge Boone, Jimmy Cajoleas, Sylvia Georgina Estrada, Mark Haber, Julian Herbert, Fernanda Melchor, Mary Miller, David Leo Rice and Bud Smith.

The Texas Theatre will play host to Saturday’s finale, as writer Barry Gifford shares a conversation with William Boyle. Additionally, novelist and songwriter Willy Vlautin will perform, followed by a screening of Wild at Heart, director David Lynch’s film adaptation of Gifford’s novel.

Frontera will wrap it up with an afterparty back at the Wild Detectives, following the screening at the Texas Theatre, featuring a DJ set from End of All Music.

“The way we see it, we’re bringing the magazine to life in Bishop Arts,” Brownderville said via email.

Frontera, Bishop Arts District, Dallas. April 12-13. Admission is free.

Preston Jones is a North Texas freelance writer and regular contributor to KXT. Email him at [email protected] or find him on X (@prestonjones). Our work is made possible by our generous, music-loving members. If you like how we lift up local music, consider becoming a KXT sustaining member right here.