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England’s Western Swing: Fort Worth sends musicians to London on concert excursion

Fort Worth is lending its voice – seven of them, actually – to the Texas Music Takeover in London.

It’s the second year the Fort Worth Convention and Visitors Bureau will be the presenting sponsor of Fort Worth-based Rival Entertainment’s Texas Music Takeover in London from Oct 10-16. The six-day concert series spotlights 13 Texas musicians, including seven from Fort Worth, in venues across the city.

The Fort Worth seven are: Abraham Alexander, Austin Allsup, Casey Donahew, Joey Green, Pat Green, Grady Spencer and Luke Wade.

“Music is an amazing element in our lives. It defines generations. It spans generations. In a heartbeat, it takes you back in time. It’s energizing,” said Bob Jameson, president and CEO of the Fort Worth CVB. “It matches your mood and it sets a mood. It just has a remarkable impact in our life.”

The concert series gives the bureau a chance to leverage Fort Worth musicians in the United Kingdom and launch a promotion to attract U.K. residents to the shows and promote travel to Fort Worth. The United Kingdom is the No. 1 source of overseas visitors to Fort Worth and Texas.

“It is clear that music also helps define a destination,” Jameson said. “We have used music as we have created special, local experiences here. We have introduced local music in order to personalize the experience, create a vibe and heighten interest.”

In the past year the Convention and Visitors Bureau and the city of Fort Worth have used music to help highlight things to do in the city, featuring local music in marketing and advertising, on social media and by taking artists along on CVB’s international travel.

During a kickoff for the London event on Sept. 27 at McDavid Studio in downtown Fort Worth, Jameson noted other city events that highlight music in Fort Worth — from Friday on the Green to Party on the Porch to Bands on the Bricks — and the places that support the city’s growing music scene such as Cowtown Coliseum, Billy Bob’s and Bass Hall.

“There is a tremendous music scene in Texas. Music is great for tourism, it is great for our quality of life. It filters into so many things that we do and have to share.”

And share the music is something the CVB certainly plans to do.

“What brings us here today is Texas Music Takeover and we want to thank our friends with Rival Entertainment. They have put together a great experience,” Jameson said at the kickoff. “This is year two of taking great Texas musicians over to our No. 1 international market, which is the United Kingdom. And in London we are going to be playing some Texas music with great Texas artists and seven of them are from here in Fort Worth.”

Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price said, “I hope London is ready for the Texas Music Takeover.”

“I don’t have to tell you that Fort Worth is indeed a music city. It always has been,” Price said. “As mayor, I’ve had the opportunity to watch it grow and expand and it’s so exciting to see our music scene really coming along.”

She added, “It’s really the honky-tonks, the small honky-tonks, that put Fort Worth on the map. … There are just too many to name, but they are the favorite spots for people to go and really enjoy it.

“Let’s keep honky-tonkin’ right here in Fort Worth!” she exclaimed.

Price presented a certificate of recognition to representatives from Rival Entertainment for helping with the event, which “provides a great platform to share the story of Fort Worth with the U.K.,” she said. “Contributions like yours help put our city on the map.”

But sending off the musicians wasn’t the only item on the evening’s agenda.

“Today we are proud to announce that we have a special project coming together where we are teaming with the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce, Bell Helicopter, Firestone and Robinson, Hear Fort Worth, the Fort Worth Film Commission and others so that this March we’re going to create the first Fort Worth house at South by Southwest,” Jameson said.

“We are going to tell all elements of the Fort Worth story to an international audience,” Jameson said, referring to the huge annual music and media event in Austin. “We’re going to showcase our innovation, tell a story of technology in our community, we’re going to share about film, share about food, tourism, business and, of course, local music.”

The SXSW announcement of the “house” or showcase wasn’t the only highlight of the event, however, as Brendan Anthony, director of Texas Music Office in the office of the governor, stepped up to the podium.

“When you live in a place like Fort Worth that is a city on the rise, and it most definitely is a city on the rise, it will get harder and harder and harder to make a living doing what you do best so that the city can tell those stories and take you on extremely cool trips like [Texas Music Takeover]”

He also announced that the Texas Music Office has started a certification and branding program called the Music-Friendly Communities Initiative.

“We think it will leave a lasting mark on the Texas music industry landscape,” Anthony said. “It will not only do that, but it will help cities do a better job of telling that story.”

“We want to create an opportunity and a forum for understanding that market and translation of industry concerns so that they can be addressed. And then we want to continue to create opportunities for those folks within that city.”

Accepting the certificate that shows the city’s new designation as a music-friendly community, Jameson said, “We don’t pretend to be Austin, we don’t pretend to be Nashville, we are Fort Worth. We are music-friendly not because we are finished but because we are just getting started and we are continuing to tell this story.”

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