The Grackle

Observations, Reflections and Miscellany from the Wacoan

Visit Waco Block Party

Upcoming Celebration Combines Music, Movies, Podcasts and Community

5 months ago

By Skylla Mumana

Grab your friends, loved ones, dogs and everyone in between, because Feb. 29–Mar. 2, Waco will be getting its first-ever block party.

Waco Block Party is a free, three-day community celebration that will feature numerous events and activities for the public to enjoy. This venture is the brainchild of three Waco community giants: Southern Roots Brewery, Rogue Media Network and Waco Independent Film Festival.

Founded in 2018, Southern Roots Brewery is a family-owned and operated craft brewing company that offers a unique lineup of homemade beers, as well as other alcoholic beverages and food options. Throughout its time in Waco, Southern Roots has hosted numerous community events, such as the Back to School Teacher’s Bash, trivia nights and, most notably, their Battle of the Bands event that was held last year in collaboration with Rogue Media and Texas Music Cafe. Kaelin Evans, Events Manager and Coordinator for Southern Roots Brewery, notes that the idea of Waco Block Party grew out of the initial success of Battle of the Bands.

“We did the Battle of the Bands last year with Rogue Media and Texas Music Cafe. It was just kind of an off-the-cuff idea to have music that wasn’t so centrally focused on country because that’s very prominent down here,” Evans said. “So, the idea was ‘Let’s have a battle of the bands, pull rock music in and see where it goes.’ We had such a positive response that it expanded out into Waco Block Party.”

With a celebration of this size, mixing different forms of media was key to creating a unique event that could attract both in-town and out-of-town crowds. So, on that note, head producer Mike Hamilton and owner Cory Dickman from Rogue Media and Waco Independent Film Festival co-founder Louis Hunter joined in to collaborate. According to Dickman, the group wanted to create a space that would help promote local businesses, celebrate the diverse range of talent within central Texas and encourage unity amongst the Waco community.

“I think you have pockets of people that try to do their own thing. Waco is notorious for re-doing the wheel, so instead of us trying to do something and Louis doing a second festival or Kaelin doing her own thing, we figured let’s just all do this together. One big weekend. Pull all of our resources, manpower, ideas, collaborations, networking and put it all together,” Dickman said.

Mike Hamilton and Cory Dickman of Rogue Media

The event will feature live music, films, live podcasts and a craft and food truck market. The live music section will feature a mix of local Texas performers such as The Bill and Phil Show and The Gordon Collier Band. Alongside that, there will also be a Battle of the Bands portion, where performers will go head-to-head in a musical competition for an opportunity to open up for Waco Block Party headliner, Don Louis, an East Texas musician who has amassed over 15 million streams on Spotify alone.

The curated film portion is organized by Waco Independent Film Festival, formally known as Deep in The Heart Film Festival. This section will feature documentaries, such as the film Jimmie and Stevie Ray Vaughan, Brothers in Blues, which tells the story of the Vaughn brothers who rose from humble beginnings to become well-known Rock legends. Alongside that, the 254 Filmmaker Showcase will highlight local short films from the community. Hunter hopes that the community will come and interact with each other and create new experiences.

Louis Hunter and Samuel Thomas of Waco Independent Film Festival

“You can stay at home, and you can watch Netflix, or you can watch Hulu or whatever but that’s a very solitary experience,” Hunter said. “There’s nothing like experiencing something as a collective, in a crowd. That’s why when you go to the movies and you feel that big swell of music and you see that hero jump off the screen, it feels so much bigger in a theater than it does at home.”

With over 160+ shows on the air, Rogue Media Network will use some of its current lineup of podcasters for the live podcast section of Waco Block Party, including Mike Hamilton’s own “King of the Hill” podcast BWAAA. Hamilton is most excited to interact with audiences during his live session and hear his theme song live.

“I’m excited about my show,” Hamilton said. “Mine is called BWAAA and it’s a “King of the Hill” podcast. We’re bringing in the band from Austin that does our intro music to play us on, so I think it’s kind of cool.”

Mike Hamilton and Cory Dickman of Rogue Media

Overall, the collective is excited, and feel that this block party will be a great way to show the Waco public and beyond that Waco is a growing city full of opportunity, artistic creation and fun events.

“One of the most difficult ideas to get through is that there are great things to do in Waco,” Hunter said. “So often you hear people say that there’s nothing to do in Waco. Well, no, there’s plenty to do. In fact, there’s multiple things to do on any given day. We have some really great podcasts happening, award-winning beer happening, award-winning festivals happening. Good [things] happens here.”