DIY Venue Spotlight: 1919 Hemphill

ALARM’s ongoing series exploring the best grassroots, non-traditional music venues

Name: 1919 Hemphill
1919 Hemphill, Fort Worth, TX 76109
Booking contact:
Q&A With: Al, The loudmouth, website, and flyer guy and Rick, the event coordinator, guy to ask about 1919, and bad communicator.

What type of bands do you book?
Al: All kinds, but mostly DIY punk and hardcore bands.

Why did you want to open a DIY venue?
Al: Well, we didn’t, but this guy Cri did. He wanted to have a DIY safe space for artists, musicians, activists — basically anyone — to call home.

What kind of crowd do you attract?
Al: Depends on the show, but mostly young people, punks, and non-punks.

How has the venue been an attribute to a community?
Rick: We are located in a kind of poor area, and we allow people to wander in and watch shows if they want. Sometimes they are drunk and rowdy and we have to tell them to leave.

We also have a room full of donated clothes and household items. People will sometimes drop donations for people outside 1919 when we’re closed and it will be gone before we get there.

I was told by a neighbor once that somebody dropped off like a hundred cans of food outside of our space. It was picked through and cleaned out in less than an hour. Our neighbors (community) love us.

Have you been met with any challenges running a DIY venue?
Rick: Yes. People straight up not giving shit seems to be the main challenge. Trying to convince people that it’s not just another club is kind of hard.

Al: I think it’s people thinking that we’re something that we aren’t. We get complaints from certain aspects of the punk community that get angry at us for sticking to our ideals (i.e. DIY, no drinking or smoking at shows, not tolerating intolerance, etc.). We occasionally get accused of being PC fascists or “crusty hippies,” and neither of those things are even close to true.

Aside from live music, do you host any other events or programs in your space?
Rick: We have a lot of different on-the-road acts come through. We have also hosted a freak show, a play, several film fests, some art shows, and fun skill shares / workshops.

Are there any significant musical acts or artists that have drawn a crowd or have had a significant performance?
Al: This Bike is a Pipebomb, The Bananas, An Albatross, Best Fwends, Japanther, Hot Cross, Brickfight, Matt & Kim and Iron Lung.

Rick: Kimya Dawson, Blueberry Fist, O’ Pioneers, Boogdish, Can Kickers, World/Inferno Friendship Society, Surrender and Ooga Booga.

Do you have a favorite anecdote regarding your venue?
Al: Keith Morris talks a lot about boring stuff.

Rick: The night that someone went into our parking lot and smashed a bunch of people’s windshields for no reason. Wait, that wasn’t funny at all!

Do you plan on expanding or modifying your venue in the future?
Al: Right now we’re in the process of trying to get more diverse events going on. Eventually, we’ll fix the leaks too.

What advice could you give to those who are interested in opening their own venue?
Al: Don’t, unless you have a person that’s ready to spend about 15-20 nights out of the month doing stuff related to the venue. Also, if you are going to let people drink, then you are up for a real challenge.

Rick: Don’t let anybody tell you how you should be doing things, and don’t let the lack of interest get you down. It took five years for people to start going to shows that I set up.

What events do you have coming up?
Check out this link.

1919 Hemphill:

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