May 21, 2023
by Mary Browning
This year’s Wildflower Festival kicked off this weekend in Richardson. It consisted of three days full of music, entertainment, and delicious treats. People from all over the metroplex grabbed their families and friends and flocked to the event to enjoy the festivities. Some of the key highlights included local talented artists, major musical entertainers, and a fun children’s area.
When it comes to local talent there were two main competitions for performers. The first competition included local singers/songwriters. Artists go head to head to win the top prize which included $1,000 cash and a 2-day recording package at Audio Dallas Recording Studio. The Al Johnson performing songwriter competition also has a second place prize of $500 cash as well as a People’s Choice award worth $500. This year’s competition was very close! JD Graham took home the 2023 People’s Choice award. Korby Lenker won the overall competition. Runner up was a tie! Two ladies named Lauren Frihauf and Abigayle Kompost both got the second slot. For curious music lovers, Korby’s music can be found at korbylenker.com.
The other competition literally took weeks to finalize a winner. Battle of the Bands encourages local bands to try out and beat other bands for a grand prize. It takes weeks of performances at Six Springs Tavern in Richardson where only the top three will make it onto the main stage and perform at the Wildflower Festival. Winners receive $500 cash, a Saturday night or Sunday set-time at Guitars and Growlers (specific date and time to be determined), a professionally produced video of their qualifier performance, provided by Six Springs, one of the band’s original songs produced, recorded, and mixed by Dallas producer J. Michael Smith in his personal studio, Sunland Sound, as well as a Band Strategy Session with Music Industry Strategy Consultant, Brianna Ruelas. This year’s competition winners was The Fire Frets. As a local band they often play at UTD as a young student band. When asked about what they will do with the winnings, they said that they plan on celebrating. A six member band, the band was the first to play onstage and included two guitarists, a drummer, a keyboard artist, a trumpeter, and of course a singer. Also of note was a very talented vocalist named Allison Conkel from the band AI who won the vocal award Best Vocalist. The Fire Frets also won the People’s Choice award. Last but certainly not least was Attica Uprising who won for best drummer. Their drummer was incredible, and it was an excellent performance. All three bands should feel pride in placing in the top three spots.
The festival also had professional artists. The lineup on the main stage included incredible artists such as The Clifffs, Jimmy Vaughan, The Romantics, Little River Band, and the Saturday night star Joan Jett and The Blackhearts. With five stages and over 42 different musical artists and talent, there was something for just about everyone. Saturday is the main event day. People from all over the metroplex grabbed their folding chairs and flocked to see the mainstage artists. They were not disappointed. Some people got to the lawn in front of the stage as early as noon to secure their spot to see the artists up close. It is incredible how inexpensive this festival is for the talent that is procured.
One of the highlights of the festival included the CLIFFFS who all wore their signature third F shirts. As a punk band, they appealed to the younger crowd who were jumping up and down, dancing as they played. Being such a cool band they gave every single person in the group dancing a band shirt, thrilling the audience. Playing at 4 in the afternoon in the middle of the day, they had a good crowd draw and earned themselves a few new fans.
Next up was the local favorite The Romantics. As an 80’s band, they appeal to all of the Gen X-ers who sang along to their chart topping songs “Talking In Your Sleep” with over 45 million views since 2013 on youtube and “What I Like About You“. Local fans flocked to their performance and when Wally is on stage he knows how to command a crowd. This season debuted a change in the drummer. Clem Burke previously performed with the band Blondie. He replaced Brad Elvis. It was indeed a powerful performance.
The Little River Band was up next. As a 70’s band from Australia, they came a long way to throw back the crowd to the period of time when everyone was wearing Bell Bottoms and halter tops. Like a spring of time, they swept across the crowd claiming massive cheers and applause with their song Lady.
As the crowd continued to gather, the people at the front were feeling the pressure. Many started getting almost squished as the last artist began preparing to take the stage. Onstage last was the Headliner of the festival, Joan Jett.
Where some artists decline over time, Joan Jett does not disappoint. A fearless performer, she had the crowd going absolutely crazy! There was scarcely a spot to sit, stand, or even really breathe whilst she was on stage. A top notch performer, she doesn’t quit and had the crowd singing and shouting for an unforgettable half hour. Anyone who missed this concert is going to kick themselves. It was bar none the best performance at the entire festival. When this tiny, beautiful woman takes the stage, she is incredible! A true star who has not changed or dampened with time. The set list included fan favorites such as Cherry Bomb, Do You Wanna Touch Me, I Hate Myself for Loving You and one of her most well known tunes I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll. It is a wonder by this writer, why there have not been any newer albums after the last single she released in 2013 entitled Any Weather. Make more music, Joan! North Texas definitely made a statement last night, and that statement said we love and want more Joan Jett.
Other activities at the event featured a local charity auction, local vendors selling their wares, as well as a nicely sized children’s area. The Art Guitar Auction featured several local artists who donated authentic guitars to benefit the Network of Community Ministries, as well as the RISD Fine Arts Programs. Children were also not left out. There was a rock climbing wall, a pirate ship, some robotic dinosaurs, as well as some acrobats and scary creatures (courtesy of the Dark Hour Haunted House in Plano). For those who are not into concerts, there is still plenty to see and do and of course, eat.
This year’s festival was amazing. It included top talent, local performers, contests, as well as lots to see and do. It will be very hard to top this year’s festival. This writer wonders what could possibly be planned for 2024.