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Inaugural Nomad Music Festival spotlights San Antonio, national artists

Jeremy Kingg performs at the inaugural Nomad Music Festival at La Zona.
Jiawen Chen
for Texas Public Radio
Jeremy Kingg performs at the inaugural Nomad Music Festival at La Zona.

Local musicians were center-stage on Saturday evening at La Zona, the site of the first ever Nomad Music Festival. Vendors lined the cozy space at 327 W. Commerce St., leading audience members towards the stage. Performances began at 4:30 p.m. and lasted into the night, providing entertainment to a substantial crowd despite the heat.

The festival was organized by Joshua Patino, who runs Life’s Sweet Co., a mobile shop on wheels that sells clothing and artwork. The idea for the musical festival came from Patino’s project, the Nomad Music Sessions, where he records local artists playing in front of his shop and uploads them online.

As nine different artists performed on stage, attendees were able to purchase foods like vegan tacos and paletas and browse art and jewelry from local vendors. The van that houses Life’s Sweet Co. was parked in a corner of the festival, selling its usual merchandise and special shirts for the event.

The inaugural Nomad Music Fesitval.
Jiawen Chen
for Texas Public Radio
The inaugural Nomad Music Fesitval.

Though acts like Hotel Ugly and Victor Internet came in from other cities, the festival’s goal was to promote musicians based in San Antonio.

“I like supporting local so I wanted these local artists to have a platform,” Patino said.

One such artist is Jeremy Kingg, who began rapping when he was a kid, connected to music through his church and his dad’s job as a sound engineer. He released a new single earlier this month, and is planning to release an album, as well as a poetry collection, in the fall.

Kingg enjoys playing live shows, and uses each as an opportunity to connect with the audience and share his stories. Though he said he gets nervous before each show, he always winds up wanting to stay on stage longer.

“My music is therapy to me,” Kingg said. “And I believe in the transfer of energy, you know, sharing positive energy between people. That is my message.”

Like Patino, Kingg is eager to support local artists and grow the city’s music scene.

“It means the world to me,” Kingg said. “I feel like our city needs the attention. I think we need to start really coming together and supporting each other, pushing each other as artists.”

The festival also featured local bands like Fool in Utopia and Retro Cowgirl.

Texas Public Radio is supported by contributors to the Arts & Culture News Desk including The Guillermo Nicolas & Jim Foster Art Fund, Patricia Pratchett, and the V.H. McNutt Memorial Foundation.

Fool in Utopia released their second album, Arcadia, on June 10. The band consists of singer and multi-instrumentalist Marc Rodriguez, bassist Ben Castillo and drummer Kendall Lawson.

Rodriguez’ interests are wide-ranging; he’s played the cello since he was a kid and is currently finishing his master’s degree in biochemistry. He started Fool in Utopia with Castillo in 2018, and they began playing with Lawson more recently in their journey to find their current upbeat and lively sound.

“I just think it's really cool to get to connect and get to meet other local artists that we might not have met otherwise and just get to really be a part of the local scene and really integrate ourselves,” Lawson said.

Retro Cowgirl is a local band that blends genres from blues to alternative to Latin, led by frontwoman Lucky Steele. She came to San Antonio from California, but has already taken to the local atmosphere.

“I feel like the music scene here has been just so welcoming to us,” Steele said.

“I just feel so at home here. Even when I don't play the same genres as other people that I’m playing with, I just totally feel accepted and loved by everybody.”

Another unique artist on the lineup was Vermin the Villain, originally from Laredo, who has constructed a distinctive identity for himself. He keeps his face covered on social media and during all performances but still manages to connect with and energize the crowd.

“The biggest thing for me is just being honest and genuine with myself,” he said. “That's basically the mission statement, trying to just do dope stuff.”

His focus is on authenticity, and for him, that takes many forms. He raps, DJs, produces, creates visual art and plays several different instruments. His message to new fans: “You never know what you're going to hear whenever I drop a song.”

Undeniably, Saturday’s performers each brought different sounds and styles to the stage, but they all showed commitment to San Antonio’s music scene. There is clearly a young and enthusiastic audience eager for smaller live performances, and events like the Nomad Music Festival can fulfill that need.

Patino hopes that this festival can continue into the future.

“I'm hoping next year we do it even bigger and just continue from there and grow it and see how it goes,” he said.

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Erika Howlett is the 2022 Summer Arts Intern at Texas Public Radio. She assists with community engagement and produces articles on local arts and culture for TPR’s website.