Patrick Pombuena described the Arlington music scene as an inclusive environment but with a “small town type of feel.” All the local bands are friends with each other and often collaborate and support each other.
“It’s a relatively younger and newer scene,” the local musician said. “Everyone that’s a part of it is definitely very eager to push forward our art and our reach and our popularity.”
A new way Pombuena and other artists like him are able to expand their platform is through the upcoming Ramblin’ Roads Music Festival, which will run Oct. 1-3.
Maggie Campbell, president and CEO of the Downtown Arlington Management Corporation and the festival’s director, said Arlington has wanted a signature festival for a long time.
The city has always offered live music but has wanted to expand for years. So Campbell and other organizers created this festival to take advantage of existing small businesses and highlight local artists.
“Not closing a street and building a bunch of stages that are here today and gone tomorrow, but really celebrating what’s authentically happening here year round,” Campbell said.
People don’t often think of Arlington as a hub for live concerts, but the city offers a variety of shows on a weekly basis.
The Levitt Pavilion, an outdoor music venue in Downtown Arlington and a pillar of the local music scene, hosts 50 free concerts per year. Other venues, such as Texas Live!, Arlington Music Hall and several bars and restaurants also offer live music shows on weekly bases.
Letatia Teykl, Levitt Pavilion executive director, said the Levitt has long partnered with Downtown Arlington Management Corporation to help cultivate local business and growth, so becoming a venue partner with the festival was a natural decision.
If you go
When: Oct. 1-3
Where: Arlington, Texas
Single-day general admission: $45
Three-day general admission: $100
Three-day VIP pass: $250
Gospel brunch: $100
Friday: Bobby Pulido with Monica Saldivar
Sunday: La Sonora Dinamita with Grupo Control and Grupo Ferozz
“Because it was about music and celebrating music in Arlington and all the different venues that provide entertainment, we thought it was a perfect match for what we do,” Teykl said.
Music is a staple of the city’s culture. In 2020, Arlington was named a “music friendly community.” The designation, which comes from the Governor’s Office, provides Texas communities with a network for fostering music industry development and certifies that those communities are serious about attracting and developing music industry growth.
This festival adds an “extra layer” to what’s already growing in Arlington, Teykl said. It opened the door to wider communication about what’s happening with local artists.
After the collaboration and conversation involved with planning and putting on the festival, the next step will be to make sure the conversation of collaboration continues in the city.
“For us, it’s getting the word out that we’re there,” Teykl said. “We provide these 50 free shows, and we bring in national, regional and local talent.”
Each venue partner booked artists to perform on their own stages. Other genres offered by the Levitt will include Americano and jazz. Although the Levitt booked a few artists who have performed on their stage before, it also decided to bring in bigger artists like country singer William Green Clark and Tejano artist Bobby Pulido.
Pombuena, an Arlington native, said he’s never seen anything like this festival in the city before so it’s exciting to be a part of the growth.
Although Arlington’s music scene isn’t as big as Dallas’ or Fort Worth’s, the smaller hub of creativity allows small, local artists like Pombuena to hone their skills and make a name for themselves. Pombuena said Dallas is so saturated with talent that it’s easy for lesser known artists like him to be outshone.
“It’s almost impossible to stand out unless you’re like really, really, really good because they’ve got people from everywhere in Dallas,” he said. “They’ve got Grammy winners.”
The smaller scene in Arlington provides the perfect opportunity for artists like Pombuena to take the spotlight. When he heard about the festival, he automatically said, “yes.”
The three-day festival will offer 60 concerts across 18 different venues in the downtown and entertainment districts.
Although the focus of the event from the beginning was always live music, venue organizers knew they wanted to create some “community facing aspects,” Campbell said. That’s why there will also be a classic car show, urban artisan market, Gospel brunch and youth voice competition.
The festival also accomplishes another longtime city goal of demonstrating the synergy between downtown and the entertainment district, Campbell said. While Arlington is known for the Dallas Cowboys AT&T Stadium, Globe Life Park and Six Flags over Texas — all of which are housed in the entertainment district — the lesser known downtown area also offers an array of entertainment options. And the two districts are not just competitors but often collaborators.
Over the past decade, Downtown Arlington has grown and transformed. New investments and restaurants, the music friendly designation and UT-Arlington’s Texas Tier One status all show the city’s thriving downtown culture. It’s time for Arlington to go to the next level, Campbell said, and this festival will help achieve that level.
Texas is known for an array of music festivals, but Arlington isn’t trying to compete with those. Ramblin’ Roads will open the same weekend as the first weekend of ACL Festival, but Campbell said they’re not concerned with “keeping up.”
“We’re trying to celebrate what’s authentically unique to Arlington,” she said. “This live music environment that’s here, it’s not something we’re fabricating on one weekend — it’s here. This is just shining a light on it.”
“We’re trying to celebrate what’s authentically unique to Arlington. This live music environment that’s here, it’s not something we’re fabricating on one weekend — it’s here.Maggie Campbell, Ramblin’ Roads Music Festival director
Ramblin’ Roads isn’t trying to be ACL, and that’s OK, Campbell said. The new festival’s lineup may not include any of the biggest or most popular names in the music industry, like Megan Thee Stallion, but it’ll showcase a diverse set of artists from both local and national levels.
So many national artists have been discovered right on the stages of Downtown Arlington, Campbell said. For example, country artists Blake Shelton and Marren Morris and acapella group Pentatonix all got their starts in the city.
Pombuena is looking forward to the unique opportunity to perform alongside bigger names without detracting from the spotlight on local artists.
“This is our chance as a city and community to prove ourselves to the rest of the music scenes here in America that Arlington is definitely a destination for touring bands and bigger names,” he said. “It’ll grow our reach and then that’ll open a whole lot more opportunities for the people around here locally.”
In the meantime, Pombuena said he’s excited to just get on stage and do what he loves: create music.
Fort Worth Report fellow Cecilia Lenzen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.