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Texas Nights plans to bring new music into Waco's culture

Nov. 29, 2005

by ALEXIS CARTWRIGHT, reporter

With the night sky as its ceiling, live music filtering throughout and an open fire for listeners to sit around, it truly is a "Texas night" at an alumnus's venture into Waco's music scene.

Justin Jimenez, a 2005 graduate, and his partner Roger Salinas have taken steps in improving the concert scene in Waco by opening a live music venue called Texas Nights.

What was once a small Mexican food restaurant and outdoor garden area between 8th and Clay is now a "one-of-a-kind music venue not only in and around Waco, but also throughout the entire central Texas area," Jimenez said.

Texas Nights has been open six months and has featured musicians such as Brandon Rhyder, Stoney Larue and Ryan Turner, as well as various local artists.

The inspiration for the venue is simple.

"Waco has become real routine," Jimenez said. "Throughout my college career, I'd travel to different college towns just to hear some good live music that couldn't be found anywhere in Waco."

Jimenez expressed his interest in having artists travel to Waco instead of students having to travel out of town.

"We want to bring artists who have crowds follow them all over Texas," Jimenez said. He said their purpose is to give Baylor and the Waco community a place to go for popular live music.

Texas Nights is an outdoor venue, which specializes in Texas country and rock with a touch of blues.

"It's about time a venue like Texas Nights came to Waco," Friendswood junior Ashley Decuir said. "I've been to venues all around Texas, and Texas Nights has come to be one of my favorites. I love the music, the laid-back atmosphere and the feeling of not really being at a concert, but more like you're sitting on a back porch with your friends."

Texas Nights management chooses its featured musicians several different ways.

Jimenez and Salinas check out Web sites of other college towns and the names of the musicians who play there.

They also like to ask their customers what they think about the current line-up and what type of music or what artists they'd like to see come through town.

"The outdoor environment is very inviting," Stratford senior Sid Resendes said. "Even when it's cold outside, it's nice to snuggle up by the fire pits. I think it gives people who aren't familiar with Texas music a good stage and venue to be introduced to this genre of music."

Fraternities and other organizations frequently rent the venue for social functions, such as dances or dinners.

"During regular business hours someone can rent out either the garden or the indoor restaurant/bar area -- not both at the same time, so customers can still come by and enjoy Texas Nights without having to be turned away because there is a private party being held," Jimenez said.

He also said that when the venue is closed, the outside and inside are available for rent together with services such as catering and entertainment booking.

Despite its recent opening, Texas Nights co-owners still have a vision of where they want to see the business in the future.

"The ultimate goal is to make Waco a place that musicians can call home and give them a place where they want to play when they drive through town," Jimenez said. "There have been a few big name artists, like Pat Green and Wade Bowen, who come out of Waco, but seldom make it back to give Waco fans the opportunity to see where they're headed in their careers."