Imagine Fest unites community through music

San Antonio based band Booty Feet delighting the crowd at Imagine Fest. (photo, Patricio Calvo)

It’s a cool Sunday evening, in a nameless mini mall on Culebra St, and music lovers from across the city gather for a rare live show experience. A local bookstore, hosting local bands, turned from a shop into music festival with live artists inside and vendors outside in the parking lot. Don Hurd, along with his wife Irma, and saxophone-wielding son Ezra, presented a five-band showcase for all ages that would be their day one of seven days of live music .

On Sunday, March 11, Imagine Books and Records kicked off its third annual Imagine Fest. The locally owned mom and pop shop has been a unique and unusual enterprise that has made its mission to not only sells books, but provide a kind judgment-free venue for local San Antonio musicians. Manning the door, store owner Don Hurd stood in his slacks, black turtleneck, and brown blazer. He’s a charismatic entity who cares about his community, books, and music.

“We’ve been a venue for six years. My son and I, who helps run the venue, kept talking about that we wanted to do a festival of some sorts.” Hurd stated. “I thought, ‘you know what? If we do it, let’s just do it like a marathon.’ Seven days in a row, five or six bands a night, day after day.”

The festival begins at the parking spots in front of the bookstore. Here festival goers could purchase custom made crystal jewelry, pieces crafted by local San Antonio artists, and even White Elephant coffee grounds from Mexico. Inside the shop, shelves remained filled with books and vinyl records that people continuously browsed through in between bands setting up and breaking down.

The 56-year-old Hurd said he endeavors to host the musical marathon for the community. “As a commercial enterprise, we also want to be a member of our community. We want to provide a safe space,” Hurd said. “A space that fosters creativity, that encourages people to come together and have a good time.”

The first night of the festival five local groups, True Indigo, Stereofiend, Harvey McLaughlin, Booty Feet, and Lonely Horse captivated a tightly-pressed crowd from post-modern indie groove, to melo hip hop beats, and loud deafening blues. A wide spectrum of sound that kept fans entranced from 8 p.m. until midnight. Finding a more intimate experience between audience and performer would be difficult.

“It’s a different environment from a regular bar show. People are here generally for the music not just to drink. It definitely has a more intimate feel.” Luke Mitchell, drummer and member of Booty Feet remarked.  

This was the band’s first time playing at Imagine Fest and first time playing at Imagine books and records. Noah Escamilla has been a musician for the majority of his life and has been a member of Booty Feet for the last two years. The 23-year-old lead singer and guitarist had only positive words for his experience on Culebra Street.

“People are here singing our songs and our lyrics. You can’t really ask for more than that you know,” Escamilla said.

Imagine Fest runs through March 17 and will include a multitude of music for a  $7 cover fee paid at the door. Musicians from as far as Australia, Los Angeles, and Chicago will be showcasing their original music for all to experience: A live music festival, inside a bookstore, tucked away in a corner of San Antonio.