9 Important People You Might Have Seen Around Deep Ellum

One of the beautiful things about Deep Ellum, the once again lively arts district of Dallas, is all the different people it brings together. In one night I will run into so many different friends from all different scenes and somehow we all know eachother. One thing I have noticed lately though, is that it’s easy to see the same people around a lot but not really know who they are or what they do. This inspired me to take a moment to write about 9 important people that you might have seen around Deep Ellum that I definitely think you should know.

JOHN STEWART // Twitter: @_mixgod
I only recently met John when I came out to one of his All / Everything Parties this summer. These parties pick an artist, label, or artists to showcase for the night such as Jay Z, Gucci Mane, Drake, Kanye, etc. and the club reaches capacity every time. Aside from this, the MIXGOD as some know him, has audio credits for working with everyone from Kanye West to John Legend. Although the early stages in our friendship, I probably speak with John on a daily basis these days and have enlisted him to put together a hip-hop stage for So What?! Fall Edition, with more plans in the works!

BLUE, THE MISFIT. // Twitter: @BlueTheMisfit
I first met Blue when Orlando, my partner in crime with Third String Productions and So What?! Music Festival, booked him for some hip-hop shows we were doing. Although I wouldn’t call us personal friends, I have been a fan of what he has been up to for years and chances are you’ve seen him around Dallas. He recently sold out his visual listening party for his new album Perfect Night, For A Funeral. If you missed it, you can catch the recap here.

SAM LAO // Twitter: @THE_SamLao
Another talented Dallas artist that to most needs no introduction, is Sam Lao. I first caught live at Index Festival in 2014 inside The Prophet Bar. I was actually cutting through to see a band at The Door but ended up missing them because I couldn’t stop watching Sam. Her high energy set had my full attention and when you’re hearing and seeing someone for the very first time, there’s just a feeling you can’t explain. On top of being an extremely talented artist, Sam is also very vocal on her social media channels about social issues, using her platform to encourage change. Her latest song, Pineapple, which you can catch right here, is an anti-catcalling anthem that has gained national attention.

BRI CONRADO aka CLOVER THE GIRL // Twitter: @cloverthegirl
Bri was an intern for us at Third String Productions and then went on to help us run our festival So What?! Music Festival and has always been around to help when we needed her. Beyond that she has been an incredible friend. But what she showed me one trip out to visit in Los Angeles blew my mind. I had no idea Bri was coming out to LA to record music. She asked if she could put some songs she did on and from the first note to the last note I had chills. I couldn’t believe someone who was volunteering her time and essentially so selflessly there for us always has this incredible talent hidden away. I definitely encourage you to check out her new video “Detox” on her YouTube.

ELIZABETH ASHLEY WHITE // Twitter: @thrashley__
I believe I technically met Ashley when we had a show in College Station and her boyfriend’s band performed, but since I don’t really remember I will just say I met her as “the best thing that has happened to our company in a long time.” With me moving to California and Orlando slammed with more shows than ever before in multiple Texas markets, he needed someone that could dive right in and crush it for us, this is Ashley. She has quickly become such an essential member of our team, one of the hardest working people I’ve ever met, and a real friend who I enjoy having life chats with.

KENDRICK NICHOLSON // Twitter: @xKendrickPaul
There isn’t much Kendrick doesn’t do. You’ve either seen him onstage performing, behind the scenes working his ass off, or running from one venue to the next in Deep Ellum making sure your favorite bands have the best shows. Currently, however, you can catch Kendrick touring the US with his new band, Blindwish. You can check out their music video for 3:am here. Next time you see Kendrick around just say thanks, because the dude is a machine and he helps everything from Prophet Bar shows to main stage bands at So What?! run the best they can.

PETE FREEDMAN // Twitter: @PeteFreedman
Pretty positive Pete was one of the first people with local press that showed interest in what I was doing as a promoter without asking me to buy ads. Infact, he did an entire cover story essentially based around the scene we had going in the suburbs. Although Pete might not originally be as “local” as most of the people I’m mentioning, you would never know. Pete’s love for Deep Ellum and Dallas in general is mostly unrivaled and the website he created based on that, Central Track, is further proof incase you weren’t convinced. Catch him DJing around town or hanging out at the pop-punk show.

ALLI SCHLOEMAN // Twitter: @perkuprightmeow
I have no idea when I officially met Alli since most of our hangouts involve too many shots and loud music, but I do remember that our true bonding happened last Fall at Top 8 Tuesday (our once a month trip down memory lane where everyone’s old profile songs get played and we all miss the days where checking our MySpace was the most responsibility we had). I remember sitting at BuzzBrews not even talking as we both worked away at our festivals like true millennials. Alli is the boss lady over at Highland Concerts which is responsible for Lights All Night, one of my favorite events of the year. She’s one of the hardest working and most ambitious people I know.

GAVIN MULLOY // Twitter: @theGAVER 
Last but not least, the man, the myth, the legend of Deep Ellum… Gavin. If you go out in Deep Ellum and you don’t run into Gavin, you probably didn’t have a good night. Gavin seems to be the life of the party everywhere and somewhere between the mayor and court jester of Deep Ellum. I met Gavin years ago when he was working with Granada Theater, but the recent years have found our hero located right in the hear of Deep Ellum at Trees and The Bomb Factory. One day Gavin and I are going to book Blink 182 together and it will be the best day ever. Make sure you don’t miss it!

SIDENOTE: Writing this not only made me miss Deep Ellum a ton (I am currently laying in bed in Los Angeles hopped up on Cold Brew and watching Seinfeld), but it made me realize there are way more than 9 people I need to write about, so stay tuned for the next edition coming soon!

Keep up with me on Twitter @mikeziemer

MUST TRY Food in Deep Ellum During So What?! Music Festival

Incase you weren’t already aware, the Fall version of So What?! Music Festival will be taking place in the arts district of Dallas known as Deep Ellum on October 21st – 23rd. Deep Ellum is a lively mix of concert venues, bars, and amazing restaurants. Since those attending the festival will be spending three days in the heart of Deep Ellum, I wanted to share some of my favorite places to grab food that are within the area the festival will be taking place. I have them categorized by type of food! Hope to catch you all at the festival and at these great restaurants. You WILL have in and out abilities to leave venues, grab food, and go back to the venues!

Breakfast Food

Buzzbrews, located in the middle of Deep Ellum, is open 24 hours and offers breakfast all 24 of those hours. Between their amazing food options, unlimited coffee bar, and actual bar, Buzzbrews is not only a great breakfast spot, but a great post-show late night spot. I personally go for the Amigas or the Californication, but all their menu items have been proven to be great. Buzzbrews is also very Vegan / Vegetarian friendly. Another great option for both breakfast and late night dining is Cafe Brazil! Cafe Brazil also has a lot of Vegan / Vegetarian friendly options and an unlimited refill coffee bar!


Texas is obviously known for it’s BBQ and Deep Ellum is no exception to this. Most notably is Pecan Lodge BBQ right in the middle of Deep Ellum. Pecan Lodge usually has a long line but is worth the wait! Also in Deep Ellum, you can find Baker’s Ribs. Both are excellent choices!



There is a constant battle in Deep Ellum over who has the best pizza. There is the more upscale Cane Rosso, the famous Zini’s Pizza located next to Trees, the newer Stone Deck Pizza, and my personal favorite: Serious Pizza, which serves the biggest slices in Deep Ellum! With three days of music, you can certainly try all of them!


And now… on to my personal favorite… Mexican Food! Deep Ellum has several options for this as well. Pepe’s & Mito’s Mexican Cafe is our team’s favorite spot to relax, have a few drinks, and eat some food. However, for those in a bit more of a hurry, there is a Fuzzy’s Taco Shop as well, right next to Three Links and across from Trees! This is another excellent choice to grab a quick bite between bands!


I guess we cannot forget my favorite sushi spot in Dallas, which just so happens to be located right in Deep Ellum, Deep Sushi! Deep Sushi is THE BEST! I have never tried a roll I didn’t like there. Definitely make sure you try to Deep Sushi Edamame, you won’t regret it! Also, if you go, please invite me.


The competition over burgers in Dallas is about as fierce as the competition over pizza places. Stackhouse Burger, Angry Dog, and Twisted Root are all very close for the best burger in Dallas. Angry Dog has many other food options such as hot dogs, wings, salads, and sandwiches. Stackhouse and Twisted Root both have many different specialty burgers. For a quick burger between bands, I recommend walking over to Twisted Root!


For the cajun food lover, we recommend The Free Man.
For the ramen lover, we recommend Tanoshii Ramen.

Sign up for our new email list

I will be sending out blog posts directly via our email list for those that want to subscribe. This is an awesome way to get music news, features on other music industry people, concert updates, and much more. It’s also a chance to reply and directly connect with me about anything I have posted. It’s much easier and more personal than moderating a full on blog.

You can sign up for the social media and email list right here!

Third String Records Opportunity

Los Angeles / Dallas based independent record label Third String Records is looking to grow it’s team. If you are interested in applying or receiving more information, please read ALL of the below before sending an email.

Third String Records, home to Assuming We Survive, Dear You, Desires, The Greenery, Idle Lives, Mariner, Take It Back!, Will Deely, and Words Like Daggers, is a small independent record label that builds partnerships with our bands and their teams to help further their careers and take them to the next level. Because of the owner of Third String Records is also the owner of Third String Productions and So What?! Music Festival, our bands are given an even larger platform via shows, tours, and festivals to gain a fanbase. All releases are also promoted through these social media channels as they are brand partners.

As we approach the July release of new new Desires EP and the August release of the new Idle Lives EP, it’s becoming more and more clear that we need to start building a team.

We are looking for the below positions to be filled. It’s important to note two things: First, your location is not important in our decision. All of these tasks can be performed from your home, as long as you are able to be reached via email, phone, or text when needed as well as available for weekly team conference calls. Second, currently all positions are unpaid, even the owner of the company is not being paid at this time. Instead, we are offering people a chance to gain industry experience, get in with our label at the ground level, and once it’s become clear a team member is going to be a permanent member of the team, they will be give a small percentage of ownership in the company, much like a stock option, as their compensation.

Of course we do eventually plan to be a fully successful label with a paid staff receiving salaries, benefits, etc., but for the time being, our dedication to saving all funds to reuse on new artists and new releases is our priority.

Obviously this isn’t an opportunity just anyone can do, totally understandable if you don’t have free time or the ability. There will be plenty of other opportunities with our companies as well as others, for you to work in music.

Ideal candidates will already have some level of industry experience and knowledge of the field they are applying for, as well as another part time or full time job so money isn’t an immediate issue.

Available team positions
Director of Operations
This person will be responsible for handling all releases from our artists, making sure pre-orders are properly set up, handling reports from all digital and physical retail stores, etc. 

Director of Marketing
This person will be responsible for creating and implementing strategic marketing plans to ensure our releases reach the largest possible audience as well as overall marketing strategy for the label and all artists. Creating brand loyalty is also very important.

Director of Publicity
This person will be our in-house publicist in charge of working on features for our releases, press coverage, album reviews, interviews, brand partnerships, etc. This person will also be responsible for working together with any outside PR companies hired for our larger campaigns. 

Social Media Manager
This person will be responsible for keeping our social media channels active and interactive as well as growing them organically through creative content and creating brand loyalty.


Some information about So What?! Music Festival

With So What?! Music Festival now less than a week away, I wanted to emphasize some important things for all of you that plan to attend. These range from tickets to your safety, so it might me worth your time to read.

DO NOT buy tickets from StubHub or any other ticketing that isn’t Ticketfly for GA tickets, Soundrink for VIP tickets or GetStreetTeam for Street Team tickets. Other sites will try to over charge you and make you believe our event is sold out. The venue can hold 10,000 attendees per day and will not be sold out.

In the event that you do not want to buy online, you can purchase a physical ticket from a local band or simply walk up day of show and purchase one at our box office. All day. Both Saturday and Sunday.

Currently, the forecast calls for some clouds but mostly sunshine. In the event that this changes, this IS a rain or shine event. The only time anything would be postponed, delayed, or cancelled is high winds, tornados, thunderstorms, anything that could potentially endanger the artists playing or any of you attending. Again, the weather forecast does not show risk for any of these at the time. Weather is always subject to change, but it’s looking like *knock on wood* a great weekend for an outdoor festival.

I have posted this before and I will post it again, the safety of all our attendees and their ability to have a good time in an environment they feel safe in is our number one priority. A lot of people have been sharing articles about harassment in the music industry. These articles aren’t just assumptions, wild accusations, or cries for attention, these articles are real struggles that women go through working in the music industry. Does every woman experience the same things? No. Is every guy in the music industry a scumbag? Absolutely not. Is every male at a music festival out to grope you and harass you if you are a girl / woman? No. But the reality is that there is a lot of sexual harassment that occurs not just in our industry, but all industries. On top of this, there is the constant battle girls / women have of being scared to come forward or scared to lose their job or career. We as men can sit back and be like, “man that really sucks, I would never do that, I hope that never happens to anyone I know.” or we can try to do something about it. While we will never understand the uncomfortable feeling a young girl or woman experiences and the adversity they face, we can take steps to change it.

So What Music Festival is coming up this week and I want every female attending to know if they are uncomfortable or are feeling harassed by anyone in attendance, anyone working the event, or anyone performing at the event, they may contact anyone one my team, or text my phone 214-697-8857 and let me know if it’s urgent and you don’t want to speak to security or police.

To all the boys / men attending the festival, please help us make this event welcoming to everyone. Don’t be the creepy guy that fondles a girl when she crowd surfs, don’t be the guy that grabs or touches someone that doesn’t want it, etc. If you see something, say something. We have zero tolerance for this kind of behavior.

Our festival is about bringing people together and not dividing anyone, if you have any issues please let me know. You can message me, text me, reach out to someone on our team, whatever you need to do.

If you have any further questions please visit our website and if you still have additional questions, email me: mike@thirdstringfestivals.com


Although I am happy with ALL of the bands we booked on this year’s So What?! Music Festival, I wanted to share my personal favorites that you may not have already heard of and the bands you can catch me watching on both days! You should check out all the ones you haven’t already listened to in advance so you can get as excited as I am! Obviously I am extremely stoked for our headliners, but I don’t want these awesome bands to get overlooked on your schedules! I picked 10 bands I truly love and do not personally represent or work with.

– Citizen
– Knuckle Puck
– Turnover
– Have Mercy
– 7 Minutes In Heaven
– Milk Teeth
– Sorority Noise
– Seaway
– Waterparks
– The News Can Wait

– The Word Alive
– Being As An Ocean
– Stray From The Path
– A Lot Like Birds
– Capsize
– Ghost Key
– Hazing
– Little Envy
– Silent Planet

A Look Inside A Promoter’s Life

I know it’s last minute, but I wanted to launch a contest for those of you out there that are already getting involved in working on the business side of music. Whether you’re on a street team, online team, or running your own shows already, I wanted to do a contest for one of you to come to Dallas, TX for So What?! Music Festival and shadow me for the weekend. You would basically be my assistant for the duration of the festival and get a really solid inside look at the beauty and chaos of running an event like ours. Last year we did a contest like this for photographers, so this year I want to do it for someone that is already working towards being a promoter. Who knows, maybe we will love you so much that you’ll end up working with our team!

+ Must be 18 years or older
+ Must be able to come to Dallas, TX from Tuesday March 15th – Monday March 21st.
+ Must have some level of music industry experience (even if it’s just being on a street team or working at a venue)

The Winner Will Receive
+ Plane ticket to Dallas (if needed)
+ Hotel in Dallas (if needed)
+ All Access festival pass to shadow me for duration of the festival
+ Meals covered during the festival

How to Enter
Send an essay to mike@thirdstringfestivals.com including the following
+ Who You Are
+ What You Already Do or Have Done With Music
+ Why You Want To Work In Music
+ Why You Want This Opportunity
+ Anything else you want to add


Promoter’s Life EP 5: Periscope Party

Promoter’s Life EP 5 Periscope Party from A Promoter’s Life on Vimeo.

We decided it would be a fun time to get drunk with our friends and get on Periscope and answer questions from people about So What?! Music Festival, Third String Productions, working in music, etc. Check the video!

Underrated and ignored… but so what?!

For those of you that are not yet familiar with me, my name is Mike Ziemer and I am a concert promoter. I started promoting concerts when I was a senior in high school and have continued doing so for 12 years now. I am now 30 years old, I put on two festivals in Dallas called So What?! Music Festival (formerly known as South By So What?!) and Unsilent Night Music Festival. On top of that I also run a concert production company called Third String Productions and put on concerts in Arizona, California, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas. I also run a management company and a small independent record label. In April of 2015, I moved to Los Angeles with my best friend to further expand my business. Sounds impressive right? Apparently not.

Despite the fact that 2016 is the 9th year of our flagship festival, So What?! Music Festival, which has grown from drawing 2800 people our first year in a community center in the suburbs to drawing as many as 18,000 people over a weekend inside of a baseball stadium, we are largely underrated and ignored by most major press outlets (even in our own part of the music scene), most sponsors, and even some members of the music industry. Maybe they just don’t “get it” though. Let me correct some common misconceptions…

We often hear from press and brands (potential sponsors) that our event is too regional or too local. Looking over our ticket sales SO FAR for 2016, we have sold tickets in 30+ cities and provinces inside of 10+ different countries that are not The United States. These countries include Australia, Japan, New Zealand, The United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Singapore, and more. Inside of the US, we have sold tickets in ALL 50 states and the territory of Puerto Rico. Not bad right? Seems our small show has become an actual destination event.

We often hear that our demographic is “too young.” This confuses me because as far as I have ALWAYS been taught through marketing, branding, and even school, the most popular and targeted age group is 18-34. The majority of our attendees fall into this category. In fact, in past years, we have sold more alcohol at our event to 21+ attendees than any other event the ball park hosts all year long.

We often hear that we don’t have any “major” headliners. I can agree with that. The bands we have headline our festival usually do tours in rooms from 1500 cap up to 3000 cap. But isn’t that the beauty of it? We draw thousands of people beyond this because of the combination of all the bands we pick. Our mix of young up and coming bands, mid level rising bands, and headliners is what makes it attractive. It’s the same thing with Warped Tour, Bamboozle, Skate & Surf, etc. etc. But even more to my point, we are able to do what we do without any of these major headliners, which is even more of a story to tell.

What people sitting in offices passing on the opportunity to sponsor our event or send someone to do press coverage for it don’t understand is that the hype for our festival is real. At the moment I am writing this, we have had a large enough reach to sell tickets in all of the above mentioned places, and have spent less than $5,000 on marketing so far. Our posts go viral without paying for advertising, our name trends when we do artist takeovers, our computers and phones crashed when Frank Iero did a Twitter takeover for us last year. The reach out our flyer, our posts, anything we do is mind-blowing to me.

I know most of you are sitting here reading this thinking “sweet brag, bro,” but that’s not the point here. The point is that our music community and scene is so strong that somehow we have existed for 9 years as a festival without any major sponsors, any major headliners, and any major press coverage. We have booked artists early on such as G Eazy, RiFF RAFF, A Day To Remember, Bring Me The Horizon, and so many more that have gone on to do massive things and headline major events filled with corporate sponsors and huge national media outlets. If I’m not mistaken, G Eazy will be playing Coachella in April.

Here’s my point… what brought us into music as promoters was music being the biggest part of our lives, and after doing this for 12 years I am proud to say that’s still the motivation. We were the kids in the crowd, we were the crowd surfers, we were the kids that waited in long lines to see bands like Brand New, Taking Back Sunday, Senses Fail, Fall Out Boy, and so many more as they were blowing up. We are the kids that passed out flyers for labels and did everything we could to help the scene before it was all just digital. We were the outcasts at school who only gave a shit about leaving school to go to the next show.

That is what our festival is and always will be, a place for everyone to escape whatever is going on in their lives and come to Dallas and have an amazing weekend with people from all over the world that come together to celebrate the music in our scene. Even if we remain underrated and ignored by the corporations that have the power to help us grow into new markets and the press that could tell our story… so what right? This is your festival, this is our festival, and we are gonna keep doing it bigger and better every year and one day everyone that has ignored this scene wont be able to.

Keep buying concert tickets, keep buying merch, keep pre-ordering albums, keep buying vinyl, keep the scene alive forever.