Think you’ve seen all the outdoor concerts you need and if you’ve heard one, you’ve heard them all? Well, you’d be wrong if you haven’t attended some secret concerts in Mineral Wells.
To be fair, with a name like “Covert”, it’s no wonder it seems like a secret. Venture outside of Dallas, past Fort Worth, and you’ll find Mineral Wells, a small town that on the surface doesn’t seem like much to do. Yet they do.
Covert Concerts, a monthly music event hosted by promoter Seth Johnston, is a touring outdoor concert ensemble he describes as a “glorified jam session.” The artists perform for free and there is no charge to watch either.
“I had the idea last May,” says Johnston. “It was supposed to be a one-off thing, but it turned out so well that I decided to try again. The next thing I knew was a monthly event.
An intimate audience might not be the right description for a crowd, but it’s not at all crowded with its small but loyal followers. The main performance venue is in front of a giant graffiti covered wall called the ‘Graffiti Wall’, but Covert Concerts plans to move to a different location each month.
The show is powered by a generator, and while anyone can sign up to play, the Bills are mostly rock and metal. The event is billed as not having everything a typical venue might have (like bathrooms), but it was well received by interested artists, and Johnston had no trouble finding enough groups to play each month.
“For the most part, finding groups was pretty easy,” he says.
Usual Bills have rockers and metalheads from Mineral Wells such as No Compliance, As Trust Kills, and The Max Hill Band, to name a few. Johnston always schedules three groups to play, whoever is interested, until all of the slots are filled.
“The main attraction for us was the setting and the whole atmosphere of the show. – Interpreter Bill Gelwick
As Trust Kills, who found out about the event via a local music group on Facebook, performed their second concert of the year with Covert Concerts in March. Bill Gelwick, the band’s rhythm guitarist, says the setting of the show attracted them.
“The main draw for us was the setting and the whole atmosphere of the show,” says Gelwick. “The neighborhood setting and this wall of graffiti. Being outdoors, family friendly, BYOB and more are all good things for us.
Outdoor concerts have become commonplace since the pandemic, as indoor venues have closed their doors, suspended their live music, or restricted entry to the first lucky patrons. Secret concerts began at a time when local artists had to get creative and look for alternatives to their typical performances.
“The other two bands that played were super cool,” says Gelwick. “Since then, we have kept in touch with them.
Covert doesn’t try to sugarcoat what it is and offers witty honesty with every advertising poster. What it lacks in terms of facilities, food, drink and sound it makes up for with this huge wall of graffiti that helps bounce sound back towards the crowd. It’s just laid back rock and metal.
“It’s not glamorous, there is no huge turnout, there is no bar, but it’s more rock & roll,” reads one of Johnston’s posts in the spotlight. promotion of the show. “And since these shows are in a public space, we have to start early and end at 9.45pm, so you can potentially book a second concert for the same night.”
With Texas reopening, indoor shows may be the go-to for music lovers again, but outdoor shows aren’t going anytime soon, especially with a scorching summer approaching.