MEET WILL GARWOOD: BEHIND THE SCENES AT WHITE OAK MUSIC HALL
W2 Development Partners principals Will Garwood (right) and Will Thomas (left), Photo: Provided by Will Garwood.
The Houston music scene is constantly in flux; which is a good thing. Venue openings and
closings seem to be a regular occurrence in the competitive field of hosting live music. But
one particular, new venue will open its doors this year and has the potential to become
another fixture in the local scene. Will Garwood, a leading managing partner of both
the soon to be unveiled White Oak Music Hall, and it’s neighbor — the recently opened
Raven Tower, was gracious enough to cover a few topics about his new venues and what
else is on the horizon for live music in Houston.
What inspired you to get into the music business, specifically what concert made
you know you wanted to get into this business?
I have always loved the escapism of live music. It is like a drug that transports you
away from the weights of the day-to-day and infuses you with the energy of the
performance. Some of my favorite music experiences have come outdoors and that was
something I drew on as my inspiration for developing a new venue in Houston. Seeing
shows at the Greek in Berkeley and Stubbs in Austin made me want a place that is
tucked away within our Houston community, where we could all just let our collective
hair down and jam out to good music.
How did this beautiful, scenic property become an opportunity?
I found the property in the late summer of 2013 and the downtown views, natural
topography, and proximity to the bayou all seemed to be conspiring to tell me I had to
pull the trigger. There wasn’t any real imagination required to see the potential as an
outdoor gathering space, it was all there laid out in front of me. Me and my real estate
partner Will Thomas were just fortunate that we were able to tie up enough adjoining
property to make the whole project work, even after adding the 18,000 SF indoor venue
Tell us about the job fair White oak Music Hall will be hosting in the working class,
Hispanic area near Northside, and how do you see White Oak fitting into the
We have done a ton of work with Super Neighborhood 51 to make White Oak Music Hall a
partnership with the community. We have heard they want a more walkable, safe and lit,
commercial corridor along N. Main. We believe White Oak Music Hall can be an anchor for
this. We have adopted the City of Houston Pedestrian corridor standard (rebuilding all the
sidewalks in the process to make our section of N. Main mirror what has happened along
the rail downtown. In practice this just means wider, landscaped sidewalks and meeting
certain aesthetic criteria for building facades. We are also working with Harris County
Precinct 2, the Houston Parks Board, and the Riverview Foundation to study and build a hike
and bike trail connecting White Oak Bayou and Woodland Park in the Heights to Moody Park
in the Northside via an alignment along Little White Oak Bayou.
The Northside has a powerful current of musical heritage and talent that we hope will help
propel us. We have worked with Eric Jimenez, former band director at Jeff Davis High
school, to support the local music community and are hoping to collaborate on some actual
shows at White Oak here in the near future. For those who like to connect dots, we happen
to be just a block away from the recording studio of world famous Tejano rocker’s La Mafia.
We are proud to have been accepted by the Northside and want to honor their support by
making sure we recognize the talent around us. Check out the paintings of resident artist
Luis Gonzalez in the Raven Tower and the craftsmanship of Kuehn Construction- who moved
their offices to the Northside this year and who have hired many of our neighbors to
perform the work- in the bar building below. As we hire more security, concessionaires, and
other personal for White Oak we will post those openings through a job fair.
What are you currently listening to right now? Any hopes into who will be coming
through to playing White Oak?
This is such a fun question. First off, Jagi and Will T would be making fun of me the minute
I started to answer this. I am always loud and proud about what I love, it’s all over the
map. My core is kind of jam and progressive bluegrass bands: I love Railroad Earth, The
Revivalists, Greensky Bluegrass, Moe, and Trampled by Turtles. My Spotify is also heavy
with Americana/roots rock stars like Jason Isbell, Matthew Logan Vasquez, Drive By
Truckers, Sturgill Simpson, Anders Osborne, Brandi Carlile, and Nicki Bluhm. I also
developed into a big fan of both classic reggae and dub reggae/rock. Surf traveling in
Central America in my twenties infused Jimmy Cliff, Burning Spear, Slightly Stoopid, 10 Foot
Ganja Plant, SOJA, and John Brown’s Body into my permanent rotation to name a few.
Finally, as a native Texan I must say my roots are always with country, and I am still never
happier than when outside listening to my some of my favorite music legends like George
Strait, Randy Travis, Merle Haggard, Don Williams, and Robert Earl Keen. I’ve even been
known to dive into a mid-90s country wormhole and tear up to select numbers from Billy
Ray Cyrus and Doug Supernaw.
Really I just love music and I have no idea what sells or what is at the forefront of the scene.
I just enjoy hearing people turn emotion into sound. I have an amazing partner in Jagi who
is out there every day with artists and agents cultivating the music experience at White Oak
Music Hall, so luckily I get to sit back and enjoy the show. I hope all of you will be there with me.