Weekly Mixer Pushes Fresno’s Arts Scene


Photo by: Paulina Rodríguez Ruiz

Local musician AJ Best performs at Strummers during the Monday Night Mixers on Monday March 26, 2018.

Every Monday night, the Tower District bar and music venue Strummer’s comes alive with the bustling sounds of local artists and musicians, and casual bar attendees are treated to a front row seat of Fresno’s underground music and art scene.

The Monday Night Mixers event, created by Johnny Quiroz through his media company Love the Captive, is a free event that offers a space for artists to network, gain exposure, and share their art.

“I wanted to find a way to continually connect people in the arts, music,” Quiroz said, “Whether you do photo, or video, or graphic design, anything with a creative side or none, just to get them in the same room on a weekly basis.”

The mixers are from 7 to 10 p.m., and the first hour is dedicated to networking, while the last two are composed of performances by local musicians.

The very first mixer was held April 24, 2017, at Kockey’s, a Bar and Grill in downtown Fresno. The mixers moved to Strummer’s after Kockey’s double booked two separate events the following Monday.

Quiroz said starting the mixers wasn’t too difficult because he has been a part of Fresno’s arts and entertainment scene since 2005, through Love the Captive.

Fresno artist, James Gearlds says one of the benefits of the mixers is the connections made with other attendees.

“Someone like me who’s an artist, or maybe like a musician can come out and meet a fashion designer and say, ‘hey you do clothes well, you can design your clothing for my video’ and that way people can network,” Gearlds said. “Or if someone maybe needs an album cover, then an artist can do that. It’s just a good way for people who are creative to mix and mingle.”

Tables inside Strummer’s are converted into mini pop-up shops for artists and local clothing companies to sell their work.

Ernest Smith, a regular mixer attendee and local musician, says in order to become a part of the mixers, interested parties just need to show up.

“Literally, that’s all you have to do, show up connect with people,” Smith said. “After you connect with people, share your information.”

Smith says spaces like these are important in Fresno because they offer a medium through which they are able to express themselves.

“The reason why it’s important to have this is for those that don’t know where to go, don’t think they have [any]where to belong to, we open this up for them,” Smith said. “So they can understand, you do have a home, this can be your home. Share that God given talent and gift you have, don’t hide it dont bury it, because you’re creating a uniqueness and you have a lot to offer.”

Quiroz said the mixers are only a start — he wants to be able to leave a legacy in Fresno.

“I’d love to have that name Love the Captive associated with helping birth a true music industry here,” Quiroz said.