By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
Uh-huh. Kirtland's pretty busy these days. Just don't talk about that in front of Thomsen. Says the label rep who can regularly be spotted scoping out the local scene: "I'm afraid that, if I admit to that, I'll just get busier!" —Pete Freedman
The upright piano in Salim Nourallah's Pleasantry Lane Studio serves more than one purpose, and these days it's getting increasingly more use as trophy case loaded with Dallas Observer Music Awards from years past.
As that piano gets more crowded, though, so too does Pleasantry Lane. The waiting list of bands hoping to record with Nourallah gets longer with each year. And as the clientele improves, so does the gear. Notable records in 2010 include Whiskey Folk Ramblers' ...And There Are Devils and Old 97's' forthcoming double album, The Grand Theatre, along with loads of releases from lesser-known acts.
Says Nourallah of his tireless recording schedule: "It's kind of a dream job."
Judging by his work ethic, he really means it.
While this year's competition (notably John Congleton, Dave Castell and Matt Barnhart) are working with more well-established acts, Nourallah isn't afraid to get his hands dirty with unknown and, sometimes, even downright bad artists.
He'll never admit it, but he has the uncanny ability to make bad music enjoyable. Dude can straight-up polish a turd. —Daniel Hopkins
Best Booking Agents
The Granada Theater's been the setting for a healthy majority of our favorite concerts over the past few years, and the past year was no different.
With memorable shows by Neko Case, Neon Indian, Robert Randolph, The Hold Steady, Beach House, Yeasayer, Dinosaur Jr. and many, many more, it's easy to see why the Granada was voted the Best Venue for the fourth straight year. (Your votes also handed them the award for Best Booking, though, to be fair, fellow nominee and current Loft/Palladium Showroom booker Kris Youmans was a large part of that before he left last February.)
But what's really telling is the number of high-quality, audience-friendly venues that have sprouted up in the Granada's wake over the past year—La Grange, the Kessler, a refurbished Trees, etc.—all of which emulate the venue's friendly vibe towards bands and fans alike, while eschewing the horrible black-box-with-a-stage setup that was the M.O. for much of Deep Ellum and Lower Greenville over the years.
And, far as Granada owner Michael Schoder is concerned, the competition's welcome. You might have even seen him and his wife, Julia, checking out the scene at our DOMA Showcase last weekend in Deep Ellum, happy as anyone else about the neighborhood's resurgence.
"I respect all of the independent venues," Schoder says. "This is my family, and I'll be here working the music scene in Dallas for the rest of my life."
Lucky us. —Noah W. Bailey
Best Music Advocate
The old joke doesn't work on Chelsea Callahan. She loves local music so much that she probably would marry it—if she could. For now, though, she's just pleased that they have a really great relationship.
"I don't think there's a reason to be negative," Callahan says. "To me, the music scene in Dallas right now is super exciting. You can almost feel the buzz of people coming together and having great ideas and making them happen."
She's one of those people making things happen—just as she has for years. Callahan serves as booking agent for the Double-Wide, for Renfield's Corner and for "New Music Fridays" at Life in Deep Ellum. She's also the band/venue liaison for local online ticketers Pre-Kindle, and a board member for both Art Conspiracy and the Carter Albrecht Music Foundation. Oh, and she's also a pretty slammin' DJ.
That's a lot for one person. But Callahan does it all—and she attends more shows than anyone else in town.
If you want to see a physical manifestation of the words "busy," "dedicated," "positive" and "enthusiastic" as related to the Dallas music scene, just keep an eye out for the one they call Cha-Cha. You'll run into her eventually, promise. —Merritt Martin
Best Record Store
Considering how many musicians, promoters and music nerds we bump into while perusing the racks at Good Records on a regular basis, it should come as no surprise to see the Dallas institution walk away with the award for Best Record Store for yet another year.
Really, if Good merely sold records it would still be the best in town. But throw in the fact that the store also hosts numerous in-stores, a kick-ass free film series (Music Movie Mondays) and one of the year's best parties (Record Store Day), and it's really a no-brainer.
But it's the guys behind the counter who really keep the customers coming back, whether it's co-owner Chris Penn, graphic designer Kevin Sears, stoner-rock aficionado Jacob Douglas or beloved experimental curmudgeon Mark Church.
"He might look like Charles Manson," Penn says of Church, "but he has a heart of gold and can turn you onto some good stuff."