By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
4. Celebrate Good Times, Come On. Speaking of festivals, this year—finally—saw some good, albeit small for now, fests taking place. Aside from Meltdown and Electric Daisy, the region also saw the local debut of the MusInk Tattoo Convention and the debut of the Homegrown Music Festival. The former, which combines tattoo and music artistry, hosted Lucero, the Old 97's and The Used, among others; the latter found an all-local cast of musical outfits, including Jonathan Tyler & The Northern Lights and This Will Destroy You, joining forces for a day of local music celebration in downtown's Main Street Garden Park. All encouraging stuff—especially when you also factor in the biggest year yet from NX35, which hosted the Flaming Lips as its headlining act, and our own Dallas Observer Music Awards Showcase, which this year returned to Deep Ellum, featured an outdoor stage and drew its largest crowd ever.
3. Everything Old Is New Again. Dallas has always embraced the new and cast the old aside. Thankfully, 2010 saw a change in that thinking, as a number of old, shuttered venues were revitalized and reopened. In Oak Cliff, two old movie houses, the Kessler Theater and the Texas Theater, reopened and embraced the idea of hosting music. Meanwhile, in Deep Ellum, Trees, which reopened in late 2009, was a major factor in crowds returning to the neighborhood. Expect the trend to continue in 2010's final days, as Club Dada, closed for the past two years, plans to reopen New Year's Eve.
2. Hey, Ladies! It's always been a difficult task, trying to explain the one thing that ties North Texas music together. This is a sprawling region that embraces a wide array of musical styles, but in 2010 one thing became increasingly clear: This town supports its women. It was a hugely successful year for a whole bunch of Dallas-based female musicians. Erykah Badu was on the receiving end of the greatest critical acclaim of her career since the release of her 1997 debut, Baduizm, thanks to her New Amerykah, Part II: Return of the Ankh release. And a whole slew of newcomers—impossibly endearing folk hero Sarah Jaffe; rising R&B sensation Dondria; and the Dallas Family Band's piano-toting indie-pop darling Lalagray—released powerful debut full-lengths.
1. Meet The New Bosses, Same As The Old Bosses. Four of the region's biggest stars released new albums this year: Badu; Midlake, with their engrossing The Courage of Others; the Old 97's, with their return-to-form The Grand Theatre, Vol. 1; and the Toadies, who finally got around to releasing their shelved-since-'97 album, Feeler. All that was missing was a new disc from The Polyphonic Spree. As tired as these artists' story lines may now be, the fact remains: These are our region's greatest musical treasures, and in 2010, they proved it again.