Deep Ellum Blues: How Come These Influential Dallas Acts Don't Have Deep Ellum Murals?
Deep Ellum is in many ways the music capital of Dallas. Yes, the area has had its ups and downs. No, it hasn't always been the center of the music scene, especially with Denton consistently pumping out artists at a rapid rate.
But, fact is, without a doubt, Deep Ellum has for over a century now been a stomping ground for emerging artists. And those are just the locals. National and international acts are constantly swing through the Dallas neighborhood, and every night of the week, there's something to see there, whether it's a big, super group at a large venue like Trees or a small acoustic set from some local dude at All Good Café.
For years now, local, visual artists have been paying tribute to the music-centric neighborhood by painting large murals of influential characters on the sides of various brick buildings.
The murals are in many ways Dallas' music hall of fame. Walking around Elm Street alone, one can catch glimpses of Erykah Badu, Lisa Loeb, The Reverend Horton Heat, Rhett Miller and on the brick walls of the region. There are even some newer artists on there, too, like The O's, who got their own mural painted in 2009, or Madison King, who just had her first mural painted last month.
Hey, we're happy for most of the parties involved. But, fact is, we here at DC9 feel like there are plenty of important figures that have been left out, and who deserve murals of their own. After the jump, we offer up some candidates for future Deep Ellum enshrinement. Some of them have had murals in the past that have been painted over -- but they're artists that, we think, deserve a return. Other have never been honored in this capacity. In the comments below, let us know what you think of our nominations. And tell us: Who else do you think deserves a coveted Deep Ellum mural?
- There were, at one point, murals of Blues legends Robert Johnson, Lead Belly and Blind Lemon Jefferson. No more, unfortunately. Shame, too: These three Deep Ellum blues legends inspired many musicians, and are true icons from Deep Ellum earliest blues days. Lead Belly and Jefferson wrote a number of songs about the city, including "Ella Speed" and the infamous "Deep Ellum Blues."
- Tim DeLaughter is a Dallas icon. He got his start in 1990 by forming Tripping Daisy, who played some of their first-ever gigs in Deep Ellum. In the years since, he's founded two other bands -- The Polyphonic Spree and, just recently, Preteen Zenith. He's also formed his own record label, Good Records Recordings, and his Good Records record store, now Lower Greenville, got its start on Good-Latimer Expressway. So, where is his effing mural? Good question.
- Sarah Jaffe performed out live for the first time during an open mic night at Club Dada. Her debut album, Even Born Again, is a force to be reckoned with, earning shout-outs from the likes of Rolling Stone and being sold at Starbucks locations around the country. (You've totally made it if your record is sold at Starbucks, right?) Here's something else she's accomplished of note: With 11 Dallas Observer Music Awards to her name, she's already one of the most decorated DOMA winners in history. More interesting, perhaps, is that she's also undefeated in our reader-voted music awards, having never lost an award in any category in which she's ever been nominated.
- The Toadies may technically be from Fort Worth, but they definitely got their start playing shows in Deep Ellum. Is there a more iconic place to catch these guys than in Trees?
- Jeff Liles and Russell Hobbs deserve some credit for helping Deep Ellum's '80s and '90s revitalization, using their Theatre Gallery venue to help spearhead a return-to-music for the then-downtrodden neighborhood. Currently, Hobbs owns and runs The Prophet Bar and various The Door Clubs throughout the region. Liles serves as the artistic director for the Kessler Theater in Oak Cliff.
- He may not be from Dallas, but whenever we've interviewed Wayne Coyne here at DC9, he goes on and on and on, telling us about how his band, The Flaming Lips, got their big break playing shows in Deep Ellum when they couldn't score gigs in their native Oklahoma.
- Pantera's Vinnie Paul Abbott and Dimebag Darrell Abbott are Arlington natives, sure. But these metal legends too got their start playing Deep Ellum.
- We're pretty sure Dorrough has never played Deep Ellum. But he's from Dallas, and his catchy "Ice Cream Paint Job" song went platinum, so... maybe?
- Before she married Paul Simon, Oak Cliff native and Booker T. Washington High School graduate Edie Brickell, famous for such late-'80s songs as "What I Am" and "Circle" got famous with her band The New Bohemians thanks to their legendary Club Dada shows.
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