With the 27th annual Dallas Observer Music Awards just around the corner — in fact, voting is open right now at 2015musicawardspoll.dallasobserver.com — we're highlighting some of the nominees for this year's awards. And when we say these talent buyers are the "Best," don't just take our word for it: We polled 200 local music experts to pull together the nominees this year, so they come on pretty good authority.
In the music world, it's the creators who get all the credit. And sure, we’d be nowhere without good tunes, but we’d also have nowhere to hear good tunes if it weren’t for the incredibly savvy talent buyers who Dallas is fortunate enough to be home to. Without these talented men and women, we’d miss out on the up-and-coming acts that play tiny bars just months before they explode onto the national scene.
Call us biased, but Dallas can claim some damn fine talent buyers. There’s a reason why it’s easy to see most (not all, but most) of the biggest and buzziest tours in the comfort of a Dallas bar or music venue pretty much any night of the week — and these five talent buyers are some of the folks who most consistently make it happen. The next time you find yourself out at a show, find these guys and give them a pat on the back for making Dallas' music scene so great.
The Crown & Harp is a Lower Greenville establishment, and since taking over its management and booking after a stint at Bryan Street Tavern, Moody Fuqua has only made this venue more indispensable. Fuqua’s got an eye for putting together ridiculously impressive bills of entirely local acts, and a knack for hip-hop and R&B shows that hit well above the bar's weight class, such as the Stone's Throw showcase featuring Peanut Butter Wolf. A musician himself, Fuqua is deeply knowledgable about the Dallas music scene and the strength of the programming at Crown & Harp is the best evidence of that.
Good luck finding someone with a longer or more varied tenure in the local booking scene than Jeff Liles. A veteran of Deep Ellum in the 1980s, he journeyed from being the first Dallas DJ to play N.W.A. over the airwaves (and get fired for it) to Los Angeles and back to Dallas where he manages one of the city’s most eclectic and historic venues, The Kessler Theater. This intimate theater continually attracts artists who could easily play much larger spaces, which makes each concert at The Kessler feel unique. It also doesn’t hurt that Liles is unafraid to stand up to drunken racists in ugly fringe boots, either.
In addition to their consistently strong booking of concert bills across the city, Spune has really excelled in putting together local music festivals. While this year saw their Index Festival put on hiatus, they saw growth with arguably the biggest fest in Dallas, Untapped, and their involvement in a new one, The Reunion. This year, Untapped, their celebration of all things beer and tunes, featured Elle King, the Flaming Lips and a host of other remarkably strong artists. If fests aren’t your thing, Spune shows at Three Links, The Loft and South Side Music Hall are all equally strong, and more intimate.
The growth of Transmission Dallas, which set up shop here last year after joining forces with Tactics Productions, has been pretty remarkable to watch. The Dallas outpost of Austin-based Transmission Events, helmed by the inimitable Kris Youmans, is responsible for the best small and large shows in Dallas-Fort Worth’s best venues, from Trees to Club Dada to, most recently, The Double Wide. In Transmission’s Dallas shows, you’ll find the perfect mixture of up-and-coming and established acts that will damn near round out your monthly concert roster.
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Parade of Flesh
It’s been a bit of a tough year for Parade Of Flesh on a personal level, but the music is as strong as ever. John Iskander, the “fiercely independent” mind behind Parade Of Flesh, suffered a bout of seizures earlier this year, which required some adjustment in the life of Dallas’ ballsiest talent buyer. The strength of Spillover Fest alone, the Parade of Flesh brainchild that brings SXSW spillover acts to Dallas once a year, is enough to elevate Iskander to genius status. It’s the rest of his concert calendar, though, that makes you wonder exactly how someone can be this good at booking great shows, including the more recent addition of free shows at The Foundry.