Mixmaster presents "100 Creatives," in which we feature cultural entrepreneurs of Dallas in random order.
Fresh off the 18th year anniversary party, the guys at Crown & Harp have a lot to be thankful for, particularly our next Dallas luminary, Moody Fuqua.
Since 2013, Fuqua's been doing everything there, from picking out the drapes to organizing some of the most exciting all-local music cards to ever grace the Dallas music scene. And we're not alone in calling Crown & Harp the epicenter of the Lower Greenville "comeback tour."
For Fuqua however, it's about far more than putting on a good show. His true aim is to cultivate the local music scene here in Dallas, and help turn it into something bigger and better than it's ever been.
"There's so much music out there in the city and I felt like for a long time, up until really recently, only a little of it was getting attention and it was kind of hurting the scene," Fuqua says. Since he started booking shows for Crown & Harp he has worked to get people like fellow Dallas creative Stefan Gonzalez to help him promote and book local Dallas acts.
"Local shows actually draw now," Fuqua says. "All local bills actually are money makers now, so people on the other end of it looking on the money side are into it, which is awesome. This is what we wanted to happen. I mean their reasoning might not be so awesome, but hey man, it just means that all these local artists are getting the attention that they deserve."
They sure are, thanks in part to the hard work of people like Fuqua. He had a moment to spare for us, and we jumped at the chance to pick his brain.
What makes the music scene in Dallas so unique? There's so much music out there in the city and I felt like for a long time, up until really recently, only a little of it was getting attention and it was kind of hurting the scene. Because when people were planning tours and stuff from outside of Texas they were kind of skipping over Dallas because all they saw as far as music was this little bit of... shit for a long time it was Americana and that was it. And it was like 'Oh no, we have so much more music,' and it's like the hip-hop scene as we all know has exploded locally lately. It's nice to see more coverage because I think it's creating a thing where everybody is starting to pay attention. They see that we have so much to offer. It seems to me that no other city right now, in the United States, has a scene. You know you've got these artists that are big, they're popping up from here or there you know, L.A., New York, Chicago. You don't hear about a scene like you're hearing about here in Dallas. Maybe I'm just being biased, but I feel like we have a lot to offer musically in all shapes and sizes and forms. And I'm excited about it. I like music, I'm a musician myself, I played in the local music scene so that's another way I know a lot of these guys. I just like being able to facilitate bringing it to the forefront, because another thing is too, a lot of musicians aren't the best promoters or the best at getting their name out there. So what I try to do is find talent and say, 'Hey man, you've got the talent, let me help you get your name out there,' so to speak. If any of that makes sense.
Is it Dallas' music scene that keeps you here? Yes, it is. Honestly I considered moving because I think everybody that's involved in the Dallas scene gets to a point where they're like, 'I've done as much as I can here,' and I think what's happening now is that everyone is realizing that 'Oh wait a minute, I don't need to go anywhere.' There's really something cool in the art scene that's cultivating here, where instead of leaving we can all nurture it together. You know I encourage artists that are wanting to move, I'm like 'Don't move, go on tour, get yourself out there. You need to be touring constantly but stay in Dallas because you're going to save money.' It's the cheapest big city relatively in the country, I mean if you're comparing it to other music markets like Chicago, New York, L.A., San Francisco places like that, it's cheap. So why not base here, live here and then get yourself out there by touring and that kind of stuff. That just helps keep what we have here, as opposed to somebody getting a little fame and then move to New York or somewhere and then become a part of that city so to speak, and not a part of Dallas anymore.
[Dallas is] one of the largest media markets in the world, a ton of people are moving here and we're even getting artists moving here because they're saying how cheap it is to live here. You know Spinderella lives here ... this is on purpose. They're like 'Oh I can tour around and do what it is that I want to do, but Dallas has everything at its disposal that I need and the cost of living is cheap.' I mean it all comes back to that in my opinion.
It's something really exciting that I can't really explain, but I just see something happening in the city and I'm just really excited. I'm excited to be in the right place at the right time. I think it's one of those situations, and it's like we've always had something to prove and I think it's actually proving itself now. It's finally happening.
Is there anything you would change about the scene here in Dallas? I think we need more record labels. Just to help give more management and guidance to some of these young artists. There's a separation between art and promotion, and in this day and age you kind of have to be one in the same but that's what saturates the music scene because you have all of these people that are incredible promoters but their music's awful. But they get all sorts of attention because they're good at marketing themselves. People that see this and can help these artists do what they do best and help them get out there so they're not worrying about getting their name out there, they're worrying about their art. Also I think there's a lot more people in my position working together, but there is still kind of a divide. I believe there's kind of an old guard that they all just work with each other and work with certain people and kind of rip on everyone else. And I think people are starting to realizing that they don't have to work with those people any more, that there's just so much out there now. The best thing that can happen is that these guys [the old guard] start working with everybody, or they'll just fall by the wayside.
How was the transition from local musician to local promoter? Well I played in local bands, and I kind of helped put some shows together for us. I saw myself as being better at booking shows and being on that side of it than as a musician, to be honest. I mean trust me I wish I could've been this awesome, amazing musician, but I feel like I'm better at nurturing these super talented people, and I try to use whatever kind of clout I have to help these people. And that's another thing, going back to something I'd like to see more of is more attention focused on the artists, and not on the promoters and the behind the scenes people. I think it's kind of getting away from what's really bringing people out. The art and the entertainment is what is awesome, not who booked the show, you know what I mean? I try to use my name or whatever, to help nurture these people that wouldn't necessarily get any attention otherwise. There are a lot of these other promoters and bookers who will use a big name to get their name out there.
Is the music scene in Dallas a tight knit community? It is. It's high school, I will say. There's a lot of silliness that goes on, a lot of drama that I think is less than it used to be, but it still exists, and I think that won't ever go away. My whole thing was that I never really saw clubs doing multiple genre bills or multiple genre shows. Every club seemed to be like, this is a real punk rock and roll club, this is a hip-hop club, this is a shoegaze club and I was like I love all of it. I love music. One of my biggest struggles at first was kind of trying to bridge the gap between the hip-hop scene and the rock scene, because I'm a huge advocate of hip-hop music. It was tough in the beginning, but I think that's something that started to become something where now everybody is kind of embracing it because it's in their face, they don't have a choice.
How did you end up at The Crown and Harp? I was actually hanging out at the Granada with [a friend] and he was like 'Hey, you know it would really be cool if you brought The Cavern back.' So I actually thought about it and honestly had not even been in The Crown and Harp since it had switched over and kind of just talked my way into it. 'Hey, this is what I did,' I was talking to one of the bartenders who was like 'Oh, you need to meet the owner,' and he and I talked for about an hour that night and he was like 'When can you start?' I was like, I'd like to manage, bartend, whatever it is I can do, but I really want to help cultivate the music scene over here. And they were struggling a little bit at that point so there wasn't money there yet for me ... that's why I was bartending and stuff, to help supplement my income. He was like here we can give you some bartending shifts and here's what I can give you as far as the calendar is and he gave me, you know, a few nights here and there and the next thing I know I have the whole calendar to myself.
I had booked a few DJs at Bryan Street, but never that many, so it was neat to get myself thrown into the whole DJ scene at The Crown and Harp ... that was something new to me ... now I have two venues whereas at Bryan Street the focal point wasn't the room ... at Crown and Harp it was like, alright, you've got two rooms, you've got seven nights a week and I want the focus upstairs to be on DJs, so I had to throw myself into the DJ scene and really get to know the DJs and learn about that culture and that music and stuff, and I think that has helped kind of well-round me so to speak. And the fact that I have 14 nights a week that I have to book, you can't do the same stuff all the time, you have to constantly be looking for new stuff. And try and keep it eclectic so it's always fresh.
Is it hard to find that many people to play that many shows? It was. I don't think it's as hard now. Because that's the other thing, too, my point isn't just to fill nights. I want quality. I want every night to be unique and have its own thing. Still, two of the 14 nights [are] karaoke nights that [the owner] won't let me touch. I can't stand karaoke. It was [hard] for a while, but it's gotten to the point now, which is kind of awesome and a blessing, where people are hitting me up all the time, it's almost like there's a waiting list.
What advice would you give to local artists? I would definitely say to the people who are really good at music but not marketing, I would say try and reach out and find some people to help you out. The great thing with the Internet now is we've all connected.
Getting yourself out there and meeting the right people, I always feel like I'm an idea guy but I'm good at finding the right guy to make those ideas happen. I'm a big picture person but I'll be the last to say that I can make that happen without the help of many people. But I know the right people that I think can help make those things happen.
The biggest advice that I would give is to tour if you want to get yourself out of Dallas. But that doesn't mean you need to leave Dallas, you know Dallas is home but get out there and constantly tour.
What's your end goal at The Crown and Harp? I don't know man, I'm always looking to the future and looking to do bigger and better things, but my heart is in The Crown and Harp. I just want people to look back on it as kind of the jumping off point for artists in Dallas. I'd like to see some of these people when they're big and famous be like, 'Aw man I cut my teeth there.' That's what I'd like to see.
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What are your plans for the future? I think I'd like to have my own place, that's my biggest plan. Obviously I'm going to be helping Josey Records out a lot, and that's just another part of the umbrella, so to speak. It's another place to help cultivate the scene and to help really push what we've got going on. Honestly I've been to a ton of record stores all over the place, and that's [Josey] one of the coolest record stores I've ever seen. I think if we do it right and work with the right people, it's all part of this big master plan of breaking Dallas, so to speak.
If Josey Records takes off as a music venue, do you think you'll end up starting a trend? It seems like record stores are popping up all over the place these days. They are. I think Josey's not going anywhere. They're in it for the right reasons, they've got the right people behind it, they got the right space. You know it is trendy to have a record store, but I think a lot of these pop-ups are just boutique-y, kind of silly, like 'We have $40 records, all new releases,' you know? Whereas Josey is a record store. Q-Tip was on a layover and he had the taxi take him to Josey, cause he had heard about it online through other DJ buddies. There's already talk nationally about Josey, between the hip-hop community, the rock community, people are already taking notice and I don't think those same people are taking notice of these little boutique-y places that have a couple thousand perfectly sealed records.
It's strength in numbers. One person isn't going to make the scene; two people aren't going to make the scene. We need to all work together.
100 Creatives: 100. Theater Mastermind Matt Posey 99. Comedy Queen Amanda Austin 98. Deep Ellum Enterpriser Brandon Castillo 97. Humanitarian Artist Willie Baronet 96. Funny Man Paul Varghese 95. Painting Provocateur Art Peña 94. Magic Man Trigg Watson 93. Enigmatic Musician George Quartz 92. Artistic Luminary Joshua King 91. Inventive Director Rene Moreno 90. Color Mavens Marianne Newsom and Sunny Sliger 89. Literary Lion Thea Temple 88. Movie Maestro Eric Steele 87. Storytelling Dynamo Nicole Stewart 86. Collaborative Artist Ryder Richards 85. Party Planning Print maker Raymond Butler 84. Avant-gardist Publisher Javier Valadez 83. Movie Nerd James Wallace 82. Artistic Tastemakers Elissa & Erin Stafford 81. Pioneering Arts Advocates Mark Lowry & Michael Warner 80. Imaginative Director Jeremy Bartel 79. Behind-the-Scenes Teacher Rachel Hull 78. Kaleidoscopic Artist Taylor "Effin" Cleveland 77. Filmmaker & Environmentalist Michael Cain 76. Music Activist Salim Nourallah 75. Underground Entrepreneur Daniel Yanez 74. Original Talent Celia Eberle 73. Comic Artist Aaron Aryanpur 72. Classical Thespian Raphael Parry 71. Dance Captain Valerie Shelton Tabor 70. Underground Culture Mainstay Karen X. Minzer 69. Effervescent Gallerist Brandy Michele Adams 68. Birthday Party Enthusiast Paige Chenault 67. Community Architect Monica Diodati 66. Intrepid Publisher Will Evans 65. Writerly Wit Noa Gavin 64. Maverick Artist Roberto Munguia 63. Fresh Perspective Kelsey Leigh Ervi 62. Virtuosic Violinist Nathan Olson 61. Open Classical's Dynamic Duo Mark Landson & Patricia Yakesch 60. Rising Talent Michelle Rawlings 59. Adventurous Filmmaker Toby Halbrooks 58. Man of Mystery Edward Ruiz 57. Inquisitive Sculptor Val Curry 56. Offbeat Intellect Thomas Riccio 55. Doers and Makers Shannon Driscoll & Kayli House Cusick 54. Performance Pioneer Katherine Owens 53. Experimental Filmmaker and Video Artist Mike Morris 52. Flowering Fashioner Lucy Dang 51. Insightful Artist Stephen Lapthisophon 50. Dallas Arts District 49. Farmer's Market Localvore Sarah Perry 48. Technological Painter John Pomara 47. Progressive Playmakers Christopher Carlos & Tina Parker 46. Purposive Chef Chad Houser 45. Absorbing Artist Jeff Gibbons 44. Artistic Integrator Erica Felicella 43. Multi-talented Director Tre Garrett 42. Anachronistic Musician Matt Tolentino 41. Emerging Veteran Actor Van Quattro 40. Festival Orchestrator Anna Sophia van Zweden 39. Literary Framer Karen Weiner 38. Man Behind the Music Gavin Mulloy 37. The Godfather of Dallas Art Frank Campagna 36. Rising Star Adam A. Anderson 35. Artist Organizer Heyd Fontenot 34. Music Innovator Stefan Gonzalez 33. Triple Threat Giovanni Valderas 32. Cultural Connector Lauren Cross 31. Critical Artist Thor Johnson 30. Delicate Touch Margaret Meehan 29. Fashion Forward Charles Smith II 28. Dedicated Artist Carolyn Sortor 27. Political Cyber Banksy Wylie H Dallas 26. Dance Preserver Lisa Mesa Rogers 25. Rob 'Ain't No Creative Like A Bow-Tie-Wearing Creative' Shearer 24. Scholar of the Stage Susan Sargeant 23. Photographer of Record Justin Terveen 22. Music Man Jeffrey Liles 21. Keeper of the Safe Room Lauren Gray 20. Playwright Jonathan Norton, Man of Many Words 19. Filmmaker and Funniest Comic in Texas Linda Stogner 18. Gallerist Jordan Roth, the Art Scene Cheerleader 17. Artful Advocate Vicki Meek 16. Ballet Queen Katie Puder 15. Carlos Alejandro Guajardo-Molina, the Book Guy 14. Janeil Engelstad, an Artist with Purpose 13. Will Power, Playwright and Mentor 12. Gallerists Gina & Dustin Orlando, Boundary Pushers