Best Hip-Hop Producer-Engineer 2019 | MouseQuake | Best of Dallas® 2020 | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Dallas | Dallas Observer

The résumé of Norman "MouseQuake" Barrett speaks for itself. His national credits for production and engineering work include Lil' Wayne, Nas, David Banner, UGK, Kevin Gates and ScarFace, to name a few. Locally he's crafted and cured beats for Rakim Al Jabbaar, Stone Mecca, DQ Hampton, Flower Child, Shoose McGee, Flexinfab and on and on. MouseQuake's profession can be a thankless job. When the finished product is streamed or performed onstage, it's easy for artists and fans to forget about the person who created the instrumental. What differentiates MouseQuake is that what he provides to the DFW hip-hop community is deeper than beats and proper EQ levels. He's a mentor who shares wisdom and experiences aimed at helping local artists become the best version of themselves.

Roderick Pullum
Kimber Fox

Kimber "Crimsin" Fox is a DFW native who established her entertainment career and substantial following as a member of the Her Sins Burlesque & Cabaret troupe when she lived in Austin. Upon moving back to Dallas in 2017, she established a subsidiary of the troupe called the Erotic Side of Sin. Through that brand, Fox has done a great deal as a performer and producer to elevate erotic performance art into the mainstream of Dallas burlesque. The themes of her shows include elements of kink and fetish with the intent to normalize expression in ways that are safe and consensual. There's surface entertainment value in her productions, but for Fox it's important that people learn they shouldn't be ashamed of who they are as sexual beings as long as consent has been established.

EvryDay Tony has a lot going for him besides a cool stage name. Honestly, we don't know much about him, but here's what we've gathered so far: The up-and-coming rapper hails from Arlington by way of New Jersey. Lyrically he's armed with potent punch lines and stellar lyricism. Back in March he stood out among a strong crop of talent at the Master of the Mic competition, which he won. Also, EvryDay Tony has a strong team behind him. He's signed to Fort Worth hip-hop icon Erotic-D's label E-World, which means he has plenty of fire beats to go with his exceptional lyrics. For anyone who's in the market to become a new fan of a local rapper, you should listen to his song "Super Nova" immediately when it becomes available. If the legendary Italian director Sergio Leone came back from the dead to direct a modern, hip-hop-influenced western, "Super Nova" would be the theme song.

Kathy Tran
Gavin Mulloy represents.

Promoter and music marketing guru Gavin Mulloy has been a pillar of the Dallas live-music industry for more than a decade. After manning the creative director post at the Granada for five years, he left to oversee marketing for Trees and The Bomb Factory. This made him a vital part of maintaining and elevating the resurgence of live music in Deep Ellum. He also handles marketing for Dallas-Fort Worth's seminal local music event Homegrown Festival. Last year he headed north for a position at Legacy Hall in Plano, which gave instant credibility to their live-music ventures. Mulloy is an outspoken staple of the community whose passion extends to the people and businesses of Deep Ellum. He's typically present at any town hall meeting or panel discussion relevant to Deep Ellum, and whether online or in public, he'll spar with whomever for what he believes is in the best interests of the diverse population of residents, patrons and business owners who are the lifeblood of Deep Ellum.

In the year of our Lord 2019, it's nearly impossible to get a decent adult beverage for under $10. Thankfully, Bryan Street Tavern has us covered. A vodka soda will set you back only $3.25 during happy hour, which is Monday through Friday from 4 to 7 p.m. They also run daily specials like half-price pizza on Mondays and half-price Texas drafts on Tuesdays. It's also a great date spot. When you get bored of all that awkward small talk and you need something to do with your hands, you can play darts or pool. Plus the cavernous lighting is flattering, no matter the time of day. As an added bonus, the bar is a stand-alone establishment with plenty of parking, and they're conveniently located in East Dallas.

Anyone who's lived in Dallas for more than a few years has heard of The Balcony Club. Settled a few feet above ground adjacent to the historic Lakewood Theatre, the Balcony Club is primed for people-watching. The club opened in the late 1980s and has faced many closure threats through the years. Yet the club's original decor and comforting, community-based feeling survives. Folks commingle among the dusty neon and velvet unlike any other place in the city, and whether it's in the bar or the dance floor at Mi Cocina below the balcony, there's always something to eavesdrop on. The best time to visit the club is Sunday nights, when jazz, poetry and people who actually go out on Sunday nights convene. You never know who you'll meet — or what you'll hear.

Can Turkyilmaz
Tippy Balady and Jason Burt

The Booker T. Washington senior recently announced an impending move to Los Angeles, where the angel-toned Balady will surely be discovered before exiting the plane. Her playful arrangements and emotive scope suggest the maturity of an artist post-burnout and recall — and put her on par with — fellow singer-songwriter-pianist Regina Spektor. Balady's music videos easily surpass 100k views, like last year's "Merry Go Round," a stunning slice of cinema focused on a hypnotic interpretive dancer. But it's the singer's bubbly, uptempo outlook, in songs like "Mustard" and "Begin Again," that will propel her into a playlist must-have.

Sons of Hermann Hall is undoubtedly a landmark of historical significance , but once you step into the bar on the right side of the entrance, that sense of formality is tossed aside immediately. It always feels like an episode of Cheers when you get settled into your barstool, and if you come at the right time, you'll see some people circled around an electric campfire for a jam session that anyone with an instrument is welcome to partake in. Sons gets aptly recognized as one of the best country music venues in town, but not enough people mosey in just to drink. You owe it to yourself to down some dirt-cheap Shiners from plastic cups beneath a ballroom where Townes Van Zandt once stood.

The Limbo Room in the back of Ruins is a gigantic music venue squeezed into one of the smaller music venues in Deep Ellum. For a venue with a maximum capacity of 200 people, Ruins' Production Manager Christopher Kent Cotter has gone above and beyond to ensure that everyone has the best concert experience possible. Cotter was instrumental in finding and installing the sound system along with Emerald City productions, owned by Ryan Kyle McGinnis of Arlington. He is also obsessed with how every show booked by Matt Battaglia looks and sounds, turning to respected freelance audio engineer Eric Anthony Rogers for tuning and Granada Theater's Josh Gully for the venue's incredible lighting rig. Shows in The Limbo Room are typically varied in genre. Accompanied by Ruins' signature drinks and food menu, any show you catch at this small venue is sure to make you feel like a VIP.

Melissa Hennings
Homegrown is all right with us.

The 10th Anniversary of Homegrown Music and Arts Festival may have been forced to split into two days due to inclement weather, but you never would have known it. Despite the absence of regularly scheduled performers, the packed festival was treated to performances by favorites like Pearl Earl and 40 Acre Mule, the first live performance ever by Oscar DeLaughter, the ATO Records label-signing celebration of Black Pumas and a mind-blowing performance by Tripping Daisy featuring a walkthrough by the long-lost brother of Guglielmo Achille Cavellini, the Italian artist on the cover of the band's breakthrough 1995 album I Am an Elastic Firecracker. Capped off with an electric performance by Toadies, Homegrown proved to be North Texas' favorite festival with its never-say-die attitude and dedication to showcasing the best musicians from all genres across the state.

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