Dallas Observer Music Awards

Musician and Radio Host Paul Slavens Looks Back on 25 Years of North Texas Music

Editor: This year, we're celebrating the 25th Dallas Observer Music Awards. Our coverage will include recollections from last quarter century of North Texas music. Paul Slavens was one of the only musicians to be nominated for the first DOMA, in 1988, and also this year. Here, the musician, radio host and North Texas music lover reflects.

The Dallas Observer Music Awards are 25 years old this year. A lot has changed in North Texas and in the world of music since then. When the first DOMAs were awarded, the vinyl album and the cassette were the dominant formats. KERA was a music station. Central Expressway had stoplights on the entrance ramps. We still had blue laws. I had lots of hair.

I was just getting started then, fresh from Nebraska and blissfully ignorant. I lived in Denton for three years before I worked up the nerve to come to Dallas. I grew up in the cornfields and Dallas was the big city. When my band Ten Hands booked gigs at the Prophet Bar, it was the first time I had set foot in Deep Ellum. Then, there was nothing but the Prophet Bar, Theater Gallery, empty warehouses and some bums. Props to Russ Hobbs (who at the time owned Theater Gallery and Prophet Bar) and Jeff Liles (who booked bands, there and elsewhere). I always felt like they started the whole thing down there.