DFW Music News

A New Album Will Once Again Capture the 'Sound of Deep Ellum'

Chilldren of Indigo is one of 11 groups and musicians recording a live vinyl album tonight at Trees to celebrate Deep Ellum's 150 years of musical history.
Chilldren of Indigo is one of 11 groups and musicians recording a live vinyl album tonight at Trees to celebrate Deep Ellum's 150 years of musical history. Jason Janik
The Deep Ellum neighborhood is about to mark its 150th year of providing a place for countless new musical artists to share their sound, and nonprofit Deep Ellum 100 is celebrating this momentous milestone by creating a new album of live music by some of the neighborhood's best acts.

"We decided to really focus on the music and the 150th anniversary of Deep Ellum," says Gianna Madrini, one of the co-founders of Deep Ellum 100.

The nonprofit group, along with a panel (which, full disclosure, included our music editor, Eva Raggio), selected 11 artists out of more than 100 submissions to receive a special grant and the opportunity to perform live tonight at Trees on Elm Street. The concert will be recorded for a live album called The Sounds of Deep Ellum, set for a vinyl release by Idol Records in the late fall or early summer of 2023, Madrini says.

"We asked them what their connection was to the neighborhood and where they play, what projects they're working on and their goals for collaborating with other artists," Madrini says about the selection process for the grants and live album concept. "Everybody gave us some fantastic feedback, but really we wanted to make sure they were playing musicians who play in some of the venues here in Deep Ellum, and highlight not only these musicians but also the continuum of music Deep Ellum has had for 150 years."

The live show and the live album include performances by Cure for Paranoia, Lorelei K, Stone Mecca, Chilldren of Indigo, Flower Child, Memory Shivers, Labretta Suede, Maya Piata, Skinny Cooks and Ducado Vega.

"It's a big deal for us," says Dahlia Knowles, who performs as Lorelei K. "This is actually one of our first opportunities to get press on vinyl so that's exciting, and we haven't played at Trees before. We've gotten to play at a lot of cool venues in Deep Ellum, but never Trees."
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Skinny Cooks will perform a set tonight at Trees on Elm Street that will be recorded for a special compilation vinyl of Deep Ellum music.
Jason Janik
Cameron McCloud of hip-hop collective Cure for Paranoia says being chosen to perform for the Deep Ellum is "an honor especially because Deep Ellum raised us as musicians.

"I got out there about seven years ago and I remember being in Deep Ellum when there wasn't even street lights," McCloud adds. "It's been really interesting to not only watch but in a way be part of the growth for Deep Ellum."

Knowles says her music project started seven years ago as a solo project before morphing into a band in venues across Deep Ellum and Dallas.

"Most of the shows I've played have been in Dallas in general, and a ton of those shows have been in Deep Ellum," Knowles says. "I think Deep Ellum has a really exciting music culture that's really unique to that area. There's so much energy out there and excitement to get to play any sized club in Deep Ellum. It really does feel special."

McCloud says performing in Deep Ellum not only inspired him to pursue his group's unmistakable sound but it also introduced him to his future bandmates, who helped shape the group's music.

"I came to the realization that I didn't just want to have a DJ playing behind me," he says. "I wanted a vibe and a collective that even shaped how we record music with trumpets and horns in the songs. We wanted to make it just as big as it was on stage, and I don't think I would've had that thought process playing with different groups and musicians and taking their styles and musical influences and using it to create this genre."

An original album called Sound of Deep Ellum was released in 1987 with names like Reverend Horton Heat, The New Bohemians, The Buck Pets, Decadent Dub Team and others. The neighborhood's anniversary was a great opportunity for an update.

Deep Ellum has been hailed through the decades as a blues and jazz hub, and later as a punk rock and metal destination, among other sounds. The nonprofit picked the acts among the submissions to represent the area's current sound while honoring its musical legacy.

The "sounds" representing the area include the funk-rock-soul of musician Stone Mecca, and the garage-punk of New Zealand transplants Labretta Suede & The Motel 6.

The Deep Ellum 100 group strives to provide funding and support for Deep Ellum artists, venues and other projects that fuel the spirit and atmosphere of the historic Dallas neighborhood. The nonprofit started during the early days of the pandemic in May 2020, with the goal of raising funds for businesses, employees and artists affected by the lockdowns.

Scott Tucker, lead singer of Aztec Milk Temple and Observer contributor, acted as media manager for the Sounds of Deep Ellum project. Tucker says that while he was not part of the foundation when it first came together, he "feels honored to help with something that makes people's lives better."

"When everything in Deep Ellum was shutting down and service industry workers, artists and musicians were struggling to keep going, Deep Ellum 100 raised money for grants that helped so many people out," Tucker says.

Madrini says music is an integral part of the community that should be preserved and uplifted through its evolution.

"The music that's come out of this neighborhood has influenced a lot of musicians, and we wanted to put the focus back on the music and do something joyful," Madrini says. "This has been a really, really fun project to work on, and what it's done is reconnected the whole neighborhood again." 
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Danny Gallagher has been a regular contributor to the Dallas Observer since 2014. He has also written features, essays and stories for MTV, the Chicago Tribune, Maxim, Cracked, Mental_Floss, The Week, CNET and The Onion AV Club.

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