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Arthur Stephens Talks Hitting Vanilla Ice's Escalade, Chatting With Iggy Pop About Gardening

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For roughly 25 years, Arthur Stephens has been running Dallas' ASA Audio. Historically, he's a familiar face amongst Deep Ellum's gifted sound-crafters: He mixed at Club Clearview until 2007, then it was on to the sorely-missed Deep Ellum Live, formerly located just a block behind The Dancing Marlin and Angry Dog.

He's the kind of guy you want to sit next to at the bar while he tells his war stories, but he's no relic. Stephens is a part of the present-day arts community as well, he just operates more as a business owner and elder statesman of live music in DFW.

Before we get into recalling local music memories, let's talk about Vanilla Ice's damaged Escalade. Is Vanilla Ice local? Is he Dallas or Miami? Anyway, there was a night when Luke, my stage hand, was driving the Bobtail and backed into Vanilla Ice's Escalade and did a number on it. Thankfully, he was cool about it.

I'm gathering that's not all you have. You've been at this a long time. I've seen things you people wouldn't believe: The Sex Pistols at the Longhorn, Tammy Wynette singing "Stand By Your Man," chatting with Iggy Pop about gardening. All those moments will be lost in time like tears in the rain. Oh, sorry. I'm quoting Rutger Hauer. My finest moment could well have been the funniest. I was in the seaport town of Veracruz, Mexico, at the Castle of San Juan mixing monitors for Andrea Bocelli with the Mexico City Orchestra It was in the courtyard there and was telecast "live and world wide." The president of Mexico and numerous international dignitaries were in attendance, the port authority had shut down shipping to eliminate any noise. As you would expect, someone didn't get the memo and 20 minutes into the concert a tanker blasted his horn, momentarily drowning everything out. It was great to see Andrea cracking up.

The Club Clearview and Deep Ellum Live years for you were also especially memorable. Many great memories happened at Clearview, such as mixing Green Day's first Dallas appearance, mixing Pixies, Sonic Youth... having drinks and conversation with Dr. Timothy Leary. I could go on. Another not-so-funny memorable moment came when a good friend asked me to put his wife on the list at Deep Ellum Live. When he came later that night to pick her up, I had to explain that she got on the bus and left with the Neurotic Outsiders. Talk about awkward.

I ask this question all too often in this column, but I can't help but think you'd make a good candidate for mayor of the DFW music community. Do you agree? As mayor of the music scene, I would make showtimes in clubs earlier... who wants to wait until 11:30 pm to see the headliner? I would like to add that because of all the great musicians, club owners, promoters, music supporters and others I've met and worked with here in Dallas and Ft. Worth, it gives me a great sense of pride when someone asks me, "What do I do?," and I tell them I work in the "music business."

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