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Crown & Harp Opens a New Chapter Under the Leadership of Lily Taylor

It’s exciting to have Moody Fuqua working as a talent buyer in Deep Ellum with the recent rebranding of RBC. His eclectic lineups and commitment to highlighting local hip-hop and electronic music are already a breath of fresh air in the neighborhood. But what about Crown & Harp on lower Greenville? As general manager, Fuqua turned the place into an important cultural melting pot. All sorts of different creative types crowded inside to see a wild assortment of hip-hop artists, DJs and bands on two stages.

Under Fuqua’s leadership, Crown & Harp was a venue for artists to experiment and interact. The results were fascinating. We saw great collaborations, bills put together by new promoters and great new acts debuting. Fuqua left big shoes to fill. But Crown & Harp’s new talent buyer, Lily Taylor, is the perfect choice to keep the magic alive. She played her first Dallas show at Crown & Harp almost exactly two years ago. Taylor is one of the strongest connectors of the music and art scenes, a brilliant songwriter with an angelic voice and she has a long history of putting unique shows together in Dallas and several other cities.

Fuqua will be helping with the transition. “Anything Lily needs,” he says. “She’s got my number, she’s my friend, and I want to be involved as much as she’d like me to be.” Taylor was the first person that came to mind when it came to passing the torch. “She’s so versatile,” Fuqua continues. “I like to book a little bit of everything and she plays and performs with a little bit of everything. She’s the perfect fit. I know her track record as far as putting shows together — she’s done a bunch at Crown & Harp.”

Fuqua thinks Crown & Harp may be even better with Taylor and looks forward to spending time there when he isn’t busy at RBC. “The scene needs more women in it,” Fuqua says, frankly. “There are a lot of talented women out there.” Taylor was at Crown & Harp one night when Fuqua told her about RBC. She immediately asked what would become of Crown & Harp. “I didn’t want the local programming to be cut off,” Taylor says. Fuqua urged her to consider the position.

It was a tough choice, but she decided to devote herself to it. The infrastructure of a bar, a security guard, insurance, PA systems and even someone to run the sound is a relief after so many DIY shows. But it’s bittersweet. “I just won’t have time to do as many DIY shows as I have been,” Taylor says. She will miss the total freedom, but admits that it is easier to draw people to a regular spot.

Regular showcases like Stefan González’s Outward Bound Mixtape Sessions and Blue, the Misfit’s Warclub Wednesdays have migrated to RBC. But Meetings Along the Edge and Joel Salazar’s Thursday night shows will remain at Crown & Harp. Taylor has put on numerous shows in both venues and DIY sessions, including #TexasNoise, a series devoted to experimental music with harsh noise tendencies.
“I’m really excited!” Taylor says. “But this will be a major challenge for me. I know I can do it, I just have to get into the groove.” With a background primarily in avant-garde music, she is preparing to adapt to the demands of booking for a business. Taylor is working on a strategy to find a balance between music that fascinates her and what will keep bringing a diverse crowd into the venue.

Taylor just took over as talent buyer Wednesday night. She called friends and quickly put together a lineup for tonight that will include a short set from her. “It’s a situation where there have been established weekly events and we’re going to try something new,” she says. She would like to make the shows more theatrical, adding performance art, poetry and visual components when appropriate. “That’s going to take a little time. It’s a natural thing.”

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But Taylor is already setting up regular spots including a dance party with DJ John Stewart scheduled for every second and fourth Sunday, and a monthly residency with Analog X and Mike B upstairs every other Thursday. She will also be testing out a weekly showcase on Mondays this month called Harper’s Revue, which will feature an eclectic mix of new music from both local and touring acts.

Taylor sees Crown & Harp as a reflection of Dallas. “People in Dallas love so many different things,” she says. This isn’t a music scene deeply divided by punk, hip-hop and metal, full of people walking around looking like the genre they listen to. “Everything is really melted together. It makes me really happy. Dallas operates on its own rhythm. It’s fun to see people wanting to feel comfortable doing lots of different things.”

Crown & Harp is an island of music culture in an area where most people come to shop, eat and drink. With Taylor as talent buyer, the place is in good hands. It may even get better. “I’m learning how to surf,” Taylor says, and laughs. “I’m standing on the board and riding these waves.”

Brian Tomerlin, Derek Rogers, Black Taffy and Lily Taylor will perform at 9 p.m. tonight, Friday, January 8, at Crown & Harp, 1914 Greenville Ave., no cover.

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