In a ceremony on Wednesday morning attended by Mayor Eric Johnson, Dallas received its official designation as a music-friendly city, joining a list of other music-friendly Texas cities such as Arlington, Fort Worth, Austin and Denton. Awarded by the Texas Music Office, the certification is more than just an "everybody gets a trophy” decoration; the program exists to foster, attract and support music in cities across the state.
The work involved in becoming certified mirrors the goal of the program, which is to become a central clearinghouse for all things music-related — especially when event organizers need a sympathetic ear at City Hall. Various parties from government, venue owners, musicians, promoters and local leaders had to pull together to obtain the certification, which is only granted to cities that meet certain criteria through a multi-step process that includes collaborating with music education programs, creating an advisory board and establishing a liaison with city government.
From left: David Small, Crystal Perry, Keite Young, Arlington Jones and Kessler Theater owner Edwin Cabaniss.
Though it sounds like there might be an interesting story or two behind that effort, Tami Thomsen, one of the principal organizers spearheading the effort, deadpanned, “There isn’t any backstory; we’re just getting started."
Brendon Anthony, director of the Texas Music Office, noted during the ceremony that contentious issues such as the proposed noise ordinance in Deep Ellum are the kinds of problems that the Texas Music Office will be able to help with going forward. He later told the Observer
they have case studies and data from a number of other cities both in and out of the state that can lead to quicker and better resolutions by showing what has worked, or not, in other areas to support local music industries.
Brendon Anthony, director of the Texas Music Office with Edwin Cabaniss (left).
After the ceremony, local music industry movers and shakers Edwin Cabaniss and Thomsen were already in a spirited, collaborative spitballing session with musicians Keite Young, who performed at the ceremony, and Arlington Jones. Cabaniss, who owns the Kessler and is working to purchase and restore the historic Longhorn Ballroom, noted that overcoming planning, zoning and permitting issues is a major hurdle in any historic reconstruction project and building relationships with the city is crucial, so a music-focused partnership with local leaders can only help.
Those revived relationships for Cabaniss may not extend to inviting the Dallas mayor to play a gig at the Kessler, but the mayor did reveal that one of his COVID self-improvement projects was getting back in touch with his inner guitar player. Like Cabaniss' tight-lipped plans for the Longhorn, Mayor Johnson said he wasn’t quite ready to release any tour dates. He is committed to help build and support the Dallas music community, however, and like Cabaniss noted, that can only help.
Mayor Eric Johnson and Matt Hillyer of Eleven Hundred Springs.