Mokah Music Summit: The Morning After

Last night was the Mokah Music Summit and Showcase Dinner where the peeps over at Live @ Mokah invited a bunch of media folk, club owners, artists, record label guys and others to talk about the Dallas music scene and its problems.

So, basically, it was Pandora’s Box.

With free dinner and booze, Mokah knew what it took to get us there and it worked. Writers Cindy Chaffin (The Fine Line), Hunter Hawk, Mike Daniel (both DMN) and Erin Rice (Pegasus News) were there. Venue owners Mike Snider (AllGood Café) and the elusive Russell Hobbs (The Door) were in attendance. Hal Samples, Frank Campagna, Ken Albrecht, Chris Holt, Jayson Bales and so on were all on hand to start the dialogue of what is going on with local Dallas music. Nebulous much? Just a tad.

After Executive Director Tony Fundaro opened the meeting, he left it to Chaffin and Daniel to moderate. Soon after, we were going around the room introducing ourselves and naming one positive and one negative thought on the scene. In a nutshell, here’s what I found out.

- The media doesn’t cover Deep Ellum in a positive light.

- Dallas is a cover band city, and that’s where the money is.

- Deep Ellum needs streetlights.

- There is a lack of media coverage on the local scene. And that goes for you too, radio stations.

- We need more screamo band coverage.

- A marketing team for Deep Ellum proper could be in the works as by show of hands the people interested in working on it.

- Bands and musicians need to collaborate with popular venues, restaurants and entities to “bring their music” to the people.

All were very good points to the persons making them and sparked lots of conversation. Even when the Observer was taking major hits of criticism, the concern for what will become of Dallas a music center was genuinely impassioned. One person thinks more national booking agents will help local bands. Another feels we should have our own big-ass music festival a la Austin City Limits held at Fair Park. The question of music needing to be centralized or not was an issue. Ideas were flowing and heated exchanges were always on the cusp but then the conversation dwindled into Deep Ellum and only Deep Ellum.

Why is the crime in Deep Ellum always reported? Why not elsewhere? Why are the bigger venues closing? How come parents are scared to let their kids come down here? These and many more questions and thoughts ultimately surrounded and in a sense suffocated the meeting. There was a slight frustration with the mediators and the hosts who were hoping to discuss a bigger picture here. Maybe that will happen at the next meeting.

And well, that was about it. For the better part, it was constructive in getting ideas out there that are issues to those involved, and I believe that’s what Mokah and the Foundation and ultimately everyone wants to get out. Is it more bitching and less action? People might see it that way, but I guess if there was no bitching, then nothing would be happening. And that’s the last thing Mokah wants or anyone else there. I think if a discussion is needed regarding the state of Dallas music, we should probably determine what that state is. Is it dying, thriving, moving away? Once that is determined, if at all possible, then we can ask what needs need to be met. (Dang, I so wish I thought of that at the meeting.)

Props to Mokah Operating Director Mike Biggs for organizing the event and offering us a friggin’ delicious dinner from Daddy Jacks. I totally would have made out with a doggy bag if I could.

And personally, I can’t go without saying, damn, Chris Holt has some nice hair. -- Rich Lopez

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