Dallas Observer Music Awards

Musician and Radio Host Paul Slavens Looks Back on 25 Years of North Texas Music

Page 2 of 3

See also: A Love Letter to Gypsy Tea Room, Despite its Flaws

I was half scared of being mugged and half delirious with amazement that I was playing music on a real stage in a big city. I still have the copies of the Observer in which our first club listings appeared. Not articles about us. Not blurbs. Just the name listed in print in the listings. I have the first blurb printed about us, too. In fact, I have a box that has pretty much every Observer where I have been mentioned. Twenty-five years' worth. For some reason it just means something to me, or my ego, or whatever, to have my name appear in the Observer. Somehow, I have always considered the DO to be the paper of note concerning local rock music. I figured, a hundred years from now, this will be the source for what happened during my musical lifetime in North Texas, and I want my name to appear as much as possible. Narcissistic? Of course, but when you are a band trying to get noticed, it is a good thing to be noticed by someone who gets paid to notice bands. Back in 1988, when the first DOMAs were held, Clay McNear was the music editor. I can't honestly remember if I ever met him, though I probably did.

But the thing is, I didn't want to meet him. I wanted him to be unapproachable, passing some kind of ultimate righteous authoritative judgment on the music scene. The eye that saw all. That way , when he said nice things about me or my band, I could feel really good about it. You just held your breath every Thursday when you cracked the magazine open and found Street Beat, praying for good press, praying you didn't get bad press. In 1988, there were just a scant few places where a musician could hope to get some press, and for young bands the Observer was the place you wanted to get it. The big papers would swoop down and do a little blurb about a local band once they got established, every once in a while. But the Observer had a whole section on local music every week.

So when the Observer decided to hold their first DOMAs, it was a pretty big deal to those of us who were vying for attention in the Deep Ellum music scene. There are some pretty heavy hitters on the list of nominees for the first DOMAs: Brave Combo, New Bohemians, Reverend Horton Heat, Sara Hickman, Bugs Henderson, Rhett Miller, The Legendary Revelations. They all went on to great success. Most are still making music, 25 years later. There is a laundry list of long-gone bands that reads like a history of early Deep Ellum: The Trees, Shallow Reign, DDT, Three on a Hill, Café Noir, Loco Gringos, the Daylights, Rigor Mortis. And there in the New Music category (whatever that meant) was Ten Hands. My band. You cannot even imagine how excited I was. It was validation, handed down from on high by the Almighty Dallas Observer and its Omniscient Benevolent Music Editor. It was like a dream.

KEEP THE DALLAS OBSERVER FREE... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Paul Slavens
Contact: Paul Slavens