In an effort to help memorialize just a few of the great personalities we lost in the DFW music community in 2013, we talked to friends and collaborators. This year proved especially hard, and while this isn't a complete list, all of these people made profound contributions to the unique, passionate signature of our home scene. If you have any memories of these people or any others, feel free to leave them in the comments.
Big Moe from Wit's End On first glance, gentle giant "Big Moe" London looked like someone you didn't want to tangle with..a man who could fling you into the caddy-corner alley alongside Reno's if you disturbed the peace near the corner where he towered over the entrance to Wit's End. But he was a man with many friends and no pre-conceived notions of Deep Ellum folk. He had a reputation for giving out great hugs. London was hospitalized in September following a stroke and, after weeks in ICU, permanently left his post at Main & Crowdus, just days before a planned benefit for his medical expenses at Wit's End and Reno's. The benefit went on as planned, and raised roughly twice the contributions anticipated.
Ronald Shannon Jackson Ft. Worth native Ronald Shannon Jackson was a bona fide creative force in free jazz, forming Decoding Society locally (after studying jazz at NYU on a scholarship) and performing on more than 20 jazz albums. "He was a pure product of Texas who took his music to the world," says musician colleague Ken Shimamoto. "From the drum line and orchestra at I.M. Terrell High School, to the honky-tonks where he stocked his father's jukeboxes, to the jazz joints where he played his first gigs, he absorbed sound from his environment."
Jackson got to play among notables like Vernon Reid (Living Colour, Black Rock Coalition), Melvin Gibbs (Rollins Band, Marc Ribot) and on Ft. Worth saxman Ornette Coleman's freewheeling Dancing In Your Head LP. "He remained creative to the end, composing music and working on his concept of rhythm in the New York hospital where he'd gone for cancer treatment," Shimamoto continues. "He died with his children at his side."
Kidd Kraddick Talk about leaving behind a legacy. Kraddick's sudden passing left behind more than an echo of do-good. His nationally-syndicated radio show Kidd Kraddick In The Morning soldiers on, name intact -- an unprecedented move for morning radio shows reeling from the loss of a leader -- as does the profound humanitarian efforts of the charity he helmed, Kidd's Kidds. The crew at KKITM have done Kidd (and his kids) proud, and so far have done a pretty impressive job of keeping the show's massive inertia rolling.
Donovan Warren Donovan Warren was well-noted in the Ft. Worth metal scene, and managed to grow a reputation as a sturdy, ferocious frontman for the band 100 Proof Hatred, despite facing his share of demons and snags with the law. "His vocals just powered through you like thunder," his friend Derek Walker tells us. "His passion both on and off the stage was truly captivating. His charm and personality would light up the room. He was one of a kind, and a true rockstar in every sense of the word."
DJ Quick Chris In February of '13, incredibly gifted turntablist "DJ Quick Chris" Kelly ended a valiant fight with lymphoma-related illness. He left a legitimate local hip-hop legacy that began in a Plano school scene. He was pretty against the grain of culture there as an adherent to old school, four elements hip-hop. Despite the lack of clique acceptance in the 'burbs, Kelly and cohort DJ Molek Ular started the "Park Jams" series, attended by breakdancers and hip-hop culture buffs, and later he helped ignite label/organization Neva Dug Disco alongside talented curators like "Tape Mastah Steph" Gaulon, who now has the privilege of presiding over Kelly's crate of records. "His vinyl is amongst me, Buddha Fingers, family and other friends" Steph tells us, and he honors the memory of Kelly's incredible talents now using what he calls "gems from his collection that I consider secret weapons in my arsenal of wax. Chris knew what he was looking for and was driven by his passion for good music. He understood the origins of hip-hop and turntablism."
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Monte Aaron Krause Krause was management impresario to locals Buck Jones, and the first to manage Edie Brickell and The New Bohemians. Krause's artwork can be seen on the cover of Brickell's The Ultimate Collection, and his photos on Buck Jones' 1997 LP Shimmer. "He was always nice to me," says old friend Michael David Pyeatt. "I could always count on seeing him at shows by Pop Poppins, New Bohemians, Mike Roe & The 77s. A landmark in the music scene."
Summer Amshoff "I've never had a friend as true as she was, and I know I'm not alone in that," says Kaia Beggs. Amshoff's efforts to pretty-up some Dallas metal stages showed a lot of hard work and focus on her part, from organizing her friends into The Wicked Angels, a dance/modeling troupe seen on stage with bands like Rivethead and Hell Society. They performed as far away as New Mexico and also hit the big stage at Gexa Energy Pavillion annually for a while when the Rockstar Energy Mayhem Fest would stop there. "Summer made the time and the room to take care of every friend, stranger or creature she possibly could," Beggs says. "She offered me endless forgiveness, hilarious distractions and never judged me for a single thing."
Gary Deen Gary Deen was a performance artist and Americana musician from Shady Grove. Deen was a teen minister, and spent 30 years as a college professor at spots like Richardson and El Centro College.