People Issue

Scott Beggs Is Betting Big on Live Music in Deep Ellum

In this week's Dallas Observer we profile 20 of the metro area's most interesting characters, with new portraits of each from local photographer Can Turkyilmaz. See the entire Dallas Observer People Issue here.

Scott Beggs has always been a gambler, so he knows that every time you sit down at a table to play, there's a battle to be won, odds to be beaten. The same goes for his job as a concert booker. He's done it for 20 years, and he's played the odds right more often than not. A naturally competitive person, he lives for landing the biggest bands and beating his rival bookers.

But gambling also means taking risks. Over the years, Beggs has learned to minimize those risks. He had to -- not only because it's good business, but also for the sake of his own well-being. Gambling can mean big payoffs, but it requires a degree of humility. You play the hand you're given, not the one you wish you had.

If you've been to many concerts in Deep Ellum, you almost surely have seen Beggs, usually with his wife, Kaia, at his side. Tall with big graying mutton chops, tattoos down his arms and a deep, booming voice, he's hard to miss. In the past year and a half he's spent most of his time at Three Links, the venue he opened up with his business partners, Kris Youmans and Oliver Peck, in spring 2013. It was a risk, but a calculated one.

Beggs got his start as an intern at Trees in the mid 1990s and fought his way to the top of the heap with Gyspsy Tea Room by the early 2000s. But he burned himself out -- one too many battles fought, one too many nights without sleep. After a brief spell running his own business, Beggs stepped back and spent a year playing poker. It was then that he learned to love the game, not just winning it.

So when his bosses at La Grange closed that club in fall 2012, Beggs saw it for the opportunity that it was. Barely four months later, Three Links opened. Working together with the other venues and promoters in the neighborhood, the club has thrived, and its emergence has coincided with Deep Ellum's latest upswing. When all the players pull in the same direction, the whole team wins.

The music business has given Beggs a lot: He's put his daughter through college and spent almost every day of his adult life doing what he loves, watching bands in the company of good friends. He's still a gambler; booking bands is always a risk. Every person who walks through the door is a variable. But today his focus is on bringing bands to people before they've broken big, when there may only be 30 people in the room. It's not big business, but that's what makes the game worth playing.

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Jeff Gage
Contact: Jeff Gage