Wanz Dover is a veteran musician, producer and DJ in Dallas, and a regular contributor to the Dallas Observer. He hosts his own residencies at venues like Double Wide, Midnight Rambler and Off The Record.
Dallas is overflowing with DJ residencies. Musical curators, turntablists and mixologists representing a wide number of genres have happy homes in venues across the city. There's techno, hip-hop, funk, soul, post-punk, disco and even niche genres like Northern soul. Every night of the week, there's somewhere to go to hear selectors of deep (or, if you prefer, not-so-deep) cuts in an era where anyone with an iTunes playlist can pretend to be a DJ.
There are a plenty of residencies being held down by DJs that still do it the hard way, who are disciples of the often-undervalued craft of making people happy with music, and these 10 are the best in Dallas. The list was compiled based on a mix of longevity, consistency and popularity.
10. New Math Mondays
Off the Record, every Monday
House vet JT Donaldson holds down a night of underground sounds. Touching on house, disco, funk, soul and everything in, between Donaldson offers a chance to catch a world-class DJ that is mostly associated with house push the envelope. He explores the close cousins and ancestors of four-four funk. He occasionally brings in guest DJs.
Disco's Revenge has been an ongoing concern helmed by Daishiki Jones for the past six years. Over that time, Jones has gone through a few co-residents and a few venues, but has settled on the third Saturday of every month at Crown & Harp for the past few years. Currently, he's joined by scene vet Rick Simpson and the very prolific house producer, DJ and Texas Recordings Underground (TRU) label boss Gavin Guthrie. Disco's Revenge is a celebration of vinyl by way of classic house with touches of Detroit-friendly techno from some of the deepest crate diggers from the local house scene. The collective depth of knowledge and willingness to push the envelope of floor-funky house music is a rare treat.
1914 Greenville Ave., Dallas, thecrownandharp.com
8. The Smoke!
Various venues, once a month
The Smoke! is the longest-running residency on this list. They are about to celebrate their 13th anniversary. More than just a soul night, The Smoke! exist in the very micro-niche arena of Northern soul — American soul that was made popular in the northern England in the '60s and inspired generations of music in the U.K. Northern soul is notorious for playing host to some of the most expensive and rarest records on Discogs. To have a long-running residency in Dallas that specializes in these hard-to-find soul nuggets is not to be taken for granted. A fine night to put on you finest duds and shake your shoes to some classic soul nuggets.
7. The Lowdown
Red Light Lounge, every Thursday
The crew of DJ young bloods known as The Guild bring their anything-goes attitude to Red Light Lounge every Thursday. Trip-hop, bass music, techno, house and even the occasional jungle tune; nothing is off limits here. The Guild has a deep roster, so you are never quite sure which of them will be in support slots. They have a knack for doing strange theme parties, like this week’s “Princess Party.” On other weeks they will feature some of Dallas' best, brightest and vetted DJs and producers in headline slots.
Six years in and still bumping and grinding, Big Bang is a staple of hip-hop nights. When it started, it was musically a bit more all over the map, but has settled into a grand celebration of all things rooted in hip-hop and R&B with dashes of Latin and reggae. DJ Sober has one of the longest track records of successful residencies in Dallas, stretching back to his days with The Party. A typically well-attended night at his Beauty Bar residency tends to feel more like a house party than a uptight club.
1924 N. Henderson Ave., Dallas, thebeautybar.com
5. Nothing But Techno
Crown & Harp, every other Thursday
Curated by Bon Spengler, Nothing But Techno says it all in the name. Focusing primarily on the minimal and dub sides of techno every other Thursday, you are pretty much guaranteed to get a solid dose of the deeper side of dance music. Often mixing up the lineup with residents and regional guests, these are sounds that are more often available in cities on either coast, Denver, Chicago or Detroit. The fact that a city like this can have a stable and consistent techno residency is perhaps a greater sign of the changing times. Techno will always have a foot in the underground, but going by the growing number of techno DJs, producers and residencies in town, there may be a techno reckoning on the horizon in the Big D.
DJ Red Eye has been in the DJ game longer than the vast majority of active DJs in the Dallas scene. He lives it. He breathes it. It is his full-time concern. On Friday nights at Beauty Bar, he taps into that deep well of knowledge that comes with his veteran status to reach, as Red Eye puts it, “deeper, sexier house with extra Afro and Latin flavors thrown in. Lots more vocals with disco and some post-disco R&B.” It's a proto-house paradise garage vibe for a Friday on Henderson Ave. You can get a schooling on the deeper roots of house and shake your feet to soulful beats at the same time.
Dallas has a remarkable funk 45 cratedigger scene, much better than many other big cities. It's something that's probably taken for granted due to the large number of cratedigger-centric soul nights in Dallas, but it's the envy to many traveling music fans passing through Dallas. From 4 to 8 p.m. every Saturday afternoon, a rotating cast of some of the cities deepest diggers of '60s and '70s soul, funk and foot-stomping R&B serenades Lower Greenville with the classic sounds of vintage vinyl. Rotating residents Gabriel Mendoza, Wild in the Streets and Jeff Paul are among the most consistent faces curating a boutique selection of classic soul cuts.
On the third Friday of every month, house goes down at Crown & Harp. Deep Inside has been taking place for going on three years, running one of the most consistent nights of Chicago-vibed house music you can get in the city. It's held down by Chicago native DJ Boxx and featuring a cream-of-the-crop list of house selectors from Dallas and elsewhere. They are taking a month off this month to celebrate their third anniversary, which will take place at RBC this Saturday. That extra space will be needed, since they are hosting Chicago house legend Paul Johnson as their special guest.
Going for nine years strong, TWO:TONE is one of the longer-running DJ residencies on this list. They showcase some of the best drum and bass DJs in the region and host a who's-who of touring acts from all over the world. In an era where you don’t hear quite as much about drum and bass in music media, TWO:TONE's longevity and popularity is a testament to the deep the roots of this genre.
2724 Elm St., Dallas, witsenddeepellum.com
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