When we come to the end of a year and look back at all the great things that happened in Dallas music, there are some easy ways to measure it all: Concerts, albums, songs, even music videos. And in some ways, those are the most obvious indicators of a successful year or a healthy scene.
But that's only a part of the story. What's even more important, and what we'll probably all remember years and even decades later, are the people who help make it all happen and make all those events and recordings so memorable in the first place. That means a lot more than the musicians, too. So in honor of the fine folks who have done so much for Dallas music in 2014, here's our salute to 10 of them who made the scene great.
Arthur Peña's work extends to more than just music, but his contributions to the DIY community have been substantial. He runs Vice Palace, both a warehouse near Trinity Groves and a production contingent by the same name. Over the past year, he's easily run some of the best shows in Dallas. The punk and noise warehouse shows he held over the summer, including George Quartz's performance art triptych, especially proved that the Dallas underground is truly thriving. Peña drew it with ease in 2014. He also said that Vice Palace will continue to exist in various local spaces in 2015. Pablo Arauz
"Hustle, Tuaca, Respect." "Hustle, Don't Sleep, Market, Repeat." "Be a Badass, Make Everyone Love You, Do Great Things." Pick a combo of words for a T-shirt and Gavin Mulloy can wear it with zero irony. The hardest working man in Deep Ellum went from being the hardest working man on Greenville Ave. to the man who everyone dreads/loves to do shots with in the historic Dallas entertainment neighborhood (and specifically Trees). And, while that's cool, we can't just pay attention to his promo work while overlooking all the good the man does. No one works harder to promote charity events, or goes as out of their way to shine a light on worthy causes. Yeah, Gavin can get you into a show, but more importantly, Gavin can make good things happen. Jaime-Paul Falcon
There are many bars in Dallas that also host shows on the side, but few establish themselves as true music venues. Jessica Luther has helped to turn Double Wide from a dive bar with a side stage to a go-to spot to see great local and national bands. The list of acts she's booked at Double Wide this year is daunting. Hats off to anyone who can book such legendary acts as High on Fire and Roky Erickson within the same year, much less on the same lineup. Andrew Hawkins
Over four years ago, Martinez decided to turn the time she could've spent indulging in a clichéd Bridget Jones post-breakup sorrow into a great cause. Unsatisfied with the amount of local talent that wasn't getting proper recognition, she created a Facebook page promoting Dallas music she believed people should've been hearing about. Making an aggressive use of her marketing background, the page quickly picked up thousands of followers. That led to the creation of Deep Dallas, a community organization dedicated to effectively promoting local musicians. The non-monetized entity provides musicians with volunteer photographers as well as booking. Martinez is also involved in co-organizing and curating entertainment for Park(ing) Day Dallas and several other major Dallas events. Follow the sound of music at any time at any venue, and sure enough you'll find Martinez there, promoting away thanklessly. So don't forget to thank her. Eva Raggio
Don't let the mustache fool you: John Iskander is as good a guy as they come. His Parade of Flesh bookings set a high bar for Dallas shows and show a keen eye for young, up-and-coming talent. His knack for putting on a good show may have been clearest with a pair of Red Bull Sound Select shows: JEFF the Brotherhood at Club Dada (on Iskander's birthday, coincidentally) and the insane Anamanaguchi Yearender at Trees, both possibly the best of the year for the series. But beneath that prickly exterior, Iskander's also watching out for his friends, witness the In the Garage Alliance that he started up recently with Greg Strong. Jeff Gage
One of the fastest-growing powers in the Texas music community is Transmission Entertainment. Like any growing empire, Transmission, having conquered most of Austin, has set their sights on Dallas next. Leading the campaign for them is Kris Youmans, former boss of the now Transmission-annexed Tactics Productions, who is leading the charge to bring Transmission's dynamic and exciting booking strategies to Dallas. Going into 2015, Youmans' booking prowess, now backed by the Transmission machine, will be put on full display as he looks to bring premier and acclaimed tours to Dallas. This year the Three Links co-owner was responsible for such huge events as Sturgill Simpson's double-feature at Club Dada and Charli XCX at Trees. James Khubiar
Lee Escobedo and Jesse Porter
Lee Escobedo and Jesse Porter are the L and the J in An LBJ Experience, a new local music series that combines music from different genres. LBJ has a showcase every second and fourth Wednesday at Crown & Harp as well as a series called Artist 2 Artist, both aiming to bring different bands and fans together. Escobedo (who's also editor at THRWD Magazine) and Porter are extremely passionate about hip hop, but they want to break down barriers and cross-pollinate the local music scene altogether. These young professionals are a breath of fresh air, infectiously happy to live in Dallas and enthusiastic about local talent. Jeremy Hallock
Moody Fuqua, talent-buyer and general manager, is the man with the plan at Crown & Harp. In 2014, Fuqua aggressively pushed the dingy Greenville bar to forefronts it hadn't been before. He books music from all genres, so well that all the constituents of those genres proudly call Crown & Harp a home. He pushed for renovations that transformed the club's image from dive to destination. At the end of 2014, the bar is now an established stronghold for rap, electronic, noise, industrial and post-punk shows. Who knows what Fuqua has in store for 2015? All you can bet on is that the gears are turning right now. JK
Red Bull Sound Select has proved to be one of the most integral parts of Dallas's music scene in 2014. It's a hell of a deal, getting to see great artists bubbling on the cusp of stardom from around the country on the same stage as our brightest homegrown stars for a dirt cheap price. Omar Lozano, a marketer for Red Bull, has had his hand in culture events (read: the cool shit) in the the Dallas scene. So every time Red Bull has a listening session for a local artist, a Sound Select, or one of our folks tours with Run the Jewels or plays at Bonnaroo, Lozano's part of the brains behind it and we're thankful for that. H. Drew Blackburn
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
Stefan González has done much to grow Dallas' experimental music and jazz scenes over the past year. His drumming displayed in Unconscious Collective, Orgullo Primitivo and Yells at Eels would be more than enough reason to include him on this list, but he's also done much to draw local and international touring musicians together in unexpected ways. Anyone who's experienced Outward Bound Mixtape Sessions, his weekly curated music lineup at Crown & Harp, or the shows he's booked at spaces like the Black Lodge, can vouch for the true value of González's contributions to Dallas music. AH
DC9 AT NIGHT'S GREATEST HITS
50 Signs You've Been Partying Too Long in Denton Florida Georgia Line Danced on the Grave of Country at Gexa on Saturday What Your Favorite North Texas Band Says About You Does Dallas Want Its Own Austin City Limits? The Best Places in Dallas to Go When You're Stoned