“State of Music” forums in Dallas and Fort Worth this weekend

A full band on stage

Skinny Cooks captivated the audience at the Deep Ellum 100 live recording show at Trees celebrating 150 years of the neighborhood. Photo: Jessica Waffles

This Sunday night February 25 from 3PM – 6PM, Club Dada in Deep Ellum will host an essential event for Dallas’ music scene – the “State of Music Forum.” Spearheaded by Deep Ellum 100 , this event promises to be a beacon of hope and action amidst the challenges facing the city’s vibrant musical landscape.

Then, on Monday night February 26, North Texas continues its conversation about the music scene with the “Town Hall: State of Fort Worth Music,” hosted by Hear Fort Worth at Printed Threads from 6PM – 8PM. These back-to-back events signify a region-wide commitment to addressing the challenges and opportunities within the local music scene.

In the aftermath of the Dallas Entertainment Awards, DE100 co-founder Gianna Madrini reflected on the critical need for these supportive gatherings.

“We need to have events like this to put the focus back on the music and what’s happening in the music scene,” Madrini said. With music venues closing their doors and the landscape evolving rapidly, there’s an urgency to celebrate and support the local talent that defines Dallas’ musical identity.

The music forum presenter topics at the Dallas gathering cover a wide array of essential aspects for live music performers and venues. From understanding the significance of local press and getting noticed, as outlined by Scott Tucker (Aztec Milk Temple, The Orange), to exploring the evolution of the music business with speakers like Dezman Lehman (Dezi 5) and Steve Holt (I Love You).

Presenters like KNON deejay Jay Gavit (DJ Crash) highlight the importance of community radio, while Grammy award-winner Jah Born (Erykah Badu) shares insights on career growth. Dallas Observer music editor Eva Raggio will provide valuable perspectives on what the weekly looks for in covering the local music scene. The audience will have a chance to engage in questions with the speakers.

The forum also delves into the critical question of how to keep the music community healthy and thriving, with calls for support and collaboration from city leaders.

“An important part of it is that we need to get the attention of city leaders,” Madrini said. “We’re trying to get the city to pay more attention to what’s going on in Deep Ellum, especially in our live music scene. We want to reinvigorate our music community. We need to come together, exchange ideas, and maybe even create alliances to keep the music scene alive and healthy. We need people at the city level, politicians, to support the cultural identity of this city. There are many pressing issues they face, but this is important too. It’s important to us.”

A full band on stage

Kyle Morris took to swinging the mic around during The Unlikely Candidates set at Lola’s Fort Worth, which closed in December. Photo: Jessica Waffles

On the West side, Tom Martens from Hear Fort Worth sheds light on the significance of Monday’s town hall.

“We used to do this before the pandemic—a town hall with the community, letting them have a voice to express concerns and discuss how we can do better,” Martens explained. This open forum allows stakeholders to voice their concerns, propose solutions, and foster collaboration among musicians, venue owners, city officials, and music lovers alike.

The lineup of speakers underscores the event’s importance and breadth of expertise. From Brendon Anthony of the Texas Music Office to Mayor Mattie Parker and representatives from the city council and economic development, the town hall promises a diverse range of perspectives and insights.

Martens emphasizes the role of the Texas Music Office’s incubator program, which offers up to $100,000 in tax reimbursements for qualifying live music venues, as a crucial lifeline for struggling establishments.

“We want to make sure people are taking advantage of opportunities like this,” Martens said. “It’s created to protect music venues, where typically the margins they have are so slight. People are consuming differently than they used to.”

Mayor Parker will address the crowd first, followed by Anthony giving remarks from a state perspective from the governor’s office. Martens will discuss travel grants from the city and how Hear Fort Worth supports music. There will be a Q&A after the speakers present. The event is geared toward everyone that cares about music, from venue owners to musicians and live music fans. Everyone is welcome.

Hear Fort Worth hosts monthly mixers and quarterly music education gatherings. In the past, these events have featured topics like business management with Toadies accountant Rachel Lewis, local record label perspectives with State Fair Records, vinyl pressing education with Hand Drawn Records, and insight from Flaming Lips manager Scott Booker.

“We’re very fortunate to have support from our city leadership,” Martens expresses. “Mayor Mattie Parker is a big advocate of what we do. Our CEO Bob Jameson at Visit Fort Worth believes in what we’re doing for the music community. We want to be a city that supports music; not just one type of music, but all music. If you wanna be a part of something, you got to show up sometimes.”

As Deep Ellum and Fort Worth emerge from the pandemic’s shadow, these events represent a critical step towards revitalizing and reimagining their respective music scenes. By coming together, sharing ideas, and fostering collaboration, North Texas can ensure that its music scene continues to thrive and inspire for years to come.

Jessica Waffles is a freelance photographer/videographer and regular contributor to KXT. 
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