Deep Ellum Blues: How Come These Influential Dallas Acts Don't Have Deep Ellum Murals?

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Deep Ellum is in many ways the music capital of Dallas. Yes, the area has had its ups and downs. No, it hasn't always been the center of the music scene, especially with Denton consistently pumping out artists at a rapid rate.

But, fact is, without a doubt, Deep Ellum has for over a century now been a stomping ground for emerging artists. And those are just the locals. National and international acts are constantly swing through the Dallas neighborhood, and every night of the week, there's something to see there, whether it's a big, super group at a large venue like Trees or a small acoustic set from some local dude at All Good Café.

For years now, local, visual artists have been paying tribute to the music-centric neighborhood by painting large murals of influential characters on the sides of various brick buildings.

The murals are in many ways Dallas' music hall of fame. Walking around Elm Street alone, one can catch glimpses of Erykah Badu, Lisa Loeb, The Reverend Horton Heat, Rhett Miller and on the brick walls of the region. There are even some newer artists on there, too, like The O's, who got their own mural painted in 2009, or Madison King, who just had her first mural painted last month.

Hey, we're happy for most of the parties involved. But, fact is, we here at DC9 feel like there are plenty of important figures that have been left out, and who deserve murals of their own. After the jump, we offer up some candidates for future Deep Ellum enshrinement. Some of them have had murals in the past that have been painted over -- but they're artists that, we think, deserve a return. Other have never been honored in this capacity. In the comments below, let us know what you think of our nominations. And tell us: Who else do you think deserves a coveted Deep Ellum mural?

  • There were, at one point, murals of Blues legends Robert Johnson, Lead Belly and Blind Lemon Jefferson. No more, unfortunately. Shame, too: These three Deep Ellum blues legends inspired many musicians, and are true icons from Deep Ellum earliest blues days. Lead Belly and Jefferson wrote a number of songs about the city, including "Ella Speed" and the infamous "Deep Ellum Blues."

  • Tim DeLaughter is a Dallas icon. He got his start in 1990 by forming Tripping Daisy, who played some of their first-ever gigs in Deep Ellum. In the years since, he's founded two other bands -- The Polyphonic Spree and, just recently, Preteen Zenith. He's also formed his own record label, Good Records Recordings, and his Good Records record store, now Lower Greenville, got its start on Good-Latimer Expressway. So, where is his effing mural? Good question.

  • Sarah Jaffe performed out live for the first time during an open mic night at Club Dada. Her debut album, Even Born Again, is a force to be reckoned with, earning shout-outs from the likes of Rolling Stone and being sold at Starbucks locations around the country. (You've totally made it if your record is sold at Starbucks, right?) Here's something else she's accomplished of note: With 11 Dallas Observer Music Awards to her name, she's already one of the most decorated DOMA winners in history. More interesting, perhaps, is that she's also undefeated in our reader-voted music awards, having never lost an award in any category in which she's ever been nominated.

  • The Toadies may technically be from Fort Worth, but they definitely got their start playing shows in Deep Ellum. Is there a more iconic place to catch these guys than in Trees?

  • Jeff Liles and Russell Hobbs deserve some credit for helping Deep Ellum's '80s and '90s revitalization, using their Theatre Gallery venue to help spearhead a return-to-music for the then-downtrodden neighborhood. Currently, Hobbs owns and runs The Prophet Bar and various The Door Clubs throughout the region. Liles serves as the artistic director for the Kessler Theater in Oak Cliff.

  • He may not be from Dallas, but whenever we've interviewed Wayne Coyne here at DC9, he goes on and on and on, telling us about how his band, The Flaming Lips, got their big break playing shows in Deep Ellum when they couldn't score gigs in their native Oklahoma.

  • Pantera's Vinnie Paul Abbott and Dimebag Darrell Abbott are Arlington natives, sure. But these metal legends too got their start playing Deep Ellum.

  • We're pretty sure Dorrough has never played Deep Ellum. But he's from Dallas, and his catchy "Ice Cream Paint Job" song went platinum, so... maybe?

  • Before she married Paul Simon, Oak Cliff native and Booker T. Washington High School graduate Edie Brickell, famous for such late-'80s songs as "What I Am" and "Circle" got famous with her band The New Bohemians thanks to their legendary Club Dada shows.

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21 comments
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Jim Suhler
Jim Suhler

Great idea and Frank Campagna is just the man to do it.

Noah W. Bailey
Noah W. Bailey

How about a mural of Kurt Cobain getting beat up by the bouncer at Trees?

Kelly D
Kelly D

Speaking of Tripping Daisy an the Toadies, I'd love to see a mural that hghlighted that kick-ass era of the mid-1990's. Toadies, Doosu, Hagfish, Funland, etc...It would be a big mural, but hey, a guy can dream can't he?  

Scottmankoff
Scottmankoff

I think murals of Tim DeLaughter, Sarah Jaffe, The Toadies, Jeff Liles, Russell Hobbs, Vinnie and Dime, et all in this article are GREAT IDEAS for Deep Ellum and I know Frank can do them all.  He's the Godfather of Deep Ellum and the best Mural Artist for the job.  Jimmy's right too Micheal Nesmith has been around as long as The Beatles yet he still to this day doesn't get the credit he deserves ...

Frank
Frank

Thank you for understanding Chris. I absolutely meant no disrespect to Sara Jaffe, but sometimes things aren't as easy as they should be. Your list is indeed incredible, especially Alex Moore who was around as recently as the 1980's. I still have no idea what Hipster Politics are but I do subscribe to friends looking after friends and working with one another towards higher goals.

I recently did an interview with Ayo for this very blog that is due out soon, so in order to avoid over exposure, I'll shut up for now and get criticized for that later... lol!. Peace!

Winnie
Winnie

I think Frank Campagna could do all the murals... Remember all those weekly murals he used to do for Gypsy Tea Room?

Frank
Frank

Hipster Politics - WTF? Try walkin in my shoes Chris. Better yet, feel free to discuss this w/ me yet face to face, over a beer, and I'll fill you in on the big picture but not in a public forum.

Steve Floyd
Steve Floyd

See, that's where I disagree with the whole "insider" approach. These are community works, not a commercial interest. Community projects and other public information should be open and democratic by their very nature. That's the whole point!

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

Frank, Let me apologize concerning my comments earlier. I understand w/ artists how it is concerning their potential subjects, as I have quite a few friends who are painters, sculptors  ect.. I dont know the circumstances behind your decision, but I was wrong in saying that, all I ask is your forgiveness.

Let me ask frank, have you guys considered putting up older musicians that are from Dallas(Meat Loaf, Rocky Hill, Whistlin' Alex Moore, Trini Lopez) or just people that have been in Ellum?? Id love to see more people of that range included in the consideration process..

BTW, heres an amazing list of musicians who are/were from Dallas:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C...

KeatonTycer
KeatonTycer

Madison King isn't on this list Chris. Have you yet to listen to even one of her tracks?? what the hell are you doing?? is it your job to just say inflammatory things, be roasted for it, beg for forgiveness and then completely neglect following up on why you were wrong?? Once again, Madi King. Her music is vulnerable, honest and eloquent. rockabilly and pop. But it doesnt take long to realize that there is some honest and exquisite pain in her music that belies her years. She is a genuine talent. Not manufactured. Do yourself a favor and listen. I bet you can't listen just once

Jolene
Jolene

What happens when they get their murals? Should we put them down for their success because they're not like some other musician that we've heard of? Or should we as a community support our fellow human beings and treat them like we want to be treated?

Frank
Frank

I appreciate you at DC 9 taking note of our ongoing activities but here are a few you missed. A more recent picture of Edie Brickell is painted on the side of Kettle Art and the New Bo's are represented in the 'Greetings from Deep Ellum' mural on Good Latimer, Tim DeLaughter was originally on the side of Kettle as well.. Dimebag and Leadbelly are both currently on the side of the Elm Street Bar.

Sarah Jaffe was originally intended for where the Madison King mural is but after many concerns of what reference material I was going to work with,I lost interest, I wanted to have fun collaborating w/ an artist and that's when Ms King came to mind. The concept was a win / win / win situation w/ myself, videographer Rene Coranado and a musician of my choice. Much like the newly formed O's were when I painted them, I believe when you hear Madison's new product, due out July 30th, you'll be a believer too.

Overall, my personal goal is not to paint them all but to insure quality artwork and participating artists get fair wages as well as documentation like this 2007 musician / muralist project. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

So basically frank, you're subscribing to Hipster Politics(i.e. what I think is cool is the only thing that matters). Whos heard of madison king? noone that I know of. I know you've done quite a bit for the neighborhood down here and I respect that, but to cut out sarah jaffe is an outright disservice to a great artist whos not only done well for herself, but it's quite disrespectful to her as a person when you say things like "I Lost Interest".

KeatonTycer
KeatonTycer

Chris, in a few years or maybe even sooner a whole lot of people will know the name Madison King and the question as to whether she deserves to have a mural will be an afterthought. The mural should be bigger. She is a part of the music community in Dallas and I dont know anyone that has met and/or listened to her perform that doesnt love her. Listen to her music first before you decide that she doesnt deserve it because you or no one "that you know of" knows her music. She is the real deal and an amazing person that just happens to be amazingly talented. Real talent has nothing to do with notoriety. I myself am an artist and I can tell you that there arent too many people that know who the hell I am but that doesnt diminish the emotional impact that my work could have on anyone that views it. The same applies to Madison King.

Jolene
Jolene

I've heard of Madison King. I love her music.

MadisonKing
MadisonKing

Hi Chris!  I'm Madison King.  It's really nice to meet you!  Glad we took care of that problem.  Frank, I'm trying to think of an example of what 'hipster politics' might be.... oh wait - the Dallas Observer Music Awards!  They are, in my opinion, an incredible example of community in the local music scene.  Frank has spent years of work and dedication to become revered enough to be able to paint whoever the hell he wants to on a wall, and I was and am honored to be there.  It's not your damn living room wall after all - and by the way, the people who could consider it their 'metaphorical living room wall' were there supporting Frank, Renee and myself.  It was a truly great day for all those who chose to enjoy, rather than immediately criticize it.  Thanks again, Frank, and all those who have been so loving and supportive on the eve of my debut release!

Jimmy Holcomb
Jimmy Holcomb

Ah, and he does indeed have nothing to do with Deep Ellum. Never mind.

I'll learn to fully read articles someday.

Jimmy Holcomb
Jimmy Holcomb

MIchael Nesmith. Outsold the Beatles in 1966-67 in The Monkees. Long solo career. Started his own indie record company long before most people came up with the idea (mid-70s). Invented the concept of a music video channel in 1980 and sold it to Time-Warner who launched MTV the following year.

Grew up in Dallas and attended Thomas Jefferson High School.

Oh, wait....he's not massive now or a hip name to drop. Silly me.

Anonymous
Anonymous

*and*, his mother invented Liquid Paper!

Howard
Howard

I would suggest organizing an effort to fund local artists to do murals of these and other notable musicians. Frank Campagna is great but we can't expect him to do them all.

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