Barak Epstein Wants Texas Theatre to Be a Premiere Dallas Music Venue

Categories: Interviews

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Juan Vargas
iill performs at Texas Theatre's Behind the Screen series back in November

For Aviation Cinemas co-owner Barak Epstein, the Texas Theatre is an integral part of the Dallas film and music scene. And he has a pretty damn good point: The historic theater screens 35mm prints of cult-classic films, has a full-service bar that serves movie-themed drinks complete with a safe-room art gallery, and is a formidable music venue.

In fact, that last one is a bit of a sleeper: Texas Theatre has showcased national touring acts like Thurston Moore, No Age and Goblin as well as locals such George Quartz, Black Dots and Def Rain. And a big part of that cred can be attributed to the one-of-a-kind experience offered by Epstein's Behind the Screen series.

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Dallas' Narrow Head Found Shoegaze Through a Shared Love of Hardcore Music

Categories: Interviews

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Kiran Khattra
Narrow Head's members come from both Dallas and Houston
The band is called Narrow Head. You probably haven't heard of them yet. You will. Formed in 2013 by guitarist and vocalist Ryan Hughes, bass player Jay Chary, Houston's guitarist and vocalist Jacob Duarte and drummer Keaton Khonsari (since replaced by Houston resident Carson Wilcox), Narrow Head has become a vehicle for its members to explore their interest in shoegaze and '90s alternative rock. Yet their oldest member is just 21 years old.

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The Black Dotz Draw on Years of Experience for a Burst of Inspiration on Hallucination Station

Categories: Interviews

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Brent Frishman
The Black Dotz bringing their five-piece rhythmic assault to the Double Wide recently

Rungs of records balance on every flat surface, coils of electronic cables stretch every which way, threatening to snatch at your ankles. A studio's worth of musical gadgetry frames the room, flirting with certain free fall. But I'm more concerned with what hangs on the wall. I try to shake them but I can't. Those eyes, they track you like magnets, then latch on with the weight of an anchor. There he is, rock-god Big Brother, the ever present Nick Cave. The weathered poster of the icon acts like a motivational placard here in Wanz Dover's bedroom. It might as well read "Hang in There!"

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Cashmir Wants to Own the Dallas Rap Game in 2015

Categories: Interviews

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Cashmir on Facebook
Cashmir is stepping out from the shadow of Brain Gang with "Prodigy"
Brain Gang, Dallas' premier rap collective, has received a lot of press for their rowdy presence, charisma and ambition. Boasting eight members, its ranks were loaded with talent and the drive to make a real impact in the music world. 2014 has been a banner year for members of the collective at the solo level. Enough has already been written about Blue, the Misfit and his rise to prominence both locally and nationally. While Blue came away with two Dallas Observer Music Awards trophies last night, one of his Brain Gang compatriots received his first DOMA nomination and may well make 2015 his year.

23-year-old Cashmir is ready to step out into his own. Despite not having an official release out until recently, he was up for the Best New Act at the DOMAs on Tuesday night. I say until "recently" because Cashmir just celebrated the release of his debut mixtape, Prodigy, on November 24. On Prodigy, Cashmir has carved out his own identity on no uncertain terms.

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Avant Age Make the Case for Conscious Hip-Hop in Denton

Categories: Interviews

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Alex Newman
Hip-hop group Avant Age have been cutting their teeth in Denton, recording and playing shows for about a year.

I stumbled on Avant Age in the unlikely hip-hop haven of a coffee shop open mic. That may not sound very promising to some, but bear with me here. The space was rife with comedians and folk-oriented musicians working to carve out a space for themselves in the Denton music scene. But when Avant Age took the stage, it became immediately evident that they were in a league all their own.

The five-piece hip-hop outfit hearkens to older influences in the genre -- A Tribe Called Quest, Mos Def -- and favors socially conscious rapping and live instrumentation. On their journey so far, they've found themselves at odds trying to get shows booked in Denton due to a lack of hip-hop-oriented bills. Unfettered by these difficulties, however, the group has pushed forward and continued recording, writing and making a name for themselves in the Little D.

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Gregg Prickett is Dallas' Most Adventurous Guitarist, and Possibly Its Best

Categories: Interviews

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Unconscious Collective on Facebook
Gregg Prickett dressed to the nines at an Unconscious Collective concert
One of the most challenging periods in the development of any musician is known as "the plateau." It's when the musician's initial approach to his instrument leads to a dead end, a dearth of inspiration and progression that can be extremely frustrating. Some musicians get so fed up during the plateau that they completely give up on music. It's a confusing, seemingly arbitrary betrayal. To get past the plateau a musician must rely on determination, instinct, and, above all, creativity.

Dallas-based guitarist Gregg Prickett has not only advanced far beyond the limitations imposed by the plateau, but he has re-evaluated his approach to his instrument, and his music as a whole, many times over. His intrepid spirit is why he is one of Dallas' most uncompromising and exciting musicians, and certainly the city's most talented and adventurous guitarist.

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Jeffrey Liles Books Dallas' Most One-of-a-Kind Shows at the Kessler Theater

Categories: Interviews

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Melissa Hennings
Kessler Theater's artistic director Jeffrey Liles captured in elegant repose

Tonight the Kessler Theater plays host to small bit of North Texas music history as Centro-matic embark on their last together as a band. As things stand, it's set to be their final appearance in Dallas, and for the Kessler's artistic director Jeffrey Liles it's an important occasion, a bit like the departure of a dear friend.

"There's nothing about Centro-matic that I can say that hasn't been said. I mean, their legacy pretty much speaks for itself," explains a somber Liles over a late-night dinner. "It's just a bitter sweet occasion. They're one of those bands that made so much music that we actually started to take them for granted."

But for Liles and the Kessler, it's just the sort of show they specialize in: One-of-a-kind shows that shouldn't be taken for granted.

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Crown & Harp's Owners Have Seen a Lifetime of Changes in 18 Years on Lower Greenville

Categories: Interviews

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Crown & Harp on Facebook
Local music fans will likely pack Crown & Harp on Sunday to celebrate its 18th birthday

If you spend much time at Crown & Harp these days, chances are you tend to associate the place with Moody Fuqua. He's there pretty well every night, and while his job is technically general manager and talent buyer, you can often catch him slinging drinks behind the bar. Over the past couple years, Fuqua's had a big influence on the direction Crown & Harp has taken, right down to the recent renovations that include new carpet, new curtains and new hardwood floors upstairs.

If you've been around a little longer, you'll probably also remember the not-so-long-ago days when the divey little bar on Lower Greenville was known as The Cavern. But it may still be hard to believe that for the past 18 years the place has been under the same ownership, thanks to three guys who may be a little less familiar to regular customers: Cary Ray, Neil Connell and Jack Chaplin.


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Michael Gruber Puts a Dallas Spin on DJing Stars Hockey

Categories: Interviews

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Mike Mezeul
When the action is intense at for the Dallas Stars, Michael Gruber sets the musical tempo
Going to a hockey game is fun for a lot of reasons: The breakneck pace of the game, the physical game play, the fights, the goals and the music. Let's face it: Hockey has always had a bit of a leg up on the other North American sports for music. While the hegemonic NFL uses a lot of Top 40 and classic stuff, the MLB uses a lot of corny stuff and brief walk-up music, the NBA uses some rap and some stock beats during possessions, the NHL has always been more dynamic. An NHL DJ needs music to play for the team on the power play and the penalty kill, during a fight, after the fight (if the home player wins or loses), if the home team scores a goal or if they allow a goal, and so on and so forth.

For as much nuance the game of hockey has, the craft of putting music to the game requires just as much, if not more nuance. You have to capture the emotions of the game and crowd into a song, for three periods and for a multitude of changing conditions. For Dallas Stars arena DJ Michael "Grubes" Gruber, this is his life.

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At Brass Tacks Barbershop, You Can Get a Haircut and See a Concert

Categories: Interviews

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Jordan Mieth
At Brandon White's Brass Tacks, you can get a haircut and see a concert all the same time

Brass Tacks is a new barbershop in the heart of the Bishop Arts District that people actually enjoy waiting in. Grab a stool or relax in one of the ridiculously comfortable chairs, have a hot or cold beverage and watch a fun '90s film on the TV, something like Desperado or Batman Returns that you remember watching as a kid with your dad or grandfather, but hadn't thought about in years. With its gorgeous vintage chairs, dark wood finish and Art Deco sinks, the barber shop is its own little work of art.

But on the right day, Brass Tacks transforms from simply a stylish barbershop into something far more unusual -- say, a concert venue, as it did recently when Leon Bridges did an in-store performance. It's all part of the unique vision of owner Brandon White.


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