Dallas, I have something to confess. I’m going through a crisis of faith regarding you as of late. While these feelings have been present for a long while, hearing the news regarding Jeff Gage has brought it to a point where I can no longer stay silent on the issue. This comes after the Dallas Morning News’ decision to not have a full time music editor, making it the largest newspaper to be without such a position. Some would say that this isn’t about you, Dallas, but rather about the corporate heads in charge of both the Observer and the Morning News. But you and I know that just isn’t the case.
You see, we know where you prioritize music and the arts. Other cities in our state still have their music editors. Your neighbor to the west, Fort Worth, still has Preston Jones residing as the Fort Worth Star Telegram’s editor. Again, this goes deeper than differences in leadership between the Star Telegram and the two previously mentioned Dallas publications. This lack of respect for the music and arts has been seen repeatedly throughout your city in the past few months as numerous art galleries have been shut down. Specifically, the exhibits that have been shut down are those where music plays an integral role in the show. While the Dallas Fire Marshall has cited code violations on behalf of these galleries, one cannot help but feel there is more at hand.
It would be easy for me to complain only about the city management here, but you and I both know that your citizens are as much of the problem (if not more) than government officials. The lack of respect your citizens show musicians is lacking at best, and blatantly disrespectful at worst. I have seen too many cases of people in the front of a concert area carrying on a full fledged conversation while the musician is performing. Conversations and selfies are more important to many “music fans” of your city than the actual music being played.
On a similar note, I have noticed that most of your “entertainment” districts are really centered around eating experiences and not music or art. I noticed this last Friday when I visited Lowest Greenville for the first time in years. Many of the bars have been replaced by hipster-friendly eateries. Only the lone Crown and Harp is still fighting the good local music fight. These same problems are present, even magnified, in Deep Ellum. Far too many of those who visit the area now focus on restaurants and bars that do not feature live entertainment. In some cases, I’ve noticed that live entertainment even seems to make many of your citizens LESS interested in attending a bar. I’ve seen cases where Twilite Lounge had fewer customers once the band started than beforehand. That is a problem that you, Dallas, have to own up to.
These frustrations have overwhelmed me as of late. The Observer letting go of its music editor was simply the last straw after months of problems I’ve seen within you, Dallas. It’s the transition of my favorite neighborhood from a music mecca to a hipster dining district. It’s the shutting down of independent art galleries and DIY music venues. It’s the citizens who choose not to go to see live music, or who choose to attend concerts just to ignore the music. These issues, along with my personal obligations, have made it increasingly difficult to continue this music fight. For the first time, I’ve even pleaded with my readers, asking for a helping hand. It’s an offer that I’d still love for someone to take The Ghost up on.
In spite of all my anger and frustration with your city, I still love you, Dallas. I love many of the great venues you still have, including (but not limited to) Three Links, The Kessler, Double-Wide, and Opening Bell Coffee. I love your citizens that genuinely, deeply, and full-heartedly support local music. Most importantly, I love the musicians that your city has fostered (in spite of your lack of support), and the music that they create. It is especially for them that I feel the need to not surrender. Dallas, I know you are capable of so much more than you have shown us. You cannot convince me with all the talent there is in the metroplex area that Dallas couldn’t be a destination city for music. I feel that by strengthening the artistic and music communities, it would strengthen your city as a whole. So instead of ignoring your musicians and musical community, show it some love and help foster the talent right under your nose. It will benefit not only the musicians, but you as a city. I tell you these things out of love, Dallas. Please, help me restore my faith in you as a city.