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How Moody Fuqua Helps Pull the Dallas Music Scene Together

Fuqua is something of a visionary with a knack for thrusting hot up-and-comers into public awareness and creating community among diverse musicians

To call Moody Fuqua a talent buyer is correct but also seems to miss the point. Fuqua, who has been putting together music lineups at Dallas bars for the better part of a decade, is something of a visionary with a knack for thrusting hot up-and-comers into public awareness and creating community among diverse musicians. After building a solid reputation at Bryan Street Tavern and The Crown and Harp, he turned RBC (formerly known as Red Blood Club) from a flailing dive into a cultural hot spot in less than four months. Now he’s moved to Club Dada—and its sister venue, Off the Record—to help fill out its already robust calendar with more local music. Fuqua is known for making memorable nights, but he’s also partly responsible for making the Dallas music scene an actual “scene” and something worth watching.

Tell me about your philosophy behind talent buying. I’ve prided myself on a lot of variety, which I think was lacking in Dallas a few years ago. My programming really came to fruition at The Crown and Harp, where one night we’d have an experimental noise show, one night we’d have a hip-hop show, one night it’d be something else. One of my biggest things was not putting two acts that were similar together on the same night.

Was it ever a concern that you were putting together acts that were so different? There were some nights I would catch flak from people who were like, “These nights don’t necessarily go together,” and I’m like, “That’s exactly why they go together.” [Laughs] Ultimately, music is music. Rappers, producers, beat makers, guitar players—they all appreciate what the other one’s doing. What excites me is seeing everybody in the scene hanging out at the same place. That’s what Crown created, and that’s what RBC was trying to create: an environment for musicians who wouldn’t necessarily commingle, to get to know each other and hopefully start creating music that they never would have done before.

How do you think about what you do within the broader music scene? My biggest concern is giving a voice to local music, proving that local bills can fill a room the way that touring shows can. I think that’s actually coming to fruition with local releases like Sam Lao’s album release show at RBC, which was f—ing packed. Bobby Sessions did his show at Trees. Even a couple years ago, you wouldn’t think of a local hip-hop artist to do his album release at Trees.

Would he have picked a smaller venue? That’s my opinion. I don’t think the local scene had the momentum it’s gaining now.

Photo by Jonathan Zizzo.
Photo by Jonathan Zizzo.

What else has changed since you started talent buying? All these new venues have been built like Gas Monkey Bar N’ Grill and The Bomb Factory. Venues like Trees, Dada, and Three Links are having a resurgence. People are working together a lot more than they ever have, and that’s creating a nice, healthy scene.

You said about a year ago that the Dallas music scene was poised to break out artistically. Has it happened? I think it happened, and it’s happening. Look at Justus [Justin Mohrle] out in L.A. with Dr. Dre. Justus was part of the Brain Gang, Blue, The Misfit’s crew. Basically he caught the attention of The D.O.C., who turned him on to Dre. Next thing you know, he’s been in L.A. for the past year under contract with Dre, and he co-wrote most of the Compton album. F—, two years ago he played in front of 20 people at The Crown and Harp. Also with the R&B Underground series that we did [at RBC] with Nigel Rivers and Ashleigh Smith. I don’t think Dallas realizes we have some of the biggest session musicians in the United States right here like TaRon Lockett [who tours with CeeLo Green] and Sput [Robert Searight], who played on Kendrick Lamar’s last record. These are all Dallas cats.

“I want the rest of the world to see how amazing and talented the Dallas scene is.”

I felt like RBC was becoming this magical place. You brought in some notable musicians. Tell me about your tenure there. Yeah, it was definitely magical. I hadn’t been to RBC in 10 or 15 years. It was struggling. I looked around and was like, “Holy s—, I could do some really cool stuff here.” I went in and rebranded the place, built a new stage, put in new sound, lighting, booths, a whole new staff, built a patio bar. I feel like I did a lot in a very little amount of time. Ultimately, the owner and I just didn’t see eye to eye. I literally put my blood, sweat, and tears into that place.

How did your role at Club Dada come about? I had previously worked for Dada in the summer of 2014. At that point, I had put my hands in too many things and was not able to focus my time well on any of them. I had to choose one, and I ended up choosing The Crown and Harp. I’ve always loved those guys [at Dada]. My goal is to put the Moody imprint on Dada and on Off the Record as well.

What are your long-term goals for yourself and for the Dallas music scene? I want the rest of the world to see how amazing and talented the Dallas scene is and how we’re capable of being up there with New York or L.A. or Chicago. I think it’s happening in a grassroots kind of way. And you know, I’d like to own a couple clubs and just get to keep doing what I’m doing and keep going to see music for a living. I can’t ask for anything better.

A version of this Q&A appears in the June issue of D Magazine.

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