From nine to five they answer phones, analyze, sell or litigate — but after hours they light up the stage, collecting applause the way a good accounts-receivable clerk nets due funds.
Bob Sullivan And Victoria Montelongo, AKA Gold Teeth Music
Bob Sullivan and Victoria Montelongo didn’t set out to become music promoters. But when they attended the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival for the first time in 2007, they were blown away by a singer-songwriter named Shannon McNally. “She was fantastic, but no one really knows who she is,” Sullivan says. “That was kind of the beginning.”
The couple’s friend David Champion had always wanted Sullivan to put on a show with him, bringing little-known or under-exposed artists to audiences that would appreciate them. So they formed Gold Teeth Music and started working to bring McNally to Dallas. With connections at the Sons of Hermann Hall (in addition to frequenting the venue for years to see shows, Sullivan is a member of the fraternal organization) and at radio station KNON (they’re friends with the guys behind the station’s popular Texas Renegade Radio — “a huge resource for us,” Montelongo says), Gold Teeth was well equipped for a good start.
Since then, numerous Americana, country, roots and Texas music acts have come to Dallas to do Gold Teeth shows, primarily at the Sons. “It’s music we love and artists we know are trying to get their names out there,” Montelongo says. In building audiences for the artists, the couple is building one for Gold Teeth as well. Many of the artists “don’t have high name recognition,” Sullivan says, “but people will know it’s a Gold Teeth production.”
Producing a good live show takes a lot of work — communicating with the artists, booking the shows, making and putting up posters (theirs have been designed by well-known Dallas fashion photographer Richard Krall), taking care of logistics, setting up tables, doing the lighting, plus taking pictures and video of the shows — and Sullivan and Montelongo manage to do it in their spare time. Sullivan, a general contractor, stays busy with his company, Sullivan Design and Construction, which he has run for 25 years. He specializes in contemporary and modern construction, working with noted architects including Dan Shipley, Gary Cunningham and Russell Buchanan. He also designs and builds furniture, including some of the pieces in the Vickery Place home he shares with Montelongo. She has her hands full with her job, too: As a Dallas ISD elementary art teacher, she teaches each of the almost 800 students at her school.
But even with their busy schedules, Sullivan and Montelongo keep booking shows because they love it. They also want to pay homage to Champion, who died in 2011, without whom Gold Teeth wouldn’t exist. (Champion also came up with the name, inspired by signs posted around New Orleans advertising the blingy dental accessories.)
“A big part of our mission is trying to introduce people to new music, live music,” Sullivan says. “I believe that no matter what type of music you’re into, when you see talented musicians live, you become part of the experience.” Says Montelongo, “There are lots of times people tell us, ‘That’s the best show I’ve ever been to.’ ”
The only drawback? “We do this because of our love of live music, but you miss a lot when you’re responsible for everything,” Sullivan says. “A show’s over, and it’s like, ‘Dang! I didn’t hear anything!’ ” —Brittany Nunn
Sarah Wyatt and Ashley Bright
The lives of neighbors Sarah Wyatt and Ashley Bright are like an echo of each other.
“Our stories are pretty similar,” Wyatt says. “We get lumped together all the time.”
The roommates live within walking distance of their day job at vintage jewelry shop Bella and Chloe, where Bright works in customer service and Wyatt works as a skuer. In their free time, they perform improvisational comedy at the Dallas Comedy House, which is where the copycat duo met.
Two years ago, Bright was working as a compliance specialist for a mortgage service in Arlington, which is “as boring as it sounds,” she says.
Bright has always loved comedy. As a child, she was shy, but she was also a ham. Around 8 or 9 years old, she wanted to be the youngest person on “Saturday Night Live” — a dream she aged out of, but never quite outgrew. The desire to write comedy floated around in her peripheral vision, but she never pursued it.
She found a flier for the Dallas Comedy House, which was offering a Black Friday Sale for DCH’s beginning improv class. She signed up, and it ended up being one of the best life decisions she’s ever made.
“It lit the fire under me that had been brewing all along,” Bright says.
At DCH, she dabbled in improv, which is an entirely different beast from stand-up. Instead of comedy that revolves around a script, the players set up improvised scenes through clever dialogue and virtually nothing else.
Aside from pulling out a side of her she’d never truly accessed before, improv also taught Bright a valuable lesson: Just do, and then figure out the details later.
So she decided to quit her soul-sucking day job.
“It was a full, grown-up career job,” Bright says. “It was draining me a lot. Comedy, it’s a hobby, but I feel very passionate about it, and it was something that made me so happy … Doing something that made me so-not-happy, the contrast was so stark that it was making it worse to be somewhere that I really didn’t want to be.”
She moved to Dallas to continue her training at DCH. By this point, she had become close friends with Wyatt, so the two decided to room together. Not long after, they both began working at Bella and Chloe. It pays the bills, and they enjoy it, but it certainly isn’t their passion.
Aside from performing at DCH, Wyatt also teaches there.
When Wyatt began taking classes, she was working at the Richardson Public Library as an administrative assistant. She had just gone through a messy breakup and decided to do something for herself. She’d always wanted to do comedy, but she’d never had the guts to do it. So she Googled “comedy dallas” and found Dallas Comedy House in Deep Ellum.
“I wanted to do something new,” she says. “I wanted to mix my life up. My life had been so repetitive. I’d always wanted to do some kind of performing, but I was always too scared.”
Like Bright, Wyatt learned to take risks at DCH. So she quit her job at the library, moved to Dallas to room with Bright and began working at Bella and Chloe three months later.
Turns out, both women have a knack for improv and are considered “rising stars” at DCH.
“When you watch Sarah on stage, you don’t want it to end because she’s just so good,” says DCH founder Amanda Austin. “She’s moved up quickly through the DCH program as a student, accomplished performer, and now instructor and coach.”
Bright, too, is “hilarious and has one of the most fun voices as a writer I’ve seen in a while,” Austin says. “She’s in the writing class I teach, and I love it when her assignments pop into my inbox.” —Brittany Nunn
Richard Bailey likes his job at Half Price Books. The White Rock-area resident does everything from loading stock to helping customers find their next read at the flagship store on Northwest Highway. “It’s a pleasure to work in a place where everybody in the city loves to be,” he says.
But “bookseller” isn’t the only job title on his resume. He’s also a filmmaker, poet and playwright. “If I’m awake and not at work, I’m working on these projects,” he says.
Bailey says he’s pursued these interests in one way or another since he was 18, when he got a job as an overnight radio broadcaster at a country and western station. With the freedom to plan his own show and six hours to fill, he “learned what it takes to build a story.”
After earning a filmmaking degree from the University of Texas, Bailey, who grew up on a east-central Texas farm, headed to Dallas and quickly found a job in advertising. In his spare time, he made two 16 mm short films that were featured in festivals. But traditional filmmaking is expensive — film stock, processing, lighting, talent — and he couldn’t afford to make any more. “I became dormant in film and moved to poetry and plays,” he says.
His poems have been featured in about 25 poetry journals, and his poetry collection “Revival” was a finalist for the Poetry Foundation’s Emily Dickinson First Book Award. He’s also had some success with his plays. He was a semifinalist at the Bay Area Playwrights Festival in 2012 for his play “A Ship of Human Skin.”
But even with these other creative outlets, Bailey never lost the desire to make films. When a friend showed him some scenes of the ocean that he shot using a DSLR camera, Bailey was impressed with the quality. He knew he had found a tool that would allow him to once again be a filmmaker.
Even with a full-time job, Bailey has managed to make three short films in the past two years, with another in post-production. His films have recently been featured in the Snake Alley Festival of Film in Burlington, Iowa, and the Flathead Lake International Cinemafest in Polson, Mont. In May the McKinney Avenue Cotemporary presented five of his films to a standing-room-only audience.
Bailey has almost finished the script for a full-length feature. His goal is to shoot a few scenes and get them up on Kickstarter by the first part of 2015 to try to fund the full production. “I’ll keep pushing the projects forward until there’s an insurmountable hedge,” he says. “So far, there hasn’t been one.”
For more information on Richard Bailey’s work, visit tropicpictures.com. —Larra Keel
Neighbor Ronnie Fauss loves both his jobs equally, and he’s convinced he would feel the loss if either wasn’t a part of his life.
At his day job, working as an accountant for the Dallas Mavericks, Fauss tells his co-workers he’s a musician who also does accounting. When he’s moonlighting as a musician, he considers himself an accountant who also plays music.
“I’m kind of a split personality,” he says. “I’m left-brained during the day and right-brained at night. One of the things I enjoy about doing both is the balance.”
Did we mention he’s also husband to his wife, Amy, and dad to their three kiddos?
Not only does the Lakewood resident do it all, but he also does it all well, with a long list of accomplishments to prove it.
“I’m really full-throttle in both areas,” he says. “I don’t just dip my toe in one side and then just stay in the other most times; I love both.”
Fauss has been working for the Dallas Mavericks for 15 years. After graduating from Baylor University, Fauss worked for PricewaterhouseCoopers for two years until he landed his gig with the Mavericks.
He has always loved music. At times he played in bands, and at other times he didn’t, but he was determined not to lose his creative streak, especially after becoming a dad.
Over the years he created a handful of songs he wanted to produce. He’d always admired the Denton band Slobberbone and followed their career. In 2009, Slobberbone guitarist and vocalist Brent Best was playing a solo show at the Barley House. After a few beers, Fauss worked up the courage to approach Best and ask if he’d help him produce a record. Best agreed.
Through that partnership, Fauss was introduced to the independent Americana label New West Records. In February 2012, Fauss signed on with the label under its new sub-label Normal Town Records.
He released his first album, “I’m the Man You Know I’m Not,” in October 2012, and the second album is coming out in November. He says it will be “less country and a lot more American rock and roll.” After that, he’ll write a third album for New West.
Unlike many musicians, Fauss has no desire to quit his day job. Half his songs were written while going about life as usual, he says.
“I feel if I ever quit my job and became a full-time musician, I don’t know what the hell I would write about.” —Brittany Nunn
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