Music and art have thrived in Dallas’s Deep Ellum neighborhood since the 1920s. But over the past six years, at least a dozen of the artists and musicians that called those four blocks their creative home have taken their lives. Fortunately, there’s a group in Deep Ellum with deep roots to the neighborhood and its music scene that hopes to prevent suicides in the creative community.
Walking up and down the streets of Deep Ellum is a sensory experience. The air smells like barbecue. Murals plaster the walls. And just about everywhere you go you can hear music.
Even on weeknights, you can see several musicians performing on street corners, and the local clubs like Trees and Three Links are filled with music fans listening to performances.
Anthony Delabano says Deep Ellum is like a little slice of New York in Texas. He would know. Delabano knows Deep Ellum well. He, along with his friends, pretty much grew up here.
“I was in a band called Spector 45. I started the band when I was about 15 years old with my best friend Frankie Campagna,” says Delabano.
Spector 45 was a punk band with a greaser aesthetic. Delabano, Campagna and their bassist Adam Carter performed in the band for almost a decade. Everyone knew who they were. The Dallas Observer even named them the “Best Punk Act” in 2010. But very soon after that everything changed.
“In January of 2011, on New Year’s Eve, Frankie committed suicide,” says Delabano.
Friends say there were signs that Campagna was having difficulties, but Delabano says that Campagna was the strong one in the group. He says that all of the members of Spector 45 had problems but that they talked and he wouldn’t have guessed this was going to happen.
Soon thereafter, tragedy struck again. In March of 2011, Adam Carter also committed suicide. Delabano felt like a sole survivor and he struggled with that.
“I wanted to die too. I had had enough,” says Delabano. “I struggled for several years just trying to live life with sanity after all of that. Fortunately, I was able to get myself back on my feet again. Unfortunately, people in our community kept dying.”
And that’s why Foundation45 was founded.