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Gale Hess, Violinist of Cafe Noir, Has Died

by Jerome Weeks 4 Jan 2012 10:24 AM

She helped pioneer Deep Ellum music, adding some gypsy jazz to its country-rock twang, before going on to play for Cirque du Soleil. In the bargain, she and Cafe Noir became regulars at the Dallas Theater Center.


Unfair Park has the news — and some fine clips to convey what Hess brought to music, to Deep Ellum in the ’80s, when Cafe Noir (left) popped up like a happy surprise with its wonderfully rich, ethnic-flavored, bohemian jazz, sort of the Gipsy Kings with some twang. In addition to everything Robert Wilonsky has to say, I’ll add this: Before Cafe Noir broke up and Hess headed to Cirque du Soleil, back when the late Ken Bryant was assistant director and then artistic director at the Dallas Theater Center, Hess and Noir had a regular home there, too, fitting in perfectly with Nikolai Gogol’s The Inspector General but also such seemingly unlikely projects as A Christmas Carol. They were part of the Deep Ellum theater crowd as well. In fact, the last video Wilonsky posted features what’s clearly Matt Posey (then of the Deep Ellum Theatre Garage, now the Ochre House) doing his best goofball tango. Quite the find.

Hess, 56, died of cancer two days ago. A memorial service is being planned.

  • Shannon Monk

    I was lucky enough to work at the DTC in those days. In fact, the sad news today somehow brought me right back to the day we lost Ken. I will miss Gale and her music and the magic that was Cafe Noir for the rest of my life.

  • Shannon Monk

    Is there anyway you could put me in touch with the folks planning the service. I would like to offer my assistance. I have been in touch with Jeffery Liles and Edwin has offered the use of the Kessler. No doubt David Card would offer the use of his place as well.

  • Anne Bothwell

    Hi Shannon,
    Quite thoughtful of you. I’ll see if I can find out and email you separately.

  • Bill Ball

    I was blessed to know Gail for almost her entire life. We grew up across the street form her and her family. I was additionally blessed to have spent a few hours with her as she was back in Dallas visiting her father, another quality person. I only wished that I could have hugged her as a friend one more time. I am comforted to know that the creator and giver of all love and talents is doing that at this very moment. Play on Gail, play on, I am looking forward to the great additions to heaven you bring!