When you grow up in a small town, moving to the big city can make you feel like a fish out of water. At least, Southern Methodist University student, Jeff Tullis, says so.
DART helps Jeff bridge the gap between what feels like a big city and the opportunities that lie at heart of Dallas.
Years ago, Jeff built a red road bike from parts because he couldn’t afford a car while paying for school. Now, whether it’s catching a bus on Southwestern Boulevard, hopping on the SMU Express or connecting to the Orange Line at Lovers Lane Station, he combines his DART and bike trips to move about the city.
“Public transit isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity for people who lack other means of transportation,” Jeff said. “Having a DART student pass and bike accessibility is the reason I’ve been able to get into the music scene in Dallas.”
With skills in playing the bass and guitar, Jeff starts his junior year at the university’s Meadows School of the Arts in the fall, majoring in double bass performance with a minor in arts management.
He grew up on the south side of Fort Worth and comes from a family of musicians. Jeff said all kinds of music continually played in his home growing up, shaping his interest in music in general rather than a specific genre.
“Jeff picked up a double bass when he was 11 years old, and he’s never put it down,” his dad, Paul Tullis, a violist for the Dallas Opera Orchestra said. “He added electric bass, acoustic and electric guitar, and now, the bass balalaika. But, what I envy deep down is Jeff’s ability to lay down a walking jazz bass line and improvise without even thinking about it.”
Although Jeff remembers spending time in Dallas with his dad, tagging along as his dad played at gigs, Jeff still finds there’s much to discover in the city.
“I still felt like a small-town kid in New York City when I moved here for school,” he said. “Still do, honestly.”
This summer, Jeff gained an internship through the ExxonMobil Community Summer Jobs Program to work with Fine Arts Chamber Players, a Dallas organization that provides free classical music concerts and educational activities to North Texans.
During his internship inside the Sammons Center for the Arts, he works as the assistant director of the Fine Arts Chamber Players’ Basically Beethoven Festival, a series of free family-friendly classical music concerts every Sunday in July at Moody Performance Hall.
Whether it’s coordinating concert logistics, rehearsals, audience management or, on concert days, handling sound checks, stage management, musician green rooms and helping with lobby setup, Jeff finds that his internship offers plenty to do.
“He brings a helpful, can-do attitude and demeanor to the job, where he’s been a wonderful representative,” Emily Guthrie, Interim Executive Director for the Fine Arts Chamber Players said.
Jeff said the festival functions as an invaluable asset to Dallas’ cultural scene because it offers free classical music indoors with local professional musicians. And, it’s just a DART ride away.
“People should ride DART to the festival because they don’t have to park or deal with traffic,” he said. “You’re taking another step to reduce your carbon footprint by sharing a bus or train car with lots of other folks.”
Beyond school and work, Jeff finds that DART plays a role in other areas of his life. He enjoys catching a movie at the Angelika Film Center near Mockingbird Station, visiting Haggard Park near the second-to-last stop on the Orange and Red lines in Plano and visiting Deep Ellum with his girlfriend.
Forever may seem like a ways away, but that’s how long Jeff said he plans on improving his double bass and guitar skills. He anticipates that, after graduation in May 2020, he’ll continue to play and write music near Dallas or wherever his work takes him.
The 38th Annual Basically Beethoven Festival continues this Sunday, July 15, at Moody Performance Hall. DART to Pearl/Arts District Station or catch D-Link (Route 722) to San Jacinto and Pearl streets to see the concert. Learn more about the festival at fineartschamberplayers.org.