It might be festival season, but you don’t need to wander around the SoCal desert, wearing a flower crown to experience musical magic–Hellllllo Deep Ellum! Dallas is a musical hub harboring some serious talent; and if it had a designated music district, Deep Ellum would be it! With more than a handful of venues, Deep Ellum has become the home base for many local bands and musicians to come to and play for eclectic crowds of twenty and thirty-somethings. Because Smart City loves Dallas and music, we’ve compiled a list of four Deep Ellum venues you’ve got to check out, as well as four local Dallas musicians/bands you’d be crazy to miss!
If you’ve ever looked into seeing a concert in Dallas, then you know about Trees. Local and national musicians of all caliber have been gracing this Deep Ellum stage for nearly 30 years; Kurt Cobain even got into a notorious fist fight here. Legit! After it shut down for a minute, Trees reopened in 2011 and continues to remain a right of passage for all music-loving, Dallas residents. Seriously, you have to go here!
2. Three Links
Three Links is a cool, intimate bar where you can catch some extremely hot, local music at a very close distance. Since opening in 2013, it now sports 16 beers on tap, 40 canned craft beers, and what the owners say is “one of the best top shelves in the neighborhood”. (is it just us, or are you feeling thirsty?) With a garage door and full Fuzzy’s Taco Shop menu, Three Links is a Deep Ellum staple and the perfect place to craft beer and chill.
3. Adair’s Saloon
If you go to Adair’s Saloon, be prepared to leave a mark–literally! What some call graffiti, Adair’s calls art and they’ll even provide you with a marker to sign or draw wherever you can find a space. Adair’s Saloon is the kind of place that feels familiar from the very first time you walk through the green, glass door. This countrified, watering hole has live music seven nights a week and during the moments that there’s no one playing, the jukebox is!
4. The Prophet Bar
One half of what is referred to as “the Door Clubs”, is the Prophet Bar which credit’s itself as spearheading Deep Ellum’s art and music scene after opening in 1985. Backed up against (and sharing a bathroom with) the Door Bar, the smaller venue continues to host some extreme talent and maintain it’s mysterious, slightly divey vibe with the longstanding purpose of fostering the arts and the liberated attitude that comes along with them.
1. The Texas Gentlemen
You can’t talk about Dallas musicians without mentioning the Texas Gentlemen. What started as a backing band, has become a rotating collection of all-star musicians led by producer and operator of a local music studio, Modern Electric Sound Recorders, Beau Patrick Bedford. Although they’ve been playing all over the country, they can be seen performing at Adair’s Saloon and other similar venues around Dallas. The Texas Gentlemen are representing country-soul music at its purest. Bonus, they’re doing it while donning matching retro t-shirts–group Halloween costume anyone?
2. Cure for Paranoia
Dubbed the “Deep Ellum poster boys” by D magazine, Cure for Paranoia are creating soul infused hip-hop that has people fan-girling all over Dallas! The funky quartet is fronted by local rapper Cameron McCloud, who has openly discussed his bipolar paranoid schizophrenic diagnosis and credits the moments he spends making music for keeping him sane. We think it’s totally kickass that the mega-talented group are shutting down stereotypes that surround mental illness with their dynamic sound and modern, cool-guy aesthetic.They’re blowing up, so make sure to catch them live while they’re still regularly playing shows at Three links and the boozy Deep Ellum coffee shop, Drugstore Cowboy.
3. Trent Rush
Growing up as the son of an international rock drummer, Trent Rush always knew he wanted to center his life around music. A song writer inspired by Janis Joplin and Coldplay, who’s music parallels the pop aesthetic of The 1975, is making the kind of tunes you’re likely to belt out during your daily commute. His lyrics are interesting and catchy, and the music is impossible not to dance to–sorry not sorry. One of our favorite things about seeing Trent live is his apparent love of performing! Every show is a production and it’s obvious that entertainment is a top priority. Rush’s music is downright addicting, and we’re always happy to catch him at the Curtain Club in Deep Ellum.
4. Sam Lao
Named “the Best Music Act” of 2014 by D magazine, Sam Lao is breaking into hip hop music in a very pro-female way. She’s working hard to make music that other women can relate to without being limited by the preconceived standards surrounding female musicians. With hard bars and purring vocals, Sam Lao is the best of both worlds. Her latest album, titled SPCTRM, is an ode to her vast creative range, which no doubt is what makes categorizing Lao nearly impossible. If we had to try, we’d say she’s a totally unique blend of strong female performers like Rihanna, Beyonce, and MIA. Truthfully, Sam Lao is a one size fits one kind of artist, and we can dig it! Catch her performing at Trees as well as Deep Ellum’s Club Dada.