Here’s an early look at Blue Light Dallas, Deep Ellum’s second new country venue of 2018 and an offshoot of the famed Lubbock red dirt spot of the same name.
Despite all the ten-gallon stereotypes that out-of-towners like to impose on Dallas, there aren’t that many music venues within the city limits that cater exclusively to country music performances.
In fact, until recently, the only place Deep Ellum had access to was the 55-year-old Adair’s Salon.
But that changed this summer as new Honky Tonk Mama Tried opened its doors in the entertainment district and across the street from Adair’s smoking patio. Meanwhile, This weekend, the number of country-focused Deep Ellum music venues is about to grow further as Blue Light Dallas opens its doors at 2811 Main Street and hosts its first concert.
More significant than Adair’s (Blue Light claims a 400-person capacity) and more music-focused than Mama Tried’s, Deep Ellum’s third country bar also boasts a name recognition its competition probably doesn’t. Over the past few decades, the Lubbock-based sister bar of the same name has become an institution and a must-visit on the touring circuit of Red Dirt and Texas country—a rite of passage into a scene that has launched careers such as Cory’s. Morrow, Wade Bowen, Pat Green, William Clark Green, Josh Abbott and, more recently, people like Flatland Cavalry and Dalton Domino.
Mark Torres, owner of Blue Light Dallas, is well aware of that history, having bartended at the original Lubbock during college. To this day, he fondly remembers the night at Blue Light when Bowen recorded his first live album, and he says it’s those kinds of memories he hopes to recreate at the Dallas offshoot.
To help it do that, it’s bringing a few recognizable touches and some welcome upgrades to its version.
Along with his co-owners Derek Hunter and Lia Sa, who own the Lubbock avatar, Torres imported many familiar aspects of the original Blue Light’s design into his Dallas build-out—the Coca-Cola mural above the bar and the Palo Duro Elements such as the landscape mural near the bathroom painted by No Dry County guitarist Briston Phillips.
Other carryovers include a trio of specialty drinks – frozen Call-a-Cab Daiquiris, Habanero-infused Burn Shots and Chiltons (a mix of vodka, lime juice and soda that has become the city of Lubbock’s signature cocktail). Otherwise, Torres says the drink menu will be designed to be simple, streamlined, and served fast.
Parker Morrow, who plays with Red Shahan and fills calendars at Lubbock bars, will also serve as a talent buyer in Dallas. Just as Kessler uses its ability to book bands for both its stage and its sister Houston venue, The Heights, the tandem Blue Light venue also hosts two-date Texas swings for pairings and bands touring the state. Hope to offer. Tours – This is a huge advantage when it comes to booking.
While some of the features will undoubtedly be familiar to fans of Lubbock Bar, Dallas’ Blue Light will naturally have some charms as well, like the metalwork Torres has installed around the bar, the wood-panelled bathrooms that (hopefully) Will win, I beg the same type of graffiti treatment found in Lubbock and a 26-by-16-foot stage that is two feet larger in either direction than Lubbock’s performance space. The Dallas venue also added a green room for the band, which included shower facilities.
Perhaps the most significant difference, however, is the presence of a small kitchen space in front of the bar, from which hand-held foods will be served at the venue – sandwiches, wraps, paninis, walking tacos, Twinkies, and other items that can be served at the venue. It can be eaten during Standing and watching the show – until closing.
Still, This Is A Bar That Is, First And Foremost, A Live Music Venue.
Torres says he won’t even open the venue on a night when there’s no band scheduled to perform on stage. For now, Torres says he hopes to keep his doors open Wednesday through Saturday from 6 p.m. to 2 p.m., along with another Lubbock import, Monday night singer-songwriter programs hosted by former Lubbock musician Zack Wilkerson, who recently moved to Dallas, helping fill out the opening week’s calendar.
Your first chance to check out the new venue for yourself will come this Friday, October 19, when Lubbock headliner Dalton Domino will headline Blue Light Dallas’ inaugural concert. On Saturday, October 20, Charlie Schafter of Denton will headline. Both of those shows and the first several shows held in the room will be free to attend.
Other notable shows confirmed on the Blue Light Dallas calendar include Adam Hood on November 2 and Austin Mead on December 14.
And even as the number of Deep Ellum country bars is now three times where it was at the beginning of the year, Blue Light’s ownership isn’t worried about finding its