Kelly Dearmore is a veteran Dallas-based music writer whose work appears in the Dallas Observer and other publications.
Deep Ellum's century-old history is every bit as rich and complicated as that of the city it helps define. What started as a haven for blues in the 1920s, when legends such as Blind Lemon Jefferson would fill the neighborhood joints with soul, has taken on a few different sounds and personalities because of commercial development, freeway construction and the many changes in the city's economy.
These days, however, the grid consisting of streets Elm, Commerce, Canton and Main are thriving with hip boutiques, craft beer depots, classic tattoo parlors and innovative gastropubs. Most of all, there's live music. If nothing else, Deep Ellum will forever be the epicenter of Dallas' music scene. Here are the can't-miss clubs for live music in Deep Ellum.
2704 Elm St., threelinksdeepellum.com
When the club's large garage doors roll open along Elm Street, it's as if Deep Ellum's unofficial city hall were open for business. The club itself is relatively tiny, allowing for only a couple hundred folks to catch local bands as well as nationally touring acts, but it's soul is large. Funky murals on the walls, a colorful array of soccer scarves hanging from the rafters, a chalkboard packed with one of the best craft beer lists any club can boast and a spacious back patio make Three Links impossible to ignore.
3510 Commerce St., double-wide.com
Perched on the far-eastern edge of the neighborhood, the happily dive-y Double Wide isn't exposed to the hustling traffic of the neighborhood, but its renegade, individual spirit is plenty present. Inside the main bar area, you can try one of the inventive frozen cocktails, including the YooHoo YeeHaw, a white Russian-inspired frozen cocktail built on the classic sweetness of everyone's favorite old-school chocolate soda, Yoo-hoo. Across the small courtyard, can catch local and regional bands playing punk, metal and country, sometimes on the same night, multiple nights a week.
2624 Commerce St., adairssaloon.com
No other spot in the 'hood has withstood Deep Ellum's trials and tribulations with more steadfast aplomb than Adair's. Since 1983, Adair's has been the best place in town to catch live country music seven nights a week while chowing on one of the best greasy cheeseburgers in Dallas and washing it all down with cold, cheap pitchers of Lone Star beer and Shiner Bock. You can literally see this history of the honky tonk, thanks to decades worth of patrons leaving their black marker marks on the wood panel walls for future generations of country music fans to admire and add to.
Blue Light Dallas
2811 Main St., thebluelightdallas.com
For Texas Tech University alumni, few memories are as prized as the ones made inside Lubbock's beloved country music venue Blue Light Live. As one of Deep Ellum's more recent additions, the Blue Light Dallas has been catering to local's looking to relive some of their college glory days along with a new generation of singer-songwriters. Each Monday, the club hosts a songwriter's night, as well as some of the biggest names in Texas country and Americana throughout the rest of the week.