The preacher and the Prophet

Why can't we all just get along? The history, or not, of Russell and Jeff's Deep Ellum

September 14: Charlie Gilder opens Circle A Ranch, a new punk showcase for touring acts. The club is located upstairs at the Twilite Room's current location, and will be expanded to occupy space next door. The first show is Gleaming Spires. The Twilite Room remains in existence downstairs, and will feature local acts. No cover is charged downstairs.

September 27: The Butthole Surfers/Stick Men with Ray Guns show, originally scheduled for 500 Cafe, is moved to Charlie Gilder's Circle A Ranch after 500's owner Brian Panza was warned by Theatre Gallery's owner that the Buttholes crowd would tear up the place. Hobbs was apparently not worried about the same thing happening at Gilder's club.

October 3: Members of the Theatre Gallery staff start up Family Management, an organization devoted to aiding most existing downtown bands, including Da Nu Man, Shallow Reign, Howling Dervishes, The Trees, The End, The Underground, and Three on a Hill. TG spokesman Jeff Liles says Family Management is talking with 462's Mark Lee, once a partner in new-wave paradise the Hot Klub, about placing some of its bands with 462's national touring acts.

When Russell Hobbs opened the Prophet Bar on December 12, 1985, Jeff Liles claimed that he would “run through hell in a gasoline suit” for Hobbs.
Do these fellas look honest to you? Hank Tolliver and Charlie Gilder stake out The Honest Place.
Do these fellas look honest to you? Hank Tolliver and Charlie Gilder stake out The Honest Place.

November: 4 Reasons Unknown accepted for MTV's Basement Tapes for the video "Visual Signs." The band is then accepted to perform on -- so help us God -- Star Search.

November 20: A Deep Ellum Clubowners Association is proposed, spearheaded by Club Clearview's Jeff Swaney and Steve Clohessy. According to Swaney, the cooperative effort is intended "to better the area's image, to bolster security and awareness of the area, and to [create] a focused concept of what everyone's venue is." The group's first meeting is held November 20 at Video Bar, and representatives from Deep Ellum's major clubs -- Video Bar, Adair's Saloon, 500 Cafe, Theatre Gallery, Twilite Room, and Kool Vibes -- are invited to attend. TG's Hobbs is ambivalent, agreeing with the idea of an organized scene but not with the notion of creating a scene. He thinks the area should evolve naturally.

November 29: Theatre Gallery's management company, 12 to 21, Inc. (whose owners are Hobbs and Logan Daffron, with Jeff Liles acting as public relations director-booking agent-creative consultant) opens the Prophet Bar. The club's grand opening takes place December 12. The bar is located just down the street from Theatre Gallery at 2713 Commerce, and is targeted for "an older crowd," according to Hobbs.

Hobbs says he opened the bar because there are no clubs in the area dedicated to the fine arts of drinking and conversing. At the time, Liles claims he would "run through hell in a gasoline suit" for Hobbs. Shortly after the Prophet Bar opens, Jim Heath begins a regular Monday-night solo gig there under the name Reverend Horton Heat, after disbanding his group the Polytones.

December 1: New Bohemians perform with 10,000 Maniacs at Theatre Gallery.

1986

February: Hobbs and Liles form Deep Ellum Records, a label to be managed by Liles. Liles says the label is a "logical extension of Theatre Gallery and Prophet Bar." The company will be based above the Prophet Bar, and will open a store in Theatre Gallery's lobby in the coming months.

The label's first release, Feet First's EP In a Great Big Room, will be released April 21. Deep Ellum will also reissue The End's "Das Svidanya" b/w "Seven Day Servant" single. It will also distribute The Trees' Locomotion vs. Hittin' the Brake and an upcoming Shallow Reign single after the first 500 copies are sold. Austin's Pool Records, headed by Patrick Keel, holds the rights to the first pressings of both projects.

February 9: 4 Reasons Unknown win MTV's Basement Tapes with 29 percent of the vote, after a call-in party at the Fast and Cool Club. The band is awarded a recording contract with Epic Records, as well as a full line of Casio equipment.

February 15: Buck Pets, Shallow Reign, and Self Is On The Throne (with drummer Mischo McKay) perform at Theatre Gallery. Former New York Dolls Johnny Thunders and Sylvain Sylvain play at Circle A Ranch/Twilite Room. The Nervebreakers open.

February 20: Circle A Ranch staffers challenge the crew at Theatre Gallery to a game of Photon.

March 20: Owner Charlie Gilder bails out of the Circle A Ranch/Twilite Room venture.

March 21-22: Elektra's Michael Alago and then-MCA A&R director Kim Buie visit Dallas for the first time.

March 22: The Mentors, Killdozer, Scratch Acid, The Larries, and Stick Men with Ray Guns perform at Circle A Ranch. Years later, Mentors frontman El Duce claims he was offered $50,000 by Courtney Love to kill her husband, Kurt Cobain.

April 3: Ex-Telefone Steve Dirkx releases Fate City Limits on VVV Records. The Trees put out Locomotion vs. Hittin' the Brake on Pool Records.

April 4: Loco Gringos, featuring Tom and Don Foote (both former members of The Devices), play their first show, at the Prophet Bar.

April 5: Deep Ellum veterans Legendary Revelations, who haven't stepped on a stage together in decades, perform at the Prophet Bar.

April 11: Under new ownership, Circle A Ranch/Twilite Room becomes The (Ob)Scene, with a show featuring Poison 13 and the Peyote Cowboys.

May 2-3: A&R reps Michael Alago and Kim Buie return to Deep Ellum.

May 15: The End changes its name to End over End.

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