By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
Smirnoff Music Centre: Too hot in summer, too cold in late fall and just right depending on whos playing (Peter Gabriel or Neil Young, say), its still the Concert Venue Formerly Known as Starplex. In other words, great if youre 10 rows from the stage, tolerable from the middle and like-you-give-a-damn if youre on the grass, if you know what we mean. 1818 First Ave, 214-421-1111.
Sons of Hermann Hall: Texas swing? Alternative country? Folk? See it all and have room to dance at the lodges historically restored Deep Ellum location. And if you wear a hole in your dancing boots, catch your breath at the pool table or play some shuffleboard. 3414 Elm St, 214-747-4422.
Southern Junction Nightclub & Steakhouse: Texas tunes and real Texas tastes. The Junction offers entertainment for the discerning C&W ear and the best steaks in North Texas for the discerning taste buds. 5574 Highway 276, Rockwall, 972-771-2418.
Terillis: Home to Tio the flamenco rocker and jazz pros like Wayne Delano, Terillis two locations have live music six nights a week. The talent and clientele are young and old alike, and the food is outstanding. But be nice and leave the tables for dining customers. 2815 Greenville Ave, 214-827-3993; 4336 Preston Road, Frisco, 214-387-4600.
Texs Taphouse: Describing the after-dark incarnation of Texadelphia can be boiled down to a simple equation: The Peach Pit - Tiffani Thiessen + the lingering smell of cheesesteak sammiches. Two things going for it: top-notch location (the corner of Commerce and Crowdus) and the kitchen stays open late (mmmm). Well, three, if you count the quality up-and-comers who play there. And you should. 2801 Commerce St, 214-969-0905.
Top Rail Ballroom: We dont two-step, but our wife does. She prefers Top Rail to all other C&W joints in town. Three reasons: real cowboys, gentlemen who pay as much attention to dancing as ass-grabbing and, of course, her longtime lover hangs out there. 2110 W Northwest Hwy, 972-556-9099.
Trees: A Deep Ellum landmark, Trees has withstood the test of time...and remodeling. The neon sign remains, but the crowd is ever changing. Ample floor and balcony space means that theres always a great, unobstructed view. Plus, who wouldnt want to visit the place where Kurt Cobain got his ass kicked? 2709 Elm St, 214-748-5009.
Umlaut: This is why people hate Brady and Brandt Wood, the owners of this downtown and underground hotspot. Because every place they open, like Umlaut, is so hip and successful, people say, Dammit, why didnt I do this first? 1602-B Main St, 214-742-2368.
Uncle Calvins Coffeehouse: Nothing says good times quite like live acoustic music in a smoke-and-alcohol-free environment thats named after Protestant reformer John Calvin and happens to be located in a church (Northpark Presbyterian Church, specifically). But if you swing that way, get ready to punch your ticket. 9555 N Central Expy, 214-363-0044.
Velvet Hookah: Smokings not banned at this Deep Ellum nightspot. In fact, its sort of the point. The bar offers a wide variety of tasty drinks and flavored tobaccos, but try to take it easy. A hookah hangover aint pretty. 2712 Main St, 214-747-6700.
Village Station: The king (or queen?) of dance clubs, this hook-up-friendly outpost in Oak Lawn has the hottest beats and the hottest bodies. Questionable fashion choices abound (no one can really pull off vinyl short-shorts), but its still the best environment for getting sweaty and heady while a DJ drops the needle and you dance, dance. Extra suh-weet: easy access to some fine late-night grub. 3911 Cedar Springs, 214-526-7171.
White Elephant Saloon: Do you like the fake six-gun shootouts at Six Flags? Then youll love this place, with its brass foot rails, a history that traces back (in name, anyway) to the 1880s and regular appearances by some pretty great country troubadours who like to kick it old-school, such as Brian Burns. Giddy up. 106 E Exchange, Fort Worth, 817-624-9712.
Winedale Tavern: This narrow bar hosts some of the best and most intimate jazz and blues. Be nice to the regulars, stay out of the way of the pool players and get immersed in music that ranges from legendary blues acts to the modern carnival chaos of Dallas bands like Shibboleth. 2110 Greenville Ave, 214-823-5018.
Wreck Room: Fort Worths most idiosyncratic club is next to 7-Eleven in the cultural district but is decorated with chain-link fence, murals of naked ladies and thrift-store furniture. The bands booked are equally diverse. 3208 W Seventh St, Fort Worth, 817-870-4900.
XPO Lounge: You might not classify the XPO as a music venue, but Hillbilly Happy Hour or a DJ showcase proves its not just a bar. Shows are inside or on the patio, and genres are as diverse as the barstaffs wardrobe; ever seen a waitress in a nurses uniform and galoshes? Dont miss: Thursday-night Scaraoke, which usually brings in local musicians and drunk Observer staffers. 408 Exposition, 214-823-2329.