By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
8.0: This bar-meets-lounge-meets-concert stage provides great nights on the tree-shaded patio. As one of the only music venues in Fort Worth that mixes local music outdoors with a great indoor bar, its home to cool weekend nights in the heart of Sundance Square. 111 E Third St, Fort Worth, 817-336-0880.
Aardvark: Located around the corner from Texas Christian University, its no surprise this rock club has Greek appeal. But housed in the same historic strip that was home to The Hop and Rail, it books the best locals in the Golden Triangle, plus the occasional road show. 2905 W Berry St, Fort Worth, 817-926-7814.
Across the Street Bar: Two patios and an outdoor stage for the up-and-coming band make for a relaxed atmosphere, where drum jams and college-band nights pepper the schedule. Also, the Yale Ice House next door offers excellent pitcher specials. 5625 Yale Blvd, 214-363-0660.
Adairs: You can get a sense of this boots-buckles-and-beer bar on the live albums recorded there by Jack Ingram and Eleven Hundred Springs. But its best to check out this Deep Ellum honky-tonk the proper way: on a barstool way too late on a weeknight, with a Lone Star longneck in one hand and a crowd of empties in front of you. 2624 Commerce St, 214-303-0684.
AllGood Cafe: This small cafe with a cozy atmosphere and a hometown feel offers live music every Thursday through Saturday night. And dont worry about paying cover at the door; you can make a donation to the band when they pass the kitty at intermission. 2934 Main St, 214-742-5362.
American Airlines Center: Shiny and new, like a freshly minted gold coin; more luxurious than a pimps RV; more HD sets than Mark Cubans bathroom. Where all the top-o-pops acts play, if thats what you call the Eagles and Dave Matthews Band; also, very sportsy. Still, its a tad too big for the little people, who sit high enough to touch jetliners. 2500 Victory Ave, 214-222-3687.
Area 51: Even with $1 well drinks (and all night, mind you) and free admission before 11 p.m., theres still plenty of room on Area 51s boxy dance floor. Which is OK, but weve always been the-more-the-merrier kind of peeps, especially where dance clubs are concerned. 703 McKinney Ave, Suite 103, 214-720-2266.
Art Bar: Progressive DJs and even more progressive art make for a nice respite for those who want a splash of culture with their cold adult beverages. Only negative: a bit bright inside. Its like drinkers kryptonite. 2803 Main St, 214-939-0077.
Bahama Breeze: Caribbean culture shouldnt work in C&W country, but this chain (with locations in Frisco and Las Colinas) gives it a solid effort, creating a candy-colored theme-park version of a trip to Jamaica. (Meaning: No weed, brah.) The jurys still out on whether the tinkling of steel drums helps digestion, but it probably doesnt hurt. Much. 2750 Preston Road, Frisco, 972-377-0746; 857 W John Carpenter Fwy, Las Colinas, 972-402-0666.
Balcony Club: Offering live jazz every day of the week, the Balcony Club keeps it lazy and hazy, perfect for late-night drinks after a movie, especially if youve been to the Lakewood Theatre, which is located right below the club. 1825 Abrams, 214-826-8104.
Barley House: Sunday night is like a whos who of local music with acoustic (and sometimes impromptu) performances. Fridays and Saturdays usually rock, too. 2916 N Henderson, 214-824-0306.
Bar of Soap: Live bands, a bar, an arcade and a complete laundromat. What more could the pressed-for-time music fan ask for? Punk, indie and rockabilly preside here, where theres never a cover charge (but bring loads of quarters). 3615 Parry Ave, 214-823-6617.
Bass Performance Hall: Since when did downtown Fort Worth become a European transport? When the Bass Hall opened. This uniquely beautiful concert hall is like nothing else in Dallas or Fort Worth. With five levels of seating, be cautious not to sit too high in the sky (painted ceiling) or you might be airsick. 330 E Fourth St, Fort Worth, 817-212-4325.
Bath House Cultural Center: An intimate, familial locale to see live theater and assorted cultural diversions, the sort usually reserved for cities that have a soul. The nighttime patio view of White Rock Lake backlit by downtown is supah-sweet. 521 E Lawther Drive, 214-670-8749.
Bens Half Yard House: Home of the famous half-yard glasses, Bens offers the ultimate mix of sports, food and drink with 42 beers on tap, an all-American menu, darts, pool and constant TV sports for the less active. 7102 Greenville Ave, 214-363-1114.
Big Balls of Cowtown: Born in 1997, the self-styled home of Western swing is still firmly rooted in history despite its young age, from the 70-year-old bar to its relentless championing of a dying genre. Though its located in the heart of the Fort Worth Stockyards, Big Balls owners (and former Okies) Joyce Bubbles Miller and Gary Beav Beaver have helped it avoid becoming a tourist trap. 302 W Exchange, Fort Worth, 817-332-8190.
Billy Bobs Texas: Two-step through this enormous venue and see everything from the legendary to the unknown in country music. Western shirt optional, but the Western fare is recommended. 2520 Rodeo Plaza, Fort Worth, 817-624-7117.
Blackberrys: An upscale multicultural dancehall thats just the place for those looking to get dressed up and get down and boogie. Caribbean and Latin music a specialty, with some progressive dance and 70s funk thrown in for good measure. 15203 Knoll Trail, 972-490-3284.
The Blarney Stone: The friendliest of Irish pubs, the Blarney welcomes a slew of regulars whether post-rugby game or for Wednesday-night beer specials. Most of the time, the jukebox serves for musical entertainment, but the occasional DJ set or acoustic act makes for a welcome change when the juke goes stale. 2116 Greenville Ave, 214-821-7009.
Boars Nest: Surprisingly, for a bar named after Boss Hoggs base of operations on The Dukes of Hazzard, this countryish upscale dive is packed with yuppies. No Bo and Luke, not even Coy and Vance. 2008 Greenville Ave, 214-824-1169.
The Bone: As the name suggests, this is the sort of club that cock-rocks it up. Downstairs is standard head-nodding music, and a bar adjacent to a fairly whup-ace poolroom. The rooftop patio is where you find and try to act like a cool breeze. 2724 Elm St, 214-744-2663.
Borrowed Money Saloon: Another Fort Worth boot-scooter that has the details down, knowing that the C&W crowd only needs a big dance floor (got it) and a bigger cooler full of beers (oh, yeah). 2413 Ellis Ave, Fort Worth, 817-378-0250.
Brickhaus Cafe: Just off Dentons historic town square, its a restaurant with a small stage in the back by the bathrooms across from couches, arm chairs, book shelves and chairs and tables for its weekly open mikes. Its also a regular tour stop for Wally Pleasant. 219 W Oak St, Denton, 940-566-6690.
Carsons Live: Every Wednesday at Carsons is Emerald City Band night, which is a pretty sweet deal for those of you who have enjoyed the group at Mavs games (theyre the house band at the AAC). If that doesnt lift your skirt, the club also has Texas Thursdays, featuring the best of Lone Star country. Or, at least, whomever they could get. Also, the bartenders dress like a combination of the Joker and the Riddler. 17727 Dallas Pkwy, 972-931-9111.
The Cavern: Upstairs, the best jukebox ever presides over the cozy booths and cocktails. Downstairs, shows are packed, loud and fun--just like its namesake and original venue for the Fab Four. 1914 Greenville Ave, 214-828-1914.
Club Clearview: Four clubs to suit your musical tastes in one Deep Ellum location. Inside, theres dance, retro and live rock, and outdoors theres a roof-deck with an amazing view of the skyline. Check out art showings, the occasional karaoke night and finger paintings by local and national bands. 2806 Elm St, 214-939-0077.
Club Dada: Along with a cozy atmosphere, bizarre artwork and three stages, Dada has plenty of tables, both inside and on the patio, for just chatting over cocktails or taking in some tunes. Cover bands and an open-mike night are a mainstay. 2720 Elm St, 214-744-DADA.
Club DNA: The new home of KDGEs long-running Sunday-night retro shindigs, Club DNA has, slowly, started to gain a foothold. The dance floor is smaller than youd expect at a place that offers nothing but; on the other hand, it makes up for it with a lively staff and plenty of shelters from the DJs storm. 2610 Elm St, 214-760-9255.
Cool River Cafe: The finest aged cheese in North Dallas can be found packed in this bar-restaurant every night, either giggling into their apple martinis or adjusting themselves in their Hickey-Freeman gabardine trousers, depending on their gender. 1045 Hidden Ridge, Irving, 972-871-8881.
Cowboys Red River: Mostly a Western warehouse that brings in young country studs (such as Chris Cagle) and offers three nights of dance classes to teach you how to move to em, Cowboys also has straight-edge night for the tweens (every Sunday) and a college night (every Wednesday, with DJ Howie Black from Wild 100.3) for their older siblings. 10310 W Technology Blvd, 214-352-1796.
Curtain Club: Sit outside and people watch, or find a smattering of local acts inside. Curtain gives baby bands their first shot, and the granddaddies of Texas music get a nice stage to come home to. An interesting detail, the walls are covered with local artist Cabe Booths portraiture of headlining artists. 2800 Main St, 214-742-2336.
Dans Silverleaf: Dans Bar: The Sequel has the homey familiarity of the original, plus its rugged wood and woven-blanket atmosphere. Tricky to locate between the square and assorted warehouses, Dans still hosts the best of Dentons rootsier bands, such as Slobberbone and Centro-matic. 108 N Industrial St, Denton, 940-320-2000.
Deep Ellum Live: As big and spare as the tire in the trunk of an Escalade, this no-frills room consistently brings in national acts on their way up--and sometimes, down--the ladder. Warning to hangers-on: Guest lists dont always materialize here. 2727 Canton St, 214-748-6222.
Dicks Last Resort: The service is bad. The grub is good. And thats the point. You need a tough skin and a big stomach for a night at Dicks, so prepare yourself. On the plus side, you can peg the rude waiters with napkin balls and not get kicked out. 1701 N Market, 214-747-0001.
The Door: One for the kids: The Door offers a tobacco- and alcohol-free environment for all ages to see their favorite local and Christian bands. The club includes two stages and an attached coffeehouse for the beatniks, plus signposts pointing toward heaven, hell and the rest rooms. 3202 Elm at Trunk Ave, 214-742-DOOR.
The Door Fort Worth: The sister club to the Deep Ellum original offers local kids, teens and adults a chance to see Christian rock groups other than in their church or a coffeehouse. (Non-Christian bands do play here as well.) A single large room with a stage in front, a non-alcoholic bar in back and thats about it. 2625 Rodeo Plaza, Fort Worth, 817-624-OPEN.
Eisenbergs Skate Park: Located in historic downtown Plano, Eisenbergs offers something for kids of all ages. There are bike and skate ramps, a skate shop, an arcade and the occasional rock show. Just blocks from the DART rail station. 930 E 15th St, Plano, 972-509-7725.
The Elbow Room: Sitting on the outskirts of Deep Ellum, this is the place to unwind from the hustle and bustle of the arts district. A cozy little nook, as the name suggests, it also offers free shuffleboard, darts, cheap pool and a classic-rock-heavy jukebox. 3010 Gaston Ave, 214-828-9488.
Elm St. Bar: With its cheap liquor and cheaper thrills, this is a pretty good place to disappear after a show. Or during: We once left the Galaxy between bands and never made it back, sucked into a few games of pool and a few more adult beverages. One of the few constants on a troubled block of Deep Ellum real estate that might as well be situated on top of a sinkhole. 2812 Elm St, 214-653-1668.
Escapade 2001: Our Hollywood Heights neighborhood is virtually deserted on weekend nights, because most of Dallas surging Latino population is at this hangar-sized hangout, getting their ranchera and cumbia on. Only open Friday through Sunday, they still make more money than every other club in the area. 10707 Finnell St, 214-654-0545.
Escapade 2009: Did you read the item above? Well, same goes here, except the soundtrack is slightly more hip, with techno and rock en espaol added to the mix. 10707 Finnell St, 214-654-9595.
Fort Worth Convention Center: As far as convention centers go, if youve seen one, youve seen them all. This goes for the largest concert venue in Fort Worth. A semi-circular arena provides room for 14,000 fans and, well, room for 14,000 fans. 1111 Houston, Fort Worth, 817-570-2222.
Galaxy Club: With Orbit Room long dead (tip your bottle), this is pretty much the sole provider of all-ages shows. (Which means a 12-year-old and his dad might bum a smoke off you at some point.) Punk and not-so-punk, local and national, bands that have been together for 10 years and some for 10 minutes--they all hit the Galaxys stage at one time or another. Now go stand in front of it. 2820 Main St, 214-742-5299.
Good Records: The record store with its racks covered in yellow paint and colored light bulbs puts up a stage in the back cranny that usually holds a listening center when local bands have a CD release party or when touring bands want a more intimate showcase. 617 N Good Latimer, 214-752-4663.
The Granada Theater: We werent big fans of this former movie house when it redebuted as a live-music venue, but the Granada has been doing better of late. Theyve shored up the sound woes that plagued early shows and started bringing in acts (Sigur Rs, Bob Dylan, Macy Gray) that make audiences forget about the remaining problems. Still kinda hard to see the stage unless youre a few feet away. 3524 Greenville Ave, 214-824-9933.
Gypsy Tea Room: A frequent winner of Best of Dallas and Dallas Observer Music Awards, and rightfully so. The club regularly brings first-rate acts to town (from Wilco to the Roots to Steve Earle to Common to Doves, and thats just a start), and the bathrooms are some of the cleanest and most well-stocked around. 2548 Elm St, 214-74-GYPSY.
Hard Rock Cafe: Enough rock-and-roll memorabilia to knock your socks off--be sure to check out ZZ Tops woolly guitars and the Cheese Club (just ask). True story: This HRC, though now the Supreme Court of Rock & Roll, originally housed a church. 2601 McKinney Ave, 214-855-0007.
Hole in the Wall: Exactly what youd expect given the name: kind of out-of-the-way and tiny as a circus-sideshow attraction. There are few better places in the area to get the blues (or a burger) than Hole in the Wall, where local legend Hash Brown hosts a jam every Wednesday. Come in the summertime, when the patio out back is open. But watch the parking situation: The dirt lot gets muddy after a few drops, and the next-door businesses have tow trucks on speed dial. 11654 Harry Hines Blvd, 972-247-2253.
Humperdinks: Karaoke is something not many do sober, and thats probably how it should be. Luckily, the mugs at this brewpub are fairly large, which helps make Wednesday and Thursday nights at the bar a little more agreeable. 6050 Greenville Ave, 214-368-1203.
Indigo: The (somewhat) unfinished interior and (generally) unvarnished lineups suggest a club still finding its way, but the scrappy staff seems sure theyll get there. Seen some good shows there, and some bad ones, which is pretty much standard operating procedure when talking about a club that feels like the minor leagues. We mean that as a compliment. 2702 Main St, 214-651-7377.
Jefferson Freedom Cafe: Consider this the Fort Worth branch of the venerable Uncle Calvins Coffeehouse: family-friendly, largely acoustic and housed in a church. Shows happen on the third Saturday of every month. 1959 Sandy Lane, Unitarian Church, Fort Worth, 817-424-2727.
J & J Blues Bar: Occasionally strays into other genres, but J & Js is still a slice of blues heaven. Because of the music? Yeah, sure. They bring in some pretty swell national and regional gee-tar slingers. Or because of the cheap drinks and free parking? Trust us, they know what side gets the butter; check out the phone number. 937 Woodward, Fort Worth, 817-870-BEER.
Lakewood Bar and Grill: A top-notch East Dallas bar. Especially fond of trivia on Saturday nights, but the weekend band lineup and special events (dinner and movie with Animal House...nuff said) make the LBGs cold beer taste all the better. 6340 Gaston Ave, 214-826-3888.
Liquid: The former home of the Arcadia Theater, this Lower Greenville haunt has had more face-lifts than Joan Rivers, but its latest makeover--a place where young professional types can dance off some steam--seems to have stuck. You wont find a better-looking nightclub around, its art-deco details remaining through every incarnation. And its got a huge dance floor, theater seating for relaxing and a bar at every turn. Which should have been the first thing we said. 2005 Greenville Ave, 214-823-9700.
Liquid Lounge: The Curtain Clubs lil sibling has a small capacity and a small stage decorated with a parachute. The more mellow setting includes lots of booths and tables and chairs, plus a balcony for optimal viewing. 2800 Main St, 214-742-2336.
Lizard Lounge: Maybe best known for hosting goth-friendly The Church on Sunday nights, Lizard Lounge also features some of the worlds best DJs on a regular basis. Several rooms plus a rooftop deck offer a good combination of dance floor and dark corners. Fun fact: Madonna tried to buy this place. Yes, that Madonna. 2424 Swiss Ave, 214-826-4768.
Majestic Theatre: A restored theater dating back to the 20s, the Majestic offers everything from fringe theater to mainstream touring acts, from spoken word and comedy to rock bands. 1925 Elm St, 214-880-0137.
The Meridian Room: This Expo Park staple has the look of an old speakeasy with lots of polished wood, low lighting, a long mirror-backed bar and a row of booths against the exposed brick. Despite the laid-back attitude, the service is fast and accurate. Oh, and the mood music is good, too. 3611 Parry Ave, 214-826-8383.
Micks Bar: This shotgun bar has a stylish midcentury look, a DJ on the wheels nightly (if you feel like dancing) and a swinging bar area (if you dont). Rule of thumb: Come early to grab one of the booths. 2827 Greenville Ave, 214-827-0039.
Moose and Vinnys: If you remember the scene in Ghost World where Steve Buscemis blues fetishist endures an aural assault from Blues Hammer in a strip-mall club, you kind of already know what its like to walk into this sports-bar chain that attempts to draw in local blues purists. M and Vs does, however, offer a pretty jumping jam session every Wednesday with Tutu Jones. So theyve got that going for them. Which is nice. 9220 Skillman St #115, 214-342-BEER.
Muddy Waters: Dallas music up-close and personal, Muddy Waters is home to many a blues act (hence the name), such as Homer Hendersons One Man Band, but dont let that deter you if blues aint your bag. The bar also hosts some of Dallas best pop, rock and acoustic acts. 1518 Greenville Ave, 214-823-1518.
New Amsterdam Coffeehaus: This comfy coffeehouse/bar is the perfect stop after a leisurely stroll through Fair Park. A great beer selection and jovial bartenders make for a nice neighborhood pub, conducive to intimate conversation and smooth jazz. 831 Exposition, 214-824-5301.
NextStage: We dont mean to play favorites, but this is probably the best place in the D-FW extended family to see a big-name touring act. Everything is top-freaking-notch; parking is a snap, the seats are perfectly positioned and comfortable as a recliner, and the staff is nicer than most grandparents. The concessions are reasonable, too. And, oh yeah, the lineup of bands is good and only getting better. More, please. 1001 NextStage Drive, Grand Prairie, 214-373-8000.
Old Crow: The last time we were here, our obnoxious, very drunk friend almost got thrown through a plate-glass window. Its one of the many reasons we love this spare, simple Lower Greenville bar. And the hotties. Plenty of hotties. 1911 Greenville Ave, 214-828-2769.
One: A hit-and-miss veteran of the local dance scene, One is rarely the loneliest number. Frustratingly crowded, it sometimes feels like your favorite T-shirt has shrunk in the wash. That said, when its on, you wont notice. 3025 Main St, 214-741-1111.
Open: The newest member of the Club Clearview family, Open has style to spare (dig the 1960s airliner theme) and more NYC-cool than youd have a right to expect. DJs fill in the blanks in the conversation without overpowering it, and seriously, if you cant leave with a pocketful of numbers at the end of the night, youre doing something wrong. 2805 Main St, 214-747-OPEN.
Ozona Grill & Bar: Lunchtime destination, college hangout, whatever. Ozona is a comfortable, laid-back joint that offers everything from weekend brunch to comedy troupe performances every Tuesday and Friday night. 4615 Greenville Ave, 214-265-9105.
Palm Beach Club: Beats, rhymes and life rule at whats becoming a Deep Ellum institution; you wont find a busier club on the weekends, with more people waiting to get in than some places get all week--and its been that way for a while now. If you want hip-hop and reggae--and you do, even if you dont think so--look no further. 2816 Main St, 214-742-IRIE.
Petes Dueling Piano Bar: The name pretty much says it all. If youre looking for a good-time, sing-along crowd, Petes is the place. Especially if bawdy, off-color humor is your thing. And it should be. 4980 Belt Line Road, Suite 200, 972-726-PETE.
Poor Davids Pub: Born March 15, 1977, and still going strong, Poor Davids is a Texas legend. Texas musicians such as Jerry Jeff Walker and the original Dixie Chicks have made this Lower Greenville spot a favorite. 1924 Greenville Ave, 214-821-9891.
Popolos: Trivia: This Italian restaurant is where piano princess Norah Jones got her start. Soak in the atmosphere so you can lie and say you saw her there. 707 Preston Royal Shopping Center, 214-692-5497.
Pour House: A solid neighborhood bar, with a side patio for those nights the room gets too crowded. Problem is, if youre outside, you cant drop coin in its stellar jukebox, play Golden Tee or watch Mavs games on the big screen. 1919 Skillman St, 214-824-1170.
Red Blood Club: Tucked into a blink-and-miss location on Commerce Street, this small-fry spot is home to the creative musicians in the, um, Dallas Creative Music Alliance, as well as a long list of DJs and a 64-count Crayola box of local acts, from punk to country to metal and all the spaces in between. Sorta hard to find, but worth the effort. 2617 Commerce St, 214-653-1641.
Reign Entertainment Complex: Playing to the frat boys and sorority gals surrounding Dentons University of North Texas campus, the REC tries to be all things to all people, with live acts on Fridays and DJs on Thursdays and Saturdays. With its ample dance floor, the latter works better than the former. Of course, the well-stocked bar evens the playing field considerably. Still kind of feels like a sports bar, though. 1131 Fort Worth Drive, Denton, 940-898-0500.
Reunion Arena: What AAC-lovers call small, we call intimate; what they call antiquated, we call venerable. In other words, still the best arena in town when you want to see-them-feel-them-touch-them, not just hear them, whether its Bob Dylan or U2 or...Barney. Also: the new home to the Arena Football League, which indicates the venues new status as white-trash hang. 777 Sports St, 214-800-3000.
Ridglea Theater: The renovated movie palace tends to intimidate bands with its huge open room with theater seating and the tall wall behind the stage where the films used to be projected. But fans can expect plenty of seats, multiple bars and an improved sound system. 6025 Camp Bowie, Fort Worth, 817-738-9500.
The Rock: If you think acid-washed jeans went away, you havent spent much time at a Wal-Mart or The Rock, the latter of which is soaked in more acid than the late Ken Keseys Merry Pranksters. Long hair and leather are more important than proper ID at this kick-ASKA bar. If you know all the words to any Skid Row song besides 18 and Life, welcome home. 2815 Main St, 214-698-9401.
Royal Rack: More pool tables than a Color of Money marathon and domino games like a back porch in the back woods, all set to a soundtrack thatll make you think youre an extra in a remake of The Harder They Come. And P.S., you can get a contact high just walking by the open door of the club. You know, if youre into that sort of thing. 1906 Greenville Ave, 214-824-9733.
Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studios: An indie-music lovers paradise. If its never on the radio, its probably live here. This venue is for the die-hard fan, but the reasonable cover charges make it worth the 45-minute drive and the limited seating. 411 E. Sycamore, Denton, 940-387-7781.
Sambuca: Sambuca offers a great blend of jazz, food and good service. The crowd is mature, and the atmosphere is a welcome change from teen-riddled nightclubs. 15207 Addison at Belt Line Road, 972-385-8455; 2618 Elm St, 214-744-0820.
Seven: Dont bother showing up here until at least one in the morning, but plan on staying late. Past the main bar and the dance floor full of hard-trance devotees, theres another, quieter spot to imbibe and impress the person you just bumped into (probably literally). Good for people watching, too, since Seven caters to the beautiful-people set. 2505 Pacific Ave, 214-887-8787.
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.