By Kelly Dearmore
By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
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.
Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studios: An indie-music lover's paradise. If it's never on the radio, it's 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: Don't 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, there's 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 who's playing (Peter Gabriel or Neil Young, say), it's still the Concert Venue Formerly Known as Starplex. In other words, great if you're 10 rows from the stage, tolerable from the middle and like-you-give-a-damn if you're 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 lodge's 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.
Terilli's: Home to Tio the flamenco rocker and jazz pros like Wayne Delano, Terilli's two locations have live music seven 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.
Tex's 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 don't 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 there's always a great, unobstructed view. Plus, who wouldn't want to visit the place where Kurt Cobain got his ass kicked? 2709 Elm St, 214-748-5009.
Uncle Calvin's Coffeehouse: Nothing says good times quite like live acoustic music in a smoke-and-alcohol-free environment that's 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: Smoking's not banned at this Deep Ellum nightspot. In fact, it's 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 ain't 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 it's 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 you'll 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.