"If I have my way, it will return at some point this year," he says.

Out in Oak Cliff, Kara Howell's made her own way. Since moving from Denton and into the up-and-coming neighborhood, Howell's been trying to find a way to celebrate the odder musical and artistic undercurrents that her new neighborhood boasts. She found a place willing to celebrate the misfits with Tradewinds Social Club, a neighborhood dive not far from her home. Now, she hosts weekly video screening nights as well as performances from Oak Cliff bands and DJs. The goal, she says, is to emphasize "good bands" over "bands that are just incredibly popular." She admits that many of the shows she's booking are ones that other venues would outright avoid—but she's also proud of that fact.

"We welcome all these weirdo types that have nowhere else to go," she says, before noting that her own acquired taste of a band, Darktown Strutters, was able to pack the place for its first performance there.

Rob Schumacher and Stephanie Houston have options with La Grange.
Mark Graham
Rob Schumacher and Stephanie Houston have options with La Grange.

Meanwhile, her band's last performance took place at Oak Cliff's Kessler Theatre on Sunday, as part of a benefit concert held for Great Tyrant bassist Tommy Atkins, who died last week. It was only the second show so far held in the new space, set to open with a string of free shows come March 20. The Kessler's artistic director, former Observer contributor Jeff Liles, says the spot owned by Edwin Cabaniss also will boast a secret weapon come its opening. "It's completely flexible," Liles says, describing the theater's movable stage, which affords bands the option to play in either a standard or in-the-round setting. For local acts looking for variety in their performances, that's pretty much a wet dream. Good thing too: For now, the 375-person-capacity venue's show schedule is almost exclusively filled with locals. That'll change in time, though, Liles promises.

"I just want to get us to the point where we've got this thing on auto-pilot first," he says. "And I want to give everyone in Dallas two or three months to figure out how to get here first."

Once that happens, Liles says, the rest is easy.

Or, at least, easier than trying to find some time to sleep.

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