On most nights, The Right Reverend stays near the back of the club for the bulk of the show, his voice only occasionally breaking in over the P.A. system to comment or to announce the next singer. These days, he's all too pleased to rotate through several vocalists before he takes the stage at end of the night.

This past Friday night, as Sammy Riley delivers a solid, crowd-impressing performance, is no different. The 46-year-old Riley only recently started performing solo at R.L.'s, but he estimates that he's been attending shows here for half his life.

Soon after Riley's performance comes another — this one damn near unforgettable — from a regular Blues Palace performer by the name of Big Charles Young. He's a favorite among frequent attendees of the club and the in-the-know locals. He's been hanging out at R.L.'s since 1987, but like Riley, he didn't start out on stage.

"I used to be the door man, the cameraman, the bouncer," he says, pausing to laugh. "I did it all and a little bit of everything else. After listening to so many other people sing, I knew I could do it. I knew I could beat 'em."

Now everyone else at R.L.'s knows so too. But that's an old story at the Blues Palace, where Griffin, much to his credit, is all too pleased to let such newcomers to the craft share — or, hell, steal — the spotlight.

"If you have some talent, then he'll let you display it," says Big Charles. "R.L.'s not a selfish person. He'd rather let you get up there and take a turn."

Even as the crowds have waxed and waned and waxed again over the years, it's this supportive, familial feel that has remained a constant at this Dallas institution. It's what has always, and will always, keep people coming back to R.L.'s.

"He's done so much to help so many performers in the town," Ottensman says of Griffin before pausing a few seconds to mull his statement over.

Finally, he settles on the appropriate sentiment: "We're lucky to have him."

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3 comments
Pat Boyack
Pat Boyack

I remember the Blues Palace #1 and taking my folks there from Utah. We were the only White folks in the place on a Sunday afternoon. It was a great time and I'm am Lucky enough to have played on that stage a few times with the band. The Palace may be the only place one can find a table full of fried chicken (back in the day it was Henderson's now its more likely to be William's) and/or a BBQed 'coon. Yes, I have bought a whole one from the 'coon man.

Nice to see some pub for RL. He is one of the good guys.

Diane Birdwell
Diane Birdwell

I always wondered about that place.... Sounds really great.

TexasRangeMman1
TexasRangeMman1

Great place, I saw the Male Aretha Franklin with Minutaglio at the old location, nothing quite like it anywhere else in Dallas, a true, forgotten institution of our city ...

 

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