The more Deep Ellum changes, the more it looks the same. A good part of that has to do with Clint and Whitney Barlow, who have made it their mission to reopen some of the neighborhood's most legendary music venues.
First, in 2009, it was Trees, then, six years later, it was The Bomb Factory. Now they've set their sights on reviving a third club: Deep Ellum Live.
Clint Barlow announced the news yesterday morning on his Facebook page. The club, which last hosted live music in 2004, is located on the corner of Canton and Crowdus and is attached to The Bomb Factory. It's slated to open sometime in 2017.
"Clint and Whitney have been awesome at taking things that were at one point enjoyable to people, then bringing them back in an even better way," says Gavin Mulloy, the creative director at Trees and The Bomb Factory. Deep Ellum Live was the logical next step for expansion. He says, "There's this room next door, something in Deep Ellum where a lot of people went to shows there back in the day."
The reason for reopening Deep Ellum Live, according to Mulloy, is simple: They needed more room. Or, rather, another room. "There will be nights where we're booked at both Trees and The Bomb Factory and we have the opportunity to do other things, but we're limited by space," he says. "The cool thing about The Bomb Factory this year is the phone rings all the time with people going, 'I want to do something there.' But some people's ideas aren't as big as the room is. It just gives us more options."
Whether or not the old name returns with the room is yet to be seen — "I'm not saying it won't be Deep Ellum Live, but we're still figuring stuff out," Mulloy says — but if it doesn't, it wouldn't be the first time the club operated under a different alias. It was first opened in the late '80s as a country dance hall called Tommy's, before it was renamed Deep Ellum Live in 1991 and became a mainstay of alternative and grunge bands.
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When The Bomb Factory returned after a 20-year hiatus in March 2015, it was as state-of-the-art as any club in North Texas. But that was a far cry from its original incarnation, which hadn't even had air conditioning — much like Deep Ellum Live. "Both rooms were empty concrete and metal, so it was really loud or really hot or really cold," says Jeff Liles, the artistic director at The Kessler. He was a booker at Trees in the early '90s. "It didn't have any furniture in it. It was literally just a big, open floor."
The Bomb Factory today is expanded from its original layout, but Mulloy says that won't affect the Deep Ellum Live floor plan because there had previously been another building in between the two. Demolition is already underway. "They went all out when they redid The Bomb Factory," Liles says. "If they take the same approach with Deep Ellum Live, I'm sure it'll be the perfect missing piece down there."
With Deep Ellum Live back in the equation, one of the last missing venues from Deep Ellum's '80s and '90s heyday will be back in operation. By Liles' estimation, only the former Theater Gallery and Clearview will be missing — and that could be enough to make Dallas a serious concert player.
"It's huge. When all these things get up and running on all cylinders, it's going to be really, really hard to touch Dallas as far as a metropolitan area for concert-going experiences," says Liles. "It's a really good thing for Deep Ellum. … When Clint sets his mind to taking a room and bringing it back, he knows what he's doing. He's proven it."