Got the Blues: Before our weeks of hiatus at AAT HQ (SARS scare, but we're cool now), we'd heard rumors about the House of Blues opening one of its national mid-level concert franchises in Dallas, supposedly near South Side on Lamar. This week, we returned to see the final report spread quickly across the news wire--an HoB-branded venue will open at 2200 N. Lamar Ave. in "early 2007" as part of Victory Park, the growing development complex near American Airlines Center.
The 1,600-capacity venue will be the first of its size in Dallas since Deep Ellum Live, which has sat vacant and unwanted for roughly half a decade. To us, the fall of Trees proved there's no happy middle ground between jumbo shows at Nokia Theatre and Smirnoff Music Centre (coincidentally, also run by House of Blues) and 500ish crowds at the Granada Theater, Gypsy Tea Room, etc. Apparently, HoB disagrees. "We think we can bring something unique and different by opening one of our branded clubs in Dallas," HoB representative Liz Smith says. "And it's not merely a music club. It's a multifaceted entertainment destination," complete with a restaurant. The HoB Web sites indicate a massive preference for national acts (and no local openers), though Smith insists that "we book local nights in every single one of our clubs. "
But after one look at upcoming shows in the Chicago HoB calendar--Pat Benatar, Steven Seagal (really), some no-name emo crap and our beloved Drowning Pool--we're wondering what kind of blues the company is trying to cause.
House of Blues
Rollins' band: Ever heard of the International Pop Overthrow festival? We certainly hadn't until May 30--not much room in the AAT budget for staff trips to Liverpool, U.K., after all--when we were linked to an article at the BBC's Web site. "Nobody had heard of Johnny Lloyd Rollins, but the audience loved everything he was doing," BBC music critic and radio host Spencer Leigh wrote. Wait--Dallas' Johnny Lloyd Rollins? As it turns out, the site ranked our city's representative as the very best performer of the hundred-plus band fest, and all this from the singer-songwriter who made a very fine guest appearance on last year's otherwise-boring debut by Belafonte.
Really? Truth be told, we ain't never seen him live, as his home-recorded Let's Be Poor Together never made a huge impression. Rollins doesn't disagree: "You definitely have to see my live show. I played Bend Studio right before I left [for Liverpool], and people freaked out." So we logged onto his MySpace page and found a short concert clip that, admittedly, is pretty damn good singer-songwriter stuff--the range and emotional delivery of Jeff Buckley without any annoying showiness.
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Still, should anyone care about a fest that had absolutely no recognizable names on the roster? Rollins, who spent eight years in Los Angeles before moving back to Dallas a little over a year ago, thinks so. He explains that the IPO is a huge deal in his former city, having broken national bands like Rooney and Phantom Planet, and the fest is now growing into other markets as well--Rollins' debut was at the second ever Liverpool IPO. "I tried for years...it was totally impossible to get in," Rollins says. "I just got in this year because someone recommended me to the company's president."
Rollins is taking the momentum into Salim Nourallah's Pleasantry Lane Studios, where he will record his first proper album starting June 30. But if you want to see the act that made Leigh feel "like Brian Epstein must have felt," you'll have to wait until his July 7 gig at Taste of Dallas. Sorry, mates.
Handstamps: This weekend, Dallas Observer Music Awards faves the Boys Named Sue finally release their debut, The Hits: Volume One, bucking their predilection for cover songs with a disc made entirely of originals. No, really. Hear the proof on Friday at Adair's (with free beer) at 7 p.m., followed by the Boys taking the stage at 10... Rolling Stone buzz band and former Dentonites the Riverboat Gamblers headline an incredibly loud bill at the Gypsy Tea Room on Friday; local bruisers Max Cady and the Strange Boys may destroy your eardrums before the Gamblers destroy the stage, so take earplugs... Sparklepussy Barbie may have members of the Deathray Davies, but a side project they are not. More like a "great Caesar's ghost" project. Is that a proper term? Get scared on Thursday when they open for American Werewolf Academy at the Cavern... Earl Harvin sneaks back into town for a little jazz on Sunday at Dan's Silverleaf.