Growing old means letting go. Love fades and friends move away. The people closest to you -- mothers, fathers, grandparents, brothers and sisters, the whole nine -- they depart this earth. And the places we visit, our old haunts, they come and go as well. Concert venues, much like restaurants, come and go frequently. And yet, these are the places where relationships are cultivated and over time, we get attached to them, developing a sense of kinship.
Yes, venues come and go swiftly, but sometimes, sometimes they come back. Deep Ellum stalwart Trees is just one such venue to pull off a Lazarus-like second act.
Saturday, Trees will celebrate its fifth anniversary. It will be the venue's true 20th birthday and 24 years since the venue origionally opened its doors in 1990. A lot of history has happened in Trees. On October, 19, 1991, a little grunge band from Seattle stopped by for an hour-and-fifteen-minute set. You might have heard of them;they were called Nirvana. Kendrick Lamar stopped by in 2011, playing to a full room. A year later he'd release his classic debut album, good kid, m.A.A.d city.
Trees is an integral part of Deep Ellum's vibrant music scene. What's so impressive about Trees is that it's the only place in Dallas you can expect to see stoner rap legend Devin the Dude on a Friday, local blues rock outfit Jonathan Tyler & the Northern Lights on a Saturday and the fusion band that is exactly what its name sounds like, Metalachi, on a Sunday. The diversity of Trees' calendar is a pendant of Deep Ellum's spirit. "That's the whole idea, there's something for everybody," Clint Barlow, Trees' owner says. "If I booked everything I liked, I would probably go out of business."
Barlow and his wife Whitney reopened Trees in 2009 after it closed its doors to the public in 2005. Back in 2008, the Barlows had their sights set on opening a bar in Allen. In the fall they drove down Elm Street and saw the door at Trees open. They stopped inside and talked to the building's owner. When Clint shared his idea about opening that bar in Allen, the owner made an off-handed, playful comment. "I'll give you a good deal on this place," he said.
Serendipitously, this triggered Clint to snatch up a deal on owning the music venue he once played in as a musician. "I thought there was a void there for a while when it closed. It was a bummer, you know?" he says. And besides, who would pass up an opportunity to resurrect a storied venue in Dallas to sell Miller Lite and Michelob Ultra in the 'burbs?
Though this is Barlow's first business, he says it hasn't been that tough and attributes the smooth sailing to having the same core group of people involved since day one. "I surrounded myself around a bunch of people who are knowledgeable and know what they're doing," he says.
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So, Saturday, to celebrate five years strong, Clint handpicked a few of his favorite bands in Dallas: Jonathan Tyler & the Northern Lights, the Soft White Sixties, Cody Jasper and the Roomsounds.
Venues opening and closing in Deep Ellum is an all too frequent occurrence. There was Club Dada, the Green Room, and the Red Blood Club among others that couldn't decide whether or not they wanted to stay open. Trees' success coupled with Barlow's lack of previous business acumen validates the dream and negates the worry, he says.
Owning a successful music venue with his wife is a story crafted in MTV generation heaven. Let's go back a decade ago, to 2004. Barlow's touring with one Rob "Vanilla Ice" Van Winkle as Mr. Ice Ice Baby's drummer. In some dark venue in St. Louis, Barlow spots Whitney, who happens to work at the venue. He asks to buy her a drink and they chat and somewhere down the line get married and have a venue of their own.
"We stay excited," Barlow says. "It's as fun now as the first day we opened."