We wish this was a category with fierce competition, thanks to a Dallas scene loaded with a rich tapestry of blues hands who've lived through thunder and fire, surviving to tell their tales in raspy, hard-nosed song. But this isn't Mississippi, so we'll settle for at least one club getting it right, and the booking and atmosphere at Deep Ellum Blues has yet to be beaten by the rest of the blue-eyed soulsters around town. When the busiest bluesman in Dallas, Hash Brown, isn't holding court for his Thursday night residency, the best players from Dallas, Austin and all over the South make the best of the worst, including utter badasses such as Watermelon Slim and Andrew "Jr. Boy" Jones.
They say you gotta have a gimmick in showbiz. Well, a gimmick and an agent. The Horne Agency is a full-service, SAG-franchised talent agency representing adults and children in movies, television, commercials, industrials, radio, print and live performances. The agency, owned by co-founder Suzanne Horne, is a member of AFTRA/Screen Actor's Guild, Women in Film, Texas Association of Film/Tape Professionals and STAGE. She's known to be picky about whom she signs, but once you're in her fold she will go to the mat for you every time. It is as typical to see her at a far-flung suburban theater catching one of her actors in a low-profile stage show as it is to see her at a grungy art house faithfully watching one of her own in a low-rent indie film. That's loyalty, which is what many on her roster will tell you is one of her most outstanding attributes. Turn on your television and you'll see Horne Agency talent all over the place. Look, there's Bill Jenkins, Doug Miller, Cara Statham Serber and Denise Lee doing roles in national ad campaigns and TV series. Suzanne Horne gets the job done by getting actors jobs.
RL's Blues Palace
If you come to R.L.'s expecting a hard shot of the blues, blame the namesake, R.L. Griffin Jr., for your moment of disappointment. Minutes later, you'll blame him and his incredible house band for a damn good time, anyway. Despite the house's name, there aren't any blues tunes at this Palace; rather, it's a haven for Motown-era soul covers, open only on weekends to a capacity audience pretty much every night. Show up early to get dibs on table seating and bring a group (not to mention bottles of liquor, since the joint's BYOB), and you'll see why the house fetches a consistent crowd. Griffin's band, complete with a series of talented, rotating singers, is too busy having fun--and sounding mighty fine doing just that--to worry about the "blues" tag on the door.
Sure, their productions are terrific. Producer-actress Sue Birch and her loverly casts get giggly with British bedroom farces and raise the roof with shows such as the sexed-up Shakespeare they did last season. But adding to the big fun at Theatre Britain's stagings at Trinity River Arts Center are the delicious British intermish noshes. Brought over from the British Emporium in Grapevine, the snacks include English tooth-rotters such as Maltesers, Flake, Crunchies, Mars Bars, Cadbury's Buttons, Smarties, Wine Gums, Refreshers, Fruit Pastilles, Fruit Gums and<\f>Walkers Crisps (Plain, Salt & Vinegar, Cheese & Onion). So good are the edibles, sometimes the crunching threatens to drown out all Act 2 dialogue. But go ahead, munch away through Macbeth. Those salty crisps are worth the Thane of Cawdor's nasty looks.
The Cavern
Spune Productions has done the impossible, turning a small club on the meat-market strip of Lower Greenville into a truly viable music venue. In fact, Spune's booking prowess has landed countless crowd-drawing indie-rock acts from Man Man to Devendra Banhart...which has become a problem. The tiny room has only enough space for a few dozen patrons, and the stage is already crowded with musicians. Still, the club favors unknown acts, so some of the best bands are still subject to small crowds, and patrons can always escape the mass of bodies by going upstairs to see DJs spin the newest and most obscure tracks this side of Suede. At any rate, Dallasites are still coming out in droves to test their claustrophobia and see the finest in local and national rock, so Spune must be doing something right.
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Andy+Hanson
In+Theatre+Three%27s+dueling+farces%2C+%3Ci%3EHouse%3C/i%3E+and+%3Ci%3EGarden%3C/i%3E%2C+Emily+Gray%2C+Kerry+Cole+%28center%29+and+J.+Brent+Alford+swap+beds+and+barbs.
For years this has been the fossil farm of Dallas theater, the place where old plays, old actors and even older subscribers go to take naps. But this year, something happened at this dusty little theater-in-the-square. They woke up and started casting young, attractive, exciting-to-watch actors such as Lynn Blackburn, Ashley Wood, Gary Floyd and David Brown. Artistic director Jac Alder threw some real heat into the season (and made some money) with a hit extended run of The Full Monty. Yep, the boys took it all off in the movie-turned-musical, and the senior citizens who make up the fan base at T3 had to make room for a new crowd of theatergoers who'd just discovered this venue based on the good word-of-mouth (and nice reviews) for that show. This season has some fresh, challenging productions on the boards at T3, including Tennessee Williams' rarely done Vieux Carr (through October 15), Michael Frayn's critically praised Democracy (opening January 4) and Tony Kushner's Tony-winning musical Caroline, or Change (May). Between those they're also squeezing in The Odd Couple (April). Sometimes a nap can be refreshing.
With crystal meth addiction reaching epidemic numbers, it's good news to learn that Dallas has its own support system to deal with the crisis. The mission of Crystal Meth Anonymous (CMA) is to offer help to those for whom crystal meth has become a serious problem. It offers regular meetings, support and fellowship and creates a safe environment in which to stay clean. CMA utilizes a 12-step program to combat this insidious drug that has destroyed lives from coast to coast. CMA realizes it's an issue for our community, too, and offers regular meetings on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. It's well-known that admitting there is a problem is the first step to recovery. Perhaps a prudent next step is checking out CMA.
Rock Star: Supernova was the brainchild of Mtley Cre drummer Tommy Lee, who invited two other washed-up former "legends" to follow in the tattooed footsteps of INXS, who picked a new singer in the first season of this CBS talent contest. Making an immediate splash in the first week of the second season was Puerto Rican-born Dallas resident Zayra Alvarez. Her cover of the Evanescence hit "Bring Me to Life" drew mixed results, but her flashy costume, exotic beauty and rockin' bod made her an immediate hit with the judges. But Alvarez's rocky road to fame took a tumble in Week 2 when her take on The Kinks' "You Really Got Me" puzzled the panel. But they kept her around week after week. We suspect this had more to do with her skimpy outfits and outrageous persona than her vocal chops. Still, the former Deep Ellum Liquid Lounge regular made it into the final group of eight contestants. Like a delicious train wreck, you just couldn't look away when Alvarez was wailing.
Time was we used to motor the kids over there in the van during the holiday season to see the Santa sticking out of the second-story window like a burglar caught in the act. Then the kids grew up, and for the next few years we drove the dog over there on Christmas Eve because she liked to bark at the horse-drawn carriages and she seemed to enjoy the pretty lights (or maybe it was just getting to sit in the front seat). Then the dog passed away, so now we just pick up a hot chocolate and a cookie at Starbucks and drive ourselves from one end of swanky Beverly to the other, hazarding the bumper-to-bumper Benzes and marveling at the hugely tacky decorations rich people are willing to pile up on their perfectly manicured lawns to celebrate the birth of Our Lord. Yep, that's a helicopter on that acre of yard, delivering gifts to folks who already have everything.
Backyard Beach Bar
Tucked away in an anonymous nook near White Rock Lake is one of the best-kept secrets in the local saloon society. There are many reasons to recommend this casual and comfy club, but the real hook is located outside. Two pools! One is for swimming (and water volleyball) while the other features a sliding board and side ledges for lounging. Also gracing the outdoor area are beach volleyball courts (with pristine sand) and a tiki bar pouring all your favorite potent potables. Inside, the deceptively large bar offers areas for music (occasionally featuring live entertainment) as well as video monitors usually displaying sporting events. Even better, you'll find plenty of corners for conversation. This place is so spacious that even at peak times you never get the cramped, jostled feeling that plagues so many other establishments. If munchies are required, BackYard Beach Bar offers a full menu of sandwiches, pastas and fried bar favorites.

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