Denton's DJ Nature calls each of his gigs "The Party" for a reason. Whether he's spinning on Friday nights at Zubar or forcing his hometown hipsters to stay up late on Wednesdays at Rubber Gloves, Nature packs rooms with the freshest live mixes in town. And we don't mean "fresh" as slang--his whirlwind blends of baile funk, indie rock and thugged-out hip-hop are full of tracks that have barely made blips in New York's DJ world, let alone in Dallas. Makes sense that Nature's a forward-thinker; before recently returning to town, the man did his duty in the ultra-competitive scenes of New York and Puerto Rico and worked high-profile gigs as M.I.A.'s live DJ and as re-mixer for various XL Recordings artists. Still, the rsum means nothing without a hot dance floor, and Nature wins on a weekly basis with a healthy spread of genres that gets guys and girls of all tastes dancing like fools. Party on.
It's one of those things you take for granted if you live here, sort of like the Statue of Liberty in New York or the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. The rotating bar at the top of Reunion Tower may seem like pure tourist fodder, but once you're up in The Dome, sipping one of their formidable margaritas and watching the skyline of Dallas creep slowly past the window, you'll forget all about the corruption and congestion that is downtown and remember that, by Crow, we have one bitchin' skyline.
Some comics are like grizzly bears, assailing their prey with vicious jokes. Others are like weasels, slyly creeping up on their targets before quietly taking them out with evil sarcasm. Corey Sutton is more like a puppy, all innocence and fluff until he takes a great big verbal pee right in the middle of your comfort zone. Sutton's got a boyish charm that is, ahem, truly boyish, since the Allen teenager is just barely out of high school. At 19, Sutton has perfected a shy, almost embarrassed onstage persona that makes him both endearing and surprising. Known to stuff his pockets with jokes written on scraps of paper, he might shamelessly pull them out, one by one, during his sets at Pocket Sandwich Theatre or Hyena's in Arlington. Sutton draws in audiences with his low-key, post-stoner demeanor. Blessed indeed are the meek, for sometimes they inherit the laughs.
Murray Street Coffee Shop
This coffee shop in Deep Ellum makes the most of a tiny space by going upward. In the small, loft-like space, the ascending stairs split two ways, into a living room area complete with funky furniture and a conference area with a long communal table for the more professional of midday online slackers. But seating can be competitive--either that or the commingling idea hasn't made its way to some Dallasites. Some people just don't like having to share a table or couch and simply walk back downstairs with their laptop cases unopened. Don't let that stop you. The soothing atmosphere of natural light and not-too-loud music makes for a relaxing kind of comfort where a neighbor is more than welcome. Oh, and the coffee's good too!
It's not often a Genesis music video will be followed by some campy obscure movie clip and then lead into the Aphex Twins. Joseph Howington transcends the DJ label by taking all the rules of mixing and throwing them out the window. Perfecting his set at the Fallout Lounge last year, he fits perfectly into the Cavern's mlange of not-your-typical DJs. Mixing videos and music isn't a new idea, but the random playlist Howington gives the upstairs lounge does one of two things: He will either entrance you as you sit and anticipate his next tune, or he will put you on your feet. The fun part comes when asking him to play a certain video. Will he have it or not? Hard to say, but buying him a drink tends to help.
Practical but adventurous, logical but entertaining, business columnist Scott Burns made reading about boring stuff like retirement savings, estate planning and buying the perfect used Airstream trailer a lot of fun. OK, if not fun, then interesting. Burns was not part of the financial establishment, so he had no vested interests, almost impossible in the business of financial advice where everybody's selling something. He thought outside the box. Instead of giving advice on earning an extra $500 a month, he stressed finding ways to cut $500 in expenses. And most important, Burns reported on research firms and investment advisors that normal people have no access to. Yeah, it's easy to glaze over some of the details involving consumption indexes. But with most business writers stressing how to earn more, invest more, spend more, it was nice to see someone write about how to live more simply. Guess Burns can take some of his own good advice now. He was one of the journos to do the recent buy-out thing, though his syndicated column will still appear in the pages of the DMN.
Is there a better way to describe the Theater Fire than "the Fort Worth sound"? It's the phrase co-songwriter Curtis Glenn Heath picks when asked about the "border sound" tag the band has received countless times, thanks to its blend of mariachi and country. But there's more than a mix of classic AM radio signals at work on Everybody Has a Dark Side. Singers Heath and Don Feagin honed their songwriting chops during years in local space-rock bands, and that experience is evident in this sophomore album's all-acoustic arrangements. From the ambient tones filling the air of the sparse "Civil Warrior," to the contrasting, poking notes of banjo, fiddle and vibraphone in the title track, the stories of Southern vulnerability match the sound perfectly. "Useless and awkward/Like a flightless bird," Heath whimpers in his loving ode, "These Tears Could Rust a Train." In this song, a piece of pure songwriting with living room production that allows an acoustic slide guitar to echo as much as his sentiment, the Fort Worth sound doesn't get clearer.
The Rose Room
The Rose Room is simply fantastic. With more than ample space for patrons, whether sitting at a row of tables, standing at the bar or flanking the stage, this place gets it right for high-quality drag shows. It's also drag queen heaven with a huge stage and even a dressing room. According to cast regular Cassie Nova, the previous accommodations were no bigger than a closet. There's irony in there somewhere. But with slick digs comes better drag shows, and the ladies give it all for your viewing pleasure. It's almost a shame the venue isn't used more for live music. Bands would probably kill to play here. But they'd have to go through Nova and the rest of the cast. And they have fingernails!
Nobody wants their tech support guy to be evil. It's emasculating enough that you can't make that 279-Error window go away, but does the guy really have to act like it's just so freaking easy? Dr. Emilio Bombay, the Star-Telegram's computer columnist, would likely answer a hearty "Yes!" to that question, followed by a long tirade about how you are, in fact, a blithering idiot. Yikes. Honing sarcasm down to a fine, fine art not seen in most major-market newspapers, Bombay manages to be both helpful and truly vile at the same time, as he responds to reader questions about tech problems, Internet privacy issues and the odd hardware bug. If you're like us, you'll always like the guy so long as you don't get any big ideas and write in. After one of his sharp skewerings, you'll tremble so hard at the sight of a Startle Gram you won't even be able to pick the thing up.
The first time we walked into Rogers Wildlife, Kathy Rogers was slicing up frozen baby mice. Their oozing red guts made us pause for a moment, forgetting why we were there. Then she showed us what the mice were for--barn owls that someone had rescued from a deer blind, barely downy and obviously helpless. Rogers seemed surprised that we wanted to walk around the place, but she welcomed us. The large property is home to an avian rehabilitation facility that treats songbirds and raptors plus a score of other animals Rogers has taken in as part of her USDA-licensed farm sanctuary. Rogers and her staff are always looking for volunteers to help care for the animals and the center. Not saying that any of our dear readers would ever be ordered by a court to perform community service, but if perchance you were, the wildlife center would be glad for your help.

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