The Black Swan Saloon is a thin sliver of a thing on Elm Street in Deep Ellum, but what it lacks in width it makes up for in depth. Figuratively and literally—the back patio's a shady place for a smoke, but Gabe, a Ghostbar ex-pat who opened the Swan this year, gives the place its soul. Behind the bar, Gabe pours little cocktails that taste a lot like sweet, sweet love—we're talking apple-cured whiskey drinks and mixes of infused vodkas fashioned from whatever Gabe picked up at Farmers Market that week. Miles away from the Ghostbar's crotch-thrusting epicenter of $30,000 millionaire action, the skinny little Black Swan Saloon has quickly become the neighborhood favorite for Deep Ellum residents craving a spot to call their own. Find patrons playing Pac-Man near the bar's entrance or just grab a stool and listen to Gabe ramble on about his LA Lakers—it's almost quaint, really, considering the Swan's thoroughly Texan spirit.
To call the Double Wide a "rock bar" is a bit of a slight. It's much more than a bar. Sure, it has a bar, but right across the patio from that home base, the establishment also boasts a bona fide concert room with a capacity of 75 (and there's another bar in there, by the way), and it's one of the best rooms in town to catch a show. Really, though, the Double Wide transcends both the "bar" and "venue" tags; for much of the Dallas music community, the Double Wide also serves as a home of sorts. Stop by the place any night of the week for proof. Whether there's a show taking place or not, you'll find a whole cast of local musicians at the spot, shooting the shit, tossing back some drinks and reveling in one another's company and camaraderie. Maybe it's because so many of them play shows there that they feel so comfortable in that environment. Maybe it's because those same musicians are so often invited back to host DJ nights. More likely, it's just the overall vibe of the place itself, which boasts an indisputable charm and an undeniably friendly staff. Sure, "charm" and "friendly" might not be the first things that come to mind when the idea of a "rock bar" is brought up. But ask any musician in town their pick for this honor, and nine times out of 10, the Double Wide's the response you'll hear. And that counts for something.
Look, we know how silly we look holding a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon. It's cheap, flavorless, crappy American lager that has inexplicably become the drink of choice for hipsters trying to affect some kind of facetious blue-collar aesthetic. But when we're at City Tavern, we're drinking it all night. Because for $4, you can get a shot of Jack Daniel's whiskey with a PBR chaser any time, any day of the week. Whether you're there for the simple but tasty fried bar grub or the excellent Home Sessions local rock, folk and country shows, be sure to keep both hands free for PBR and his buddy JD.
For years, Frisco residents have had to drive to Denton, Dallas or Fort Worth to hear worthwhile live music. Now, while you couldn't quite say the tables have turned, Dallas music fans actually have a reason to take their turns doing the 45-minute drive, and we're not talking about Jimmy Buffet concerts at Pizza Hut Park. Thanks in part to a booking partnership with Spune Productions, Lochrann's has started inviting original folk, rock and country acts to perform on its stage, including some of our favorite Dallas Observer Music Award nominees. In fact, the bill for the Oysterfest Gulf Aid benefit show September 25 includes the frontman of Old 97's himself, Rhett Miller, along with a host of other great acts. Here's hoping more Frisco bars follow suit and give the cover bands a night off once in a while.