Dallas Observer Music Awards

Some of DFW's Best Venue Managers Recall Their Favorite Bygone Venues

It's the 25th Anniversary of the DOMA. And while it's true that bands and venues come and go, many of the people behind them have been here all along. We asked a few of these long standing music veterans -- now behind the scenes at DOMA nominated venues The Kessler, The Foundry and Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studios -- about their favorite old venues.

Jeff Liles, Artistic Director/Talent Buyer at The Kessler Theater

The Bronco Bowl. People usually assume that the center of gravity for live music in Dallas had to be somewhere in Deep Ellum. While I spent many years there (born at Baylor Hospital, in fact) I'd still have to say that arguably the best Dallas live music venue of all time had to be the Bronco Bowl, which was located in North Oak Cliff. The track record there speaks for itself: The Clash, U2, The Cure, REM, The Smiths, David Bowie, Prince, Metallica, Peter Tosh, Elvis Costello, Public Enemy, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pearl Jam, Slayer, Bruce Springsteen, Beastie Boys, Wu Tang Clan, Skinny Puppy and literally hundreds of other amazing acts; in an intimate auditorium that held less than 3,500 people. Don't get me wrong; I will always love Deep Ellum. But most of these huge legacy acts like Bowie, Prince, U2 and Springsteen never played there.

The larger concert hall at the Bronco Bowl had perfect sight lines and great sound, and was part of a larger, "old school" entertainment complex that included bowling lanes, an archery range, a putt-putt golf course and a smaller 350-capacity venue called the Canyon Club. Getting to see some of these artists in a place like this - before they graduated to basketball and hockey arenas - provided countless amazing personal memories for thousands of people my age. (Trying to keep your balance while the entire audience jumped up and down - literally shaking the entire building - during a System of a Down show; watching the audience trying to rip Morrisey's clothes off; women diving on top of one another in an attempt to tackle a shirtless D'Angelo; that kind of thing.) Prior to the onslaught of indie rock artists that began around 1980 or so, the venue was known for hosting everything from acts like The Everly Brothers and Chubby Checker to Alice Cooper, Blue Oyster Cult and Grand Funk. The Bronco Bowl was the closest thing we've ever had to our own Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. And the scene outside in the parking lot before shows was always a blast!

Jeff Biehler, Bar Manager at The Foundry:

My favorite venues that are no longer around are Club Clearview and Bar of Soap. Clearview was sweet because you had all these killer bands like Liabach, for example playing that tiny stage, some of my favorite shows ever were in that tiny room. Bar of Soap for obvious reasons. Bands -- mainly louder punk type bands -- set up in the corner by the door, and usually packed the place out. It was an anything goes type of place. I saw Bob Log III there several times before he blew up, loved that place.

Christopher Jeffers of The Foundry

One of the best bar jobs I ever had was at the Muddy Waters on lowest Greenville. There were several versions of Muddys, but the one I speak of was the one that flew under the Barley House flag. When I started Carter Albrecht was running it. There were just four bartenders total, all of whom had been there for years. Carter booked the bands, and I helped wherever I could. It was the perfect storm of live music during that period of time. Bands like Pleasant Grove, The Lonlies, and Radiant all had month long weekday shows. Bands like Slobberbone and Boys Named Sue would use the bar as practice space, and we would open just as an excuse to watch and drink beer. And when Carter had forgotten to book a band he would just play himself, or with his band, The Sparrows. They were as close to a house band that you could get. The place was a shit hole, but it was our shit hole.

The location also played a big hand in its success. The crowd was a perfect mix of lower Greenville residents, musicians, and drunks -- like myself at the time. We also had the best jukebox in town, and Carter would change out music weekly. It was also haunted but that's a whole 'nother story.