I'm a suburbanite. Of course, I do spend a great deal of time in Dallas proper, drinking, eating and going to shows. But I live in Carrollton. I actually love it here, in fact. I'm not saying all suburbs are great - most certainly are not, but dangit-all-to-heck, C-town has a killer record store in Dead Wax, the best bathhouse-slash-café the Russian Banya of Dallas and the greatest of all indie beer stores around. It also is just a stone's throw away from Coach Joe's Hat Tricks, the bar and live music venue that every Dallasite should venture to the suburbs to go see.
Okay, Hat Tricks actually lays just inside the city limits of Lewisville, but it's so close to my neighborhood in Lewisville that it adds to my suburban bliss all the same. It's perhaps the prime reason a lover of music, cold beer and great pub grub can enjoy living in the 'burbs north of I-635. There's plenty of reason to pull your car into the non-descript strip shopping center Hat Tricks anchors.
Go to see a band, grab one of the insanely tasty brick-oven pizzas, watch a game on one of the many flatscreens or throw a few darts while you down a couple of shots and a couple of pints. Hat Tricks, as much as, or possibly more than any other place in the area, is able to be pretty much anything anyone could want in a true neighborhood joint. You know, if that joint booked Coolio and had regular blues jams featuring the best slingers our region offers.
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In this season of giving thanks, I'm personally thankful for a place like Hat Tricks. (Okay again; Thanksgiving already happened but I'll stay in the spirit if I want to, damn it.) Tony Avezzano, the owner and son of "Coach Joe" (a colorful, lovable man who's arguably the most popular Dallas Cowboys assistant coach ever and passed away in 2012) has given oft-overlooked Lewisville a place to be proud of, because there simply isn't another place like it -- in or out of the home of the Fighting Farmers. Tony and his father purchased the place in 2003 and began booking music there in 2005. Make no mistake, Hat Tricks has only gotten better with age.
Even with the current number of excellent live venues in North Texas, it's a near impossible task to find a venue as fearless as Hat Tricks when it comes to booking shows. The cream of the Texas music crop often skips larger venues to play with the excellent sound system at Hat Tricks. Just this past weekend, Cody Canada and the Departed, who can play the Granada Theater, Gas Monkey Bar N' Grill or Billy Bob's regularly, took the stage. Of course, that was just over a week after former Skid Row lead singer Sebastian Bach played to a happy throng. Plenty of local and regional talent performs there too.
In 2012, when asked by Lone Star Music Magazine about his seemingly unusual choices for talent, which has included 1990s alt-rock stalwarts such as Fuel and Filter, Tony Avezzano simply explained that he isn't afraid of booking the acts he liked in his younger days, which he still enjoys as an adult. Whether Lit, the Digital Underground or Everlast are considered cool by the tastemakers of today isn't a concern for Avezzano, which is refreshing beyond words. There's no required guilt in the musical pleasures to be had inside of Hat Tricks.
That complete, authentic lack of pretense is perhaps the single best thing about Hat Tricks. It's a neighborhood spot that wants more people to join in the fun -- because more than being a venue or a bar, it's a fun place. My favorite personal memories of spending time at Hat Tricks have more to do with hearty bro hugs, laughter and running into both long-lost friends and newly minted ones than they do with transcendent concert moments, though there've been many of those.
In terms of the music, don't be fooled into thinking the schedule is full of nostalgic shtick. The stage at Hat Tricks has hosted many a buzzed-about act, hip-hop hit-makers and serious nights of songwriting greatness. Over the past couple of years, emerging talents such as Jason Isbell, Lincoln Durham and American Aquarium have played there, as has Reverend Horton Heat, Juvenile, legendary songwriter Dean Dillon and Raul Malo, lead-singer of the Grammy-winning group the Mavericks. Tony Joe White, the swamp-rock King that was recently featured in the Foo Fighters' HBO series Sonic Highways, played there only a couple of months ago.
This week's schedule is a prime example of why Hat Tricks is such a reliably killer place. Tonight, People on Vacation (Ryan Hamilton and Jaret Reddick of Bowling for Soup) continue their new Tuesday residency, followed by Everclear front man Art Alexakis performing solo on Wednesday night, with Stoney LaRue (who recently released one of this year's best country albums) on Thursday night and a Journey cover band on Saturday night.
Simply put, there isn't a spot between Baylor and TCU where one will find that sort of a fun and perplexing schedule on a given week. And on that note, Hat Tricks' success is even more impressive when you factor in that there's so little else nearby to drive traffic its way, as the bars in Uptown, Lower Greenville or Deep Ellum enjoy. This could be a sweet college hangout, but UNT, SMU or even University of Dallas isn't exactly across the street. (A Pizza Hut and some rather bland apartments are.)
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The effort goes beyond keeping the bookings interesting, too. There might not be a wilder Bloody Mary bar around with, oh I don't know, 769 items that a hungover suburbanite can add to their glass of vodka and ice. The aforementioned pizzas are truly sponge-worthy and the burgers are as great as their drink specials are aplenty.
To steal a quote from Wednesday night's featured talent, Coach Joe's Hat Tricks has, for years now, effectively been "everything to everyone." And if you're coming from Dallas, it's a great place to find a good time while getting away from it all.
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