Music History

In 15 Years, Opening Bell Has Hosted Leon Bridges, Maren Morris, Sarah Jaffe and More

Founder Pascale Hall dances with her daughter the night of Opening Bell's 15th birthday party.
Founder Pascale Hall dances with her daughter the night of Opening Bell's 15th birthday party. Barbara Brands
It's been 15 years since Opening Bell Coffee, originally known as Standard & Pours Coffee & Stocks, opened its doors to the public.

Pascale Hall, founder of the coffee shop and music destination, says the shop has made an impact on local artists and has given the community a place to see live music. The shop has earned many awards, including being named one of the top places to see folk music by Good Deed Seats.

“It's brought a lot of musicians to light,” Hall says. “A lot of people that don’t normally go out and listen to a live music show will come here.”

Hall sold all her stocks to open Standard & Pours Coffee & Stocks, originally a basic coffee shop that had a stock market theme. Six months after opening, she decided to turn the shop into the music venue it's known as today.

Word spread, and it became one the coolest places to hang and enjoy music. In 2005, Opening Bell introduced Tuesday’s Open Mic series, and it's the longest-running open mic in the DFW area. Local musician Steve Jackson has been hosting it since 2008.

“There’s been really good music that comes through here,” Hall says.

Hall says she will never forget the lawsuit she faced during her first three years in business.

She received three letters from 2004-06 from The McGraw-Hill Co., which owned the financial-analysis company Standards & Poor's and wanted her to cease using the name. In August 2006, the company filed a federal trademark infringement suit against Hall. Hall decided to change the venue's name to Opening Bell Coffee.

The name may have changed, but the venue was still bringing in artists and introducing new music series.

In 2007, local musician Becky Middleton introduced the Songwriter Round series. Hall says she wanted singers or songwriters who were on the verge of getting big to have a chance to speak about the meanings behind their songs.

“The idea was based on musicians that play in town and don’t get to talk about the meaning of the lyrics,” Hall says.

Leon Bridges, Drake Bell, Sarah Jaffe, Maren Morris, The Milk Carton Kids and more than 20 contestants from The Voice have performed there over the past years.

“The last show [Leon Bridges] did was a Beatles tribute night three years ago,” Hall says. “I have every exact date and time that [the artists] have played.”

Local artists have found that performing at Opening Bell has influenced their musical careers.

Darren Eubank, vocalist and acoustic guitarist of D and Chi, a Dallas indie pop duo, says he discovered the venue from his friends and was curious to perform.

“I’ll never forget my first time,” Eubank says. “I turned around and almost went home before I went in.”

Eubank says the performance gave him confidence and an impact to push his music career further. Eubank co-founded D and Chi and in 2016 released Corners, their first album.

Wyatt Martin, a local artist, performs twice per month at Opening Bell.

“I'm a pretty seasoned performer, but playing only original music for a crowd that was listening to what you had to say did make me a little nervous,” Martin says.

It's helped him with his career by giving him a chance to meet some of other local musicians and get advice from them.

Eubank says it can be nerve-wracking for artists to get comfortable behind the mic, so he recommends they perform at Opening Bell to lose their stage fright.

“I find myself telling a lot of younger artists, 'Hey, check out Opening Bell Coffee open mic,'” Eubank says. “Ask any songwriter in Dallas about Opening Bell, and they’ll say the same things I’m saying today.”
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