In this week's print edition, along with an awesome profile of 69-year-old regular concert attendee John Ferguson, you'll find a Daniel Rodrigue-penned tribute of sorts to R.L.'s Blues Palace #2, the revered, but oft-forgotten, South Dallas institution that remains as badass as ever.
Daniel did a fine job of painting the scene. But, having joined him on one of his recent treks there, I wanted to add a little of my perspective on the place.
Long story short: You need to check this place out. It's amazing. Maybe it's just that I've been listening to KKDA-AM 730 Soul 73 pretty much non-stop lately, which probably makes me more susceptible to being enticed by R.L.'s Blues Palace #2 vibes, but the place is a throwback the likes of which you really won't see elsewhere in much of the Dallas music scene.
Mostly, that's because, well, it isn't a part of the Dallas music scene. Here's an ugly truth about the Dallas media: With a few notable exceptions, we tend to ignore much of what goes on in the city's traditionally black communities. We here at the Observer aren't above this, and not in our music section either; the R&B and blues categories in our annual Dallas Observer Music Awards aren't exactly the most accurate barometers of these scenes in our city. Same can probably be said about out Tejano and Latin music coverage.
Dallas' hip-hop history is just one aspect of the city that's gone largely ignored in the past. Fortunately, it's starting to get its due -- in large part because the scene has become so big and so prominent that it can no longer be ignored. The city's blues, soul and R&B communities have it far worse these days, their storied pasts almost completely forgotten and, worse, largely undocumented.
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R.L. Griffin, the man behind the Palace, tenderly (but not angrily) hinted at this annoying truth when Rodrigue interviewed him for his piece. As Griffin sees it -- and he's seen plenty, having been directly involved in the South Dallas music scene as a venue owner for 25-plus years -- only once every six years or so does an enterprising journalist or two even realize that his venue exists. Former Dallas Morning News writer Bill Minutaglio, one of South Dallas' greatest music champions, reaffirmed as much when approached about the same thing.
We all know that Dallas, geographically, is a ridiculously self-segregated city. Which is a shame, really. Clearly, there's a lot that both scenes can learn from one another. Intermingling wouldn't hurt -- and not just inter-racially, but between traditionally separated neighborhoods.
For instance, I can't tell you how many times I've been approached by hip-hop groups looking to find talented players for their live backing bands. I've made some suggestions in the past where I could. But now I know as least one place where I can send these inquiring minds. Now I know to tell them that R.L.'s might be a good place to start looking.
If not for musicians, then just for some much-needed inspiration. On multiple fronts.