Best Of Dallas

The 10 Best Blues Clubs in Dallas-Fort Worth

Texas music bleeds the blues, but finding a place to enjoy them in the Dallas-Fort Worth area seems nearly impossible these days. A younger generation of rising stars like Jason Elmore and Larry Lampkin make their guitars moan the blues like masters Lance Lopez and Stevie Ray Vaughan once did. They were baptized in Texas blues. But where to find them on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday night around these parts? The blues have gone so far underground that Google Maps has a hard time locating the clubs on the map.

So until a blues lover with deep pockets opens up a five-day-a-week blues club or city leaders finally recognize Dallas' musical heritage with an annual FREE blues festival (and maybe a statue of Stevie Ray Vaughan, Freddie King and Blind Lemon Jefferson), we here at the Observer pooled together a list of blues bars/venues that still showcase these lonely blues guitar slingers.

Mambo's Tapas Cantina 1010 Houston St., Fort Worth

Located below the historic Park Central Hotel in downtown Fort Worth, Mambo's Tapas Cantina is a place where you can often find some raw local blues talent wailing away on stage. With art decorating the walls and TexMex offered until 10 p.m., Mambo's has been offering a combination of good music, food and booze since 1969. It might not be blues every night but on the nights the soulful music does appear, Mambo's intimate setting will have you feeling the blues.

Cadillac Pizza Pub 112 S. Kentucky St., McKinney

"The feel of Memphis, the buzz of Austin and the spirit of New Orleans" describes this italian restaurant located off Kentucky and Virginia streets in McKinney. Since 2006, it's been offering the best live music in North Texas, with artists from every genre. Blues is often showcased in some form in this small neighborhood venue.

The Kessler 1230 W. Davis St., Dallas

Gene Autry once owned this historic concert venue. It's been hit by a tornado, rose from the ashes, became holy and then fell from grace. It's now opened to the public, offering memorable shows by some legendary artists. It's known as "the best 'listening room' in Dallas." It's a reputation well earned. Located off Davis Street in Dallas, the Kessler offers the perfect acoustics for a bluesman to wail.

Granada Theater 3524 Greenville Ave., Dallas

This historic Dallas theater has been showcasing music off Lower Greenville since the '70s. Originally built to showcase the Golden Age of Hollywood movies, now every genre of artist can be found shredding onstage. Upgraded lights and sound system does add to the experience, but it's the historic feel of the place that really sets the mood. Blues is sprinkled through the lists of upcoming events, like Lucky Peterson on Friday, October 3. Like the Kessler, it's a historic place that's perfect for any genre and essential for the blues.

Poor David's Pub 1313 S. Lamar Blvd., Dallas

This blues venue played host to KNON's 30th Anniversary party, providing a variety of blues masters from up-and-comer Jason Elmore to Dallas legend Mike Morgan. For 37 years, Poor David's Pub has showcased a slew of legends like singer-songwriter Jerry Jeff Walker, Grammy Award-winning guitarist Doc Watson and Grammy-Award winning blues guitarist Robert Cray. Follow South Lamar Street just off Interstate 30 for a couple of blocks to find this home of the blues in Dallas.

Stumpy's Blues Bar 501 E. Division St., Arlington

For 17 years this blues bar has been a fixture on Division Street in Arlington. It offers classic rock, blues, jazz and pop, and sometimes a combination of genres. Boasting a full bar, pool tables, darts and usable ashtrays, it's a nice place to kick back and catch a show. The Chris Watson Band is playing on August 25.

The Goat 7248 Gaston Ave., Dallas

The Goat is dedicated to the blues. Every Monday night, Tony & Perry offer a blues jam, and Aaron Burton plays delta blues and acoustic blues every Tuesday night. Located off Gaston Avenue, this neighborhood dive bar also offers karaoke and a host of blues greats, including guitar slingers like Lucky Peterson, Wes Jeans and Texas Slim who set the stage on fire with their blues.

Hat Tricks 101 E. Corporate Dr., Lewsville

A small sports bar in Lewisville is the only place you'll find a local blues legend hosting an open-mic blues jam every Thursday night. Lance Lopez not only hosts the shows but also jams on stage with a variety of special guests, like five-time Grammy Award winner Tim Alexander and Mark Austin of the Texas Blues Butchers, vocalist Kayla Rose Mary Reeves of Trans-Siberian Orchestra and Ana Popovic.

RL Blues Palace #2 3100 Grand Ave., Dallas

Parking in a strip mall next door to this blues palace is often a must attending the blues club off Grand Avenue in Dallas. R.L. Griffin is a Dallas Legend. He's an entertainer who draws crowds from all over the country. He channels a Muddy Waters vibe at times, and offers a host of ablums that proves "palace" is a well-earned reputation. The "Hen" dance is often showcased here, along with Griffen's R.L.'s Blues Palace Show Band.

House of Blues 2200 N. Lamar St., Dallas

One can't top a venue that's not only dedicated to blues music but also the spirit of it. With its voodoo spiritual images, red velvet curtains and upper balcony setting, this isn't just a house of blues; it's a church. Watching legendary B.B. King praying with his guitar was a unique experience, as he shared guitar picks as if he were anointing fans with holy water. Elwood Blues spearheaded the original house with a little help from "Brother" Zee Blues, offering a host of memorable shows by the Blues Brothers. Although the House of Blues shares the stage with other genres, it's still the perfect place to share the blues with the legends before they're gone.

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Christian McPhate is an award-winning journalist who specializes in investigative reporting. He covers crime, the environment, business, government and social justice. His work has appeared in several publications, including the Dallas Morning News, the Fort Worth Star Telegram, the Miami Herald, San Antonio Express News and The Washington Times.