Texas music bleeds the blues, but finding a place to enjoy them in the Dallas-Fort Worth area seems nearly impossible these days. 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, we've scouted out the 10 best music venues flying the flag for the Texas blues in DFW.
10. Stumpy's Blues Bar
For 19 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. Christian McPhate
This historic Dallas theater has been showcasing music off Lower Greenville for more than a decade. 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 do add to the experience, but it's the historic feel of the place that really sets the mood. Blues is regularly sprinkled throughout the lists of events, like when Jonathan Tyler rang in the New Year there last witner. Like the Kessler, it's a historic place that's perfect for any genre and essential for the blues. CM
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 the late, 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. CM
The Live Oak in Fort Worth is a converted Lions Club hall with a big, elevated stage, a modern sound system and first-rate lighting. The club’s in-house sound man, Joshua Jones, is one of the best in the Metroplex — and plays the rooms acoustics like a violin. Though not strictly a blues club, The Live Oak often plays hosts to local and touring blues acts — and if you if you’d rather ditch the smoky dive bar atmosphere (Live Oak is smoke free) for better sound and service, this is the place for you. Steve Watkins
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 open 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, and even the headliner doesn't play the blues you're liable to find a young bluesman like Charley Crockett opening for them. CM
1230 W. Davis St., Dallas, thekessler.org
5. The Free Man
A list of the best blues venues in North Texas would be criminally incomplete without at least one Deep Ellum venue. With its nearly 100-year history that includes the works of such legends as Blind Lemon Jefferson and Robert Johnson, this neighborhood is the cradle of Dallas blues. No other club carries on that tradition nowadays better than The Free Man. Every week, you can catch The Free Loaders, led by bar owner John Jay Meyers, play their Cajun-fried blues and the Stevie James Trio wail away on electrified standards. And those are just the recurring blues nights. Jeff Gage
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. CM
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. CM
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 almost four decades, 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 I-30 for a couple of blocks to find this home of the blues in Dallas. CM
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 alums 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. Only opened a couple nights a week for a few hours each, R.L.'s is a throwback to the blues' juke joints of yesteryear unlike any other in North Texas. CM
3100 Grand Ave., Dallas
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