As any music enthusiast knows, buying tickets to all those concerts gets expensive. Sure, those $10 bills at your favorite haunt get you through the week, but sometimes you don’t even have a Hamilton to pony up for your commitment to supporting local music.
Fortunately, that doesn’t mean you have to sit at home with your vinyl. Dallas is full of venues that offer up live music across a broad variety of genres every single week. Instead of shelling out your hard earned shekels on tickets, stop at one of these 10 venues and spend your limited dollars as God intended: on beer.
10. Poor David’s Pub
In addition to an incredible line-up of concerts (often ticketed), Poor David’s Pub is a great home for local musicians who are either learning the craft or figuring out exactly what they want their sound to be. Even the Monday open mic nights, a proposition that is always hit or miss, brings some damn fine live, local music every single week.
This Oak Lawn lounge combines the vibe of an upscale bar with the friendliness of your favorite dive, and just so happens to feature free live music almost every night of the week. The tunes here run the genre gamut — from acoustic to jazz to Cher-focused karaoke — which means that you’ll definitely be able to find something you like.
This Deep Ellum diner is the kind of place where musicians and artists like to congregate, so it’s no surprise that you’ll see them picking up their instruments to play in this ridiculously music-friendly environment. At least three nights a week, you’ll find DJs, bands and singer-songwriters setting the perfect auditory backdrop to that chicken fried steak you’re about to devour.
Just last year, this bar played host to country megastar Chris Stapleton — who is now selling out some of the country’s best theaters — just days before his star-making appearance on The Late Show With David Letterman. Suffice it to say that City Tavern is the kind of place where you’ll see shows that you’ll end up telling people about years later.
The patio stage at Lee Harvey’s is the kind of place that any band would hope for to find their footing. The crowd is friendly, the skyline provides a killer backdrop, and if the music sucks, everyone can just drown their sorrows in beer and tacos. Fortunately, though, the music rarely sucks, and it’s always totally free.
1807 Gould St., Dallas, leeharveys.com
The live music at Twilite Lounge is so good that it probably shouldn’t be free, but just go on ahead and thank your lucky stars that it is. Shows from artists like Sam Outlaw, the Old 97s’ Rhett Miller (and the Old 97's themselves) and other local faves are frequently packed to elbow-to-elbow capacity, which either means that we’re all broke or just really enthusiastic about good local tunes.
If you prefer your live music of the old-school variety, get thee to The Balcony Club immediately. This Lakewood bar is a real Dallas institution, what with its 1950s lounge vibe and list of storied jazz, blues and standards performers. If you’re a jazz enthusiast, make The Balcony Club a stop on your weekly rotation to here some of the University of North Texas’ Grammy-winning jazz band’s best players before they hit it big.
Texas country legend Pat Green is involved with this venue, so you know it’s going to be legit. The outdoor stage has played host to stars like Kacey Musgraves and Salt N’ Pepa, but you’ll be equally pleased with the lesser-known artists who grace this stage on a weekly basis. Notably, it ain’t just country that gets booked here — you’ll also find pop, R&B, and excellent local jams.
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If you don’t have the cash to pony up for a ticket at Gas Monkey Live, Gas Monkey Bar & Grill (or GMBNG for short) is one hell of a consolation prize. Like its bigger sister venue, GMBNG features incredible attention to sound quality, especially considering that its stage is planted in that awesome outdoor patio and right on the edge of a small, manmade lake.
Depending on what night of the week it is, you can see a relatively unknown new artist or a hot up and comer on the tiny stage at Adair’s. If the atmosphere is relatively chill (as it is on weeknights), pop in for a few cheap beers while you listen to a fledgling singer-songwriter hone their voice. On the weekends, you’re more likely to find Texas country circuit fixtures in a decidedly more raucous environment.
2624 Commerce St., Dallas, adairssaloon.com