On Friday night at 2811 Main St., singer Dalton Domino and his band lit up The Blue Light Dallas, Deep Ellum’s newest country-geared music venue. With a variation of hard-swinging country and bluesy Southern rock, Domino’s energetic set had listeners hollering and two-stepping.
Headlining the free inaugural show, the Lubbock native carried his soulful voice on Blue Light’s 24-by-16-foot stage. As pairs danced in front of the stage, Domino’s band twanged up the room with signature Texas sounds, featuring a wailing guitar, drums, electric organ and fiddle. His performance spun Blue Light’s first show into a full-blown boot-scootin’ bash.
The 5,000-square-foot venue is inspired by its original Lubbock location, The Blue Light Live, which has hosted several country artists, including Josh Abbott, Wade Bowen, William Clark Green and, of course, Domino.
Many in Deep Ellum drove from Lubbock to see Domino rock Blue Light’s new sister joint in Dallas.
During the show, he had the South Plains-heavy crowd chant “Raider power, Raider power,” in call-and-echo fashion — an ode to Texas Tech.
The Blue Light keeps some of the looks from its Lubbock version. Its back wall mural, painted by Lubbock-based No Dry County guitarist Bristen Phillips, depicts northwest Texas’ landscape, while two Texas Tech flags hang from the ceiling above the stage. Like the original, its wood-paneled bar has a Coca-Cola sign painted above it.
A short walk from Pecan Lodge, the main room holds a rustic charm with cowboy artwork and a Lone Star beer sign pinned to its redbrick walls. During opening night, bartenders busily poured booze and waitresses brought gals and gents beer buckets. They also served tamales, sliders and other small food items from the bar’s cooking station.
Although opening night was packed, the place holds up to 400 patrons with over a dozen wooden high-top tables to sit and plenty of floor space. The house also does good by accommodating all guests with male, female and gender-neutral restrooms.
Dim lighting complements Blue Light’s casual atmosphere. Before musicians strum their first chords, the stage is lit blue. Once performers are ready to play, the blue lights turn into hues of pink. Despite sound techs having to tweak mic outputs the first night, the sets sounded vibrant.
Singer-songwriters Chris Canterbury and Brandon Adams opened with a dual acoustic set. Their set was softer than Domino’s but just as powerful. Adams, a right-handed guitarist from Lubbock, and Canterbury, a lefty from Louisiana, both sang a string of heartfelt songs comprised of tear-jerking lyrics. Adams also sang his rendition of Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams” along with an uplifting weed tune toward the end of the set. Both singers fit the Texas-folk style for Main Street’s new Americana-esque establishment.
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Laura Jane Houle, Domino’s violinist, who also backed him in a duet during the set, says the locale is a good place to foster musicians and their works. Houle says she got her start at Lubbock’s Blue Light and was not going to miss playing the grand opening in her hometown of Dallas.
Deep Ellum needs a new place for live country music, and Blue Light offers more than the average honky-tonk bar. It’s potentially the perfect medium-sized venue to showcase Southern sounds deep in the city. Blue Light is bigger than Adair’s Saloon, which has highlighted the neighborhood’s live country music for decades, with space to dance and an old Hollywood Western feel like the legendary Longhorn Ballroom. But it might offer something else.
Late-night bar hoppers strolled in the doors after Domino packed up his gear. The country vibes waned, and the dance floor lit back up as a DJ blasted dance mixes consisting of Snoop Dogg, The Jackson 5 and Britney Spears. With multi-colored strobes still spinning, the scene looked more like a dance club than a honky-tonk after the show. A couple of members from Domino’s group even boogied to Fifth Harmony’s “Worth It” with the after-show crowd. Blue Light is not a strobe-lit nightclub, nor is it a typical honky-tonk. The venue is simply a much-needed Western-style addition to Dallas’ most eclectic music hub.