Dallas is my home turf, however I moved away 7 years ago, and am out of touch. I'm as interested as you are to hear the opinions of those presently living there.
I can say that by the time of my departure, the Jazz scene was not too active, nor were the local sources for professional instruments, accessories and services. UNT in Denton provided some young lions who performed locally, however the garage band, rock scene had more presence in the city in local venues and clubs.
Growing up in the DFW metroplex, the only major establishments offering a consistent diet of Jazz were Torelli's, Sambuca, Caravan of Dreams and occasionally joints around the UNT campus.
I live in Oklahoma City and have gotten a few gigs in Dallas over the last few months but they were not jazz gigs. However the people I have spoke with tell me the jazz scene is somewhat non-existent in Dallas, and that Houston is much more amenable as is New Orleans and Shreveport.
Houston is great, after Rita and Katrina many musicians evacuated to Houston and never went back. I am not limited to just doing jazz gigs, although it would be nice. And the money thing isn;t that much of an issue, but it would be nice to have a place to play close to home, if I decide to move.
Austin has a wierd music scene. There are a few jazz clubs and a few functional big bands, and a ton a killer horn players, thanks to UT being right there. But a typical night in austin is only worth on average $40. Most of the music in Austin is cover bands, SRV tribute bands or Screamo bands.
Dallas is definitely more of a Blues and Country Western town. Sambuca doesnt do much(if any) jazz any more and Caravan is long gone. There are places that pop up here and there that seem to start out as Jazz clubs but morph into R&B, Blues or something else. I moved there from Austin in 2002. Left there in 2007 but have been doing gigs there maybe once or twice a month. Been travelling around but moving back to that area in March. The money gigs are private partys. Theres a handful of cover bands that do quite well. I got a lot of work doubling on keys with those types of bands. Its easy for keys cuz if you just play whats on the record(which is usually easy) they think youre great, versus someone who overplays cuz they cant stand playing the same thing over and over. The other thing about Dallas is the size. Basically you gotta work the entire Metroplex, which is freaking huge. There are just as many venues as Austin but they are spread out over an area at least 7 or 8 times larger. The players there are pretty cool though. Its not near as laid back as Austin but the players arent as cliqu-esh(sp?) either. Dallas is way way way more hardcore than Austin as far as crime, drugs, and general evil tho. Hit me up with a PM if you ever wanna rap.--Chris
Just found this thread, thought I'd chime in, since I lived in DFW for 9 years before moving to Austin.
While I love Austin and appreciate how ready and willing its residents are to go check out live music all the time, Dallas is densely populated with freakishly good musicians. There isn't as vibrant a night life (especially for how huge the city is) as Austin, since there just aren't as many places to play and a smaller percentage of the population goes out to hear music, but many of the musicians themselves are world-class. There's a newer place called Brooklyn Jazz Cafe on the south side of downtown that features guys like Shelley Carrol (sax), Bobby Sparks (keys), Keith Anderson (sax), and J.T. Thomas (drums), who are all ridiculous musicians. You can hear them when they're not out on the road with big names. Bernard Wright (one of the greatest keyboardists and musicians who ever lived) plays at the Pussycat Lounge on lower Greenville ave, a few blocks north of Ross, and a killer funk/fusion band called the Funky Knuckles plays there on Mondays. On Wednesdays, Erykah Badu's band hosts a jam session at the Prophet Bar (Elm street at Good Latimer, Deep Ellum) that's hit-or-miss, but when it's good, it's REALLY good. Sometimes local heroes like Shaun Martin and Braylon Lacy play, and they're among the best musicians on earth (keys and bass, respectively).
So don't write off Dallas for music! It's a great music town, you just have to dig a little bit deeper... but when you do, you'll find one of the best scenes outside NYC.
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