Friday, February 19, 2010

Don’t be an “A” Hole, Join the “A” List and Drop by an “A” Club Today, You’ll Be Glad You Did!

Ok, here is the latest article for Lit Monthly (in it's unedited form). "A" clubs is the topic. Sorry about not having an article in last month's issue but I was asked to be bumped so that we could fit in a couple of specialty articles for the NBA All-Star game issue. It started out as a 1,700 worder, but I cropped it down to 1,500 here and 1,300 for the magazine, but I'm sure that Mark will cut it down to 1,000 by the time it goes to print.

Don’t be an “A” Hole, Join the “A” List and Drop by an “A” Club Today, You’ll Be Glad You Did! By Greg Holman

Just what the hell is an “A” club anyway, and why would I want to go to one? Well, “A” clubs or “A-List” clubs are bars that cater to a crowd who enjoys gyrating to live music from one of the area’s top dance/party bands, while window shopping the prominently displayed pieces of meat. The music is loud, eye candy is plentiful, and so are the drinks, and there is almost always a cover charge.

As much as I enjoy hanging out in my dive bars, I also enjoy “A” clubs for a change of pace and the quality of live music that they deliver. These clubs are not for the timid, however! They can become living, breathing entities unto themselves, moving, flexing, and metamorphosizing, based on the mood of the crowd. In some “A” clubs, like Memphis, you almost get a high from the combination of tight quarters, thumping bass, and the swaying movement of fellow club goers. But look out for those Rufie-coladas!

The bands that play these clubs are the cream of Dallas’ musical crop and many of the players migrate from one band to another, or play in several “A” bands at the same time, and all are in high demand. These are the bands that play the big corporate parties and major hotels, on holidays. They command top dollar because they deliver CD quality sound with every live performance.

I’ve compiled a small list of “A” clubs which is by no means complete, and certainly welcome your input. A list of bands that frequent these clubs also follows.

Dallas Area “A” Clubs:

Cool River
1045 Hidden Ridge Irving, TX 75038 (972) 871-8881 - Las Colinas is the location for this stand-alone steak house/high-end club which sports some very nice architecture and design inside. They’ve been booking great bands here for decades and serve up a mean slab of meat. If the guys get tired of the “club” scene on the dance floor, they have a comfy cigar lounge!

Glass Cactus
1501 Gaylord Tr. Grapevine, TX 76051 (817) 778-2800 – Wow! What a club. Big bucks went into this place. This overwhelming space occupies more than 39,000 square feet of the Gaylord Texan resort. With a sprawling multi-level deck overlooking Lake Grapevine, it’s a great place to arrive early, grab a bite to eat, and watch the sun set. After dinner you can work the calories off on the 2,000 square foot dance floor. National touring acts are regularly booked on the main stage, as well as DFW’s top dance bands.

Memphis – 5000 Belt Line Rd. Addison, TX 75254 (972) 386-9517 - Memphis has a close place in my heart and has been a live music institution in the DFW area, featuring the best dance/party bands for the past quarter of a century. Every popular local band from Dallas Brass and Electric (Top’s old band), to Random Axis, and Emerald City started playing here. Attached to, and sharing a kitchen with Shuck and Jive, you can get some decent Cajun food here too. The owners (once managers) Lenny and Jay are staples of the place and somewhat infamous themselves. Notice the brass name plates above the bar; you either have to know somebody, or buy a bottle of Dom Perignon to get you name up here (I just happen to know someone! Like I could afford a bottle of Dom…).

Sharky’s on Greenville* – 7402 Greenville Ave. #320 Dallas, TX 75231 (214) 361-5436 - The oldest continuously operating bar on Greenville has recently taken a sojourn into live music and has hit the ground running, booking many of the top “A” bands in town on the weekends, such as Top, Random Axis, Deneyed, and Domino Effect. The club is good sized and volume is dispersed allowing you to actually be able to have a conversation at the bar. They also feature live music several days during the week, so check out their calendar for updates.
*(Closed until further notice)

5100 Belt Line Rd. #760 Addison, TX 75254 (972) 726-6100 & 9100 N. Central Expressway Dallas, TX 75231 (214) 692-1111 - Being part of a national chain has its benefits, not the least of which is the ability to bring in great bands with no cover charge. There are several DFW locations, but here I will just mention the Dallas and Addison locations. These venues are winding, multi-roomed behemoths, with pub like atmospheres and pretty good food (I like their fish tacos). There’s a lot of cruising going on here, but it’s not overly ostentatious and can be easily avoided if you’re not “looking for a date.”

“A” Club Bands:

These are bands that have been rocking the DFW scene for years. All are certainly worth their salt when you want to boogie the night away. Visit them at their listed websites for performance dates.

Everyone knows Chee! But, if you don’t, he’s a first class guitarist that heads up Deneyed as well as playing for several other bands including the Cardinals of Sin. Deneyed takes cover music to a different level by adding their own arrangements to popular dance tunes, often giving them a bit of a funky, almost island or reggae-like feel.

Emerald City
The ultimate Dallas dance/party band, Emerald City has national appeal and has met with national success, landing a gig for President George Bush, in Washington D.C. A huge band with a huge following, they command huge prices for their gigs and are often booked for corporate events on large holidays. They do put on a great show and the horn section always rocks.

Good Question
Bruce Klein, a great guy and former lead vocalist for Random Axis fronts this lively ten piece show band that packs a helluva punch. A full horn section and two female vocalists make for an incredibly full sound.

Le Freak
Now this is a party! These guys have got it down, so grab your platform shoes, afro wigs, and white leisure suits, because straight out of Studio 54 comes Le Freak, with a full-frontal vintage boogie assault. A really fun show, the “Freak” will have you hustling the night away and laughing your ass off!

Mars Hill
Phenomenal guitarist Dave Barnet started “the Hill” shortly after leaving Random Axis and a successful soiree into Christian Rock. The band has grown into an 8 to 10 piece party band that will shake you to your rafters.

Professor D
Another long-time staple of the “A” club scene is the eight piece show band Professor “D” (originally Professor “D” and the Playschool). They’ve been audibly attacking DFW club goers since 1989 and show no signs of slowing down. They’ve been booked by every major sports franchise in Dallas for good reason; they sound great! Enroll yourself in the school of funk and take a lesson from the Professor.

Random Axis
Established in 1989, “R.A.” has been playing around DFW for a very long time and has seen more line-up changes than you can shake a lead guitar player at. One interesting note; long time sound man for the band, Michael Raupp also sings backing vocals, while operating the sound board.

Top (aka Topasana Sansom) has been fronting the best dance bands in Dallas for over 15 years and was the lead vocalist for Dallas Brass and Electric for years. His vocal range is astounding as is his female vocalist Rion. Top always backs himself up with “Top”-notch musicians.

While these clubs vary in age, condition, and location, the bands remain consistently good and offer more excitement in their live performances than a house DJ, playing canned music does. So if you’re looking to dance, browse some eye candy, or just want to enjoy some well executed live music, check out one of the clubs or bands listed. You surely won’t be disappointed.