It’s easy to forget that Dallas has had more than one musical influence in its time and its location in the southern states means that blues made a home here a long time ago. Deep Ellum actually comes from “Deep Elm Street” and although you might not realize it Dallas is as famous for its blues scene as just about any other city in the southern states. The original blues style that migrated here slowly changed over time into what became known as “Texas Blues” instead.
In venues like The Harlem and The Palace locals could come see blues legends like Bessie Smith, Blind Lemon Jefferson and the incredible Robert Johnson play. Deep Ellum isn’t just some copy of a blues scene – this was the entire blues scene for the Dallas/Forth Worth area. In fact Deep Ellum even got included in a lot of blues songs over the years – including songs by Blind Lemon Jefferson.
Unfortunately Deep Ellum had mixed fortunes over the years but it still retains its name and with the opening of Life in Deep Ellum in 2007 which has a coffee bar, live music, performance venue and a large gallery and the Deep Ellum Brewing Company opening in 2011 there’s still a lot to see and enjoy here. Plus there have also been a lot of new bars and clubs opening in the area lending this venerable part of Dallas a new lease of life.
What most people miss out on seeing are the 20th century storefronts, which you can only find in Deep Ellum and nowhere else in the city – these storefronts alone being worth preserving as part of the history of this part of downtown Dallas.
Deep Ellum won’t add to your life in any specific way if you’re living in Dallas but with the current revival in the area it’s nice to know that your hometown was somewhere that the blues music scene in the United States first flourished.