I think that heading should be in the form of a question. Is Deep Ellum, the entertainment capital of North Texas if not the whole USA, surviving the CoVid19 pandemic? With the second round of mandates shutting bars and reducing restaurant capacity to 50% from 75%, will we see our beloved community, steeped in music return in 2020?
Since March 13th, the majority of Dallas County was ordered to shelter in place and help flatten the curve, or in other words, slow the spread of what was then thought to possibly stack patients to capacity filled hospitals and require major metropolitan cities to have thousands of ventilators on hand to treat the sick.
And just like that, the bars, nightclubs, restaurants, and shops began closing their doors. No one questioned this, for once, we all listened to our elected officials and retreated to our homes and shut the door. We’ve donned masks, rubber gloves, essentially shopped only when we needed something, and for the majority of 2020, we have stayed inside, cleaning our homes from top to bottom all the while obeying the rules. We played nicely with the other children and quietly agreed to not come out of our homes until it was safe. We watched the Coronavirus Updates as simultaneously the virus spread from NYC, west. We watched it spread down California’s coast and saw it bleed into the heart of our nation.
Deep Ellum, my neighborhood, went from a bustling area full of bars, nightclubs, restaurants frequented by people everyday of the week, well, almost daily: 6 out of 7 days a week, to nothing. Literally, overnight our beautiful and electric neighborhood became a ghost town with windows and doors boarded up with plywood.
No matter where you are on this big rock, you’ve felt the pangs of the CoVid19, coronavirus, bat flu, CCP, China Virus, or plague, as it is. As Texas began the process of reopening the economy, those of us in the music industry are at the back of the line and have been patiently waiting for the ready light to flash, blink, or just turn on for heavens sake- signaling it’s our turn.
Our survival as a music and entertainment district or area of Downtown Dallas depends on sound. We draw our life-source from electric guitars, screaming fans singing along with bands and music from every corner. That energy pops the bottle tops, heats up ovens and griddles, and draws in visitors. While bars, venues, and eateries waved their white flags back in March, as we reopened industry segments in May, we were asked to retreat again at the end of June. This time, I’m not sure that curbside and to go mixed drinks will be able to save Deep Ellum. Especially after the protests turned to riots and so much of our neighborhood was literally destroyed under the guise of a “peaceful protest”.
That part of the account of the neighborhood will have to come at another time though Loves. I am still trying to wrap my head around those events that almost destroyed our community.
The Reopening Before Having to Close Again
Lights come through, shining to indicate the end of the tunnel is approaching and while we all love that anticipation of being able to bask in the light, there are times when another tunnel appears without warning. Luckily for some of us in Deep Ellum, we had a reprieve and we got to particiapate in live music again!
While it might seem like a carrot that was dangled in front of us, it’s my take to look at that instance in a positive light. We were given a little sample of cake before the “surge” hit and I think it was just enough to maybe say, “be patient, it will happen…”. I wish that voice would have said when though, right? Alas, the spirit world isn’t like that. They might have large chickens, they don’t tell us everything about the future. Maybe because there are things yet to learn from point to point I would guess.
The Carrot Dangled Here
2017 saw the doors open for DEEP ELLUM ART COMPANY, a co-op in the arts, if you will, a mixture of art with community, conversation, games, and the area’s beloved music. With an indoor and massive backyard-style outdoor area, DEEP ELLUM ART COMPANY is a brilliant setting to show all of the gems that Deep Ellum offers.
It’s no surprise that DEEP ELLUM ART CO would be the place that kicked off somewhat of a soft-opening, so to speak. June 11th saw DEAC open the back yard to host a night of music, art, a food truck, and drinks. Local artists displayed their work in areas set up in gallery-vignettes throughout the venue allowing for the required social distancing. Picnic tables seating up to 6 scattered the yard and provided a comfortable space for guests to sit and enjoy the almost cool Spring night.
CHASING RENT was booked to play an acoustic set to round out the activities. Sitting in on drums for ANDY WEAVER, was local percussion guru, CHAD COCUZZA who would have been playing at the BONAROO Music Festival had the plague not shut the world down.
JEREMY NORVEL and CHAD COCUZZA pounded out a full set of music that filled the air as the sun blazed its way past the horizon, we all enjoyed their set with their own songs to some covers ranging from TOOL to ALICE IN CHAINS. I think we all just took in the music like an open drain because there wasn’t a sense of animals being set free from cages. It was more like the music gave more of a stun effect from a dart laced with tranquilizing juice.
Both JEREMY and CHAD are exceptional at their craft and entertaining an audience. What was literally an over sized bongo-ish style drum and an acoustic guitar seemed like a full orchestra to my ears. I enjoyed the original feel of the duo’s music, even in the tribute songs. CHASING RENT is a group that I hope to see more of when the plague has burned through Dallas and we can go to more shows. I’m also looking forward to seeing what CHAD has up his sleeve that comes so naturally down in the form of music and beats from his hands!
Keep an eye out for DEEP ELLUM ART COMPANY once things open back up as I’m sure their indoor and outdoor spaces will be utilized to the fullest! I love hanging out at this venue/art gallery/outdoor backyard!
Til Next Time – MRML – Cherri
Photo Credits: All photos (c) 2020 CherriBird.com.