Friday, October 16, 2009

Stairway to Freebird: An Homage to DFW Tribute Bands and Clubs

Here is the second article that I've written for Lit Monthly. It was written for the October issue. I also penned a little one-page blurb for one of the advertisers, Reno's Grill, in Deep Ellum.

Stairway to Freebird: An Homage to DFW Tribute Bands and Clubs

Led Zeppelin, Van Halen, Rush, The Allman Brothers, The Beatles, and Pink Floyd, performing live for only $5 each? You bet! When we can’t see the original band for one reason or another, a tribute to our favorite and sometimes defunct bands fits the bill just fine, and Dallas is at the forefront when it comes to the tribute band scene.

With concert ticket prices reaching the $150 range and old rockers dropping like flies, sometimes a tribute is the only and certainly most cost-effective way of recapturing the youthful rocking that we were once able to experience for under $10. I mean, I remember seeing bands like Boston, Queen and Thin Lizzy at the Dallas Convention Center for only $8.00 each!!!

Webster’s English Dictionary defines “tribute” as: a gift or service showing respect, gratitude, or affection and Wikipedia defines a “tribute act” as a music group, singer, or group of musicians who specifically plays the music of a well-known music act.

The first tributes to emerge appeared in the early to mid-60s and were primarily Elvis and Beatles impersonators, including an early Fab Four-inspired band called the Buggs, from Omaha, Nebraska. Marshall Crenshaw, in fact, got his first big break in 1977, playing for the touring Beatles tribute Beatlemania. A few tributes have even made it to the big time in their own right; Australian Pink Floyd and Dread Zeppelin come to mind. The Oasis tribute, No Way Sis, was once actually asked to play for a sellout crowd in Paris, which the holier-than-thou Oasis had just cancelled. As the tribute genre has grown in stature and quality, a number of big name acts have acquired replacement musicians, from tributes that have emulated their own sound, such as Journey, who found Arnel Pineda on You Tube, singing for a Philippine Journey tribute called “The Zoo,” or Tim “Ripper” Owens, the one-time singer for Judas Priest, who was found fronting a band in 1996 called British Steel, a Priest homage. Incidentally, Owens’ story was the inspiration for the film Rock Star.

Dallas has certainly had its share of tributes and the locals have always shown enough interest to keep them playing at live venues virtually every weekend, for the last decade. Some of the earliest bands to show up on the DFW scene are still in action, including Hard Night’s Day, the Beatles trib who just won the Observer’s 2009 best tribute band and Naked Lunch, the Steely Dan clone (one of my personal faves), recently named the best “Dan” tribute in America. The DFW tribute band tapestry is woven from a tight group of musicians, many of whom play in multiple bands, and fortunately, the quality of musicianship is relatively high with these guys (and gals). So, you can almost always find a really great show somewhere in DFW, on any given weekend.

Here’s a list of a few top local tribute bands and some of the venues in which they can be seen. Please check out each band’s or club’s website for more info and upcoming gigs.

Alcohollica - Metallica
The Almost Brothers -Allman Brothers
Anthem - Rush
Back In Black - AC/DC
Bebe Le Strange - Heart
Blaze of Glory - Bon Jovi
Boys Named Sue - Johnny Cash
Briefcase Blues - Blues Brothers
Child O’ Mine - Guns N’ Roses
Destroyer - KISS
Escape - ourney
Fast Lane - Eagles
Hard Nights Day - Beatles
Holy Diver - Van Halen
Judas Rising - Judas Priest
Lizard Larceny - The Doors
Lone Star Floyd - Pink Floyd
Naked Lunch - Steely Dan
Oliver’s Army - Elvis Costello
The One Percent Band - Lynard Skynard
Petty Theft - Tom Petty
Queen for a Day - Queen
Swan Song Led Zeppelin
The Thin White Dukes - David Bowie
Voodoo Blue - Stevie Ray Vaughn

DFW Tribute Band Venues
Bronco’s Sports Bar - 900 Airport Fwy - Hurst, TX 76054 Phone: (817) 498-0600
The Cavern - 914 Lower Greenville Ave - Dallas, TX 75206 Phone: (214) 828-1914
Dan’s Silverleaf - 103 Industrial St - Denton, TX 76201 Phone: (940) 320-2000
Dino’s Bar and Grill - 2707 Race St - Fort Worth, TX 76111 Phone: (817) 222-2608
Flying Pig Roadhouse - 531 S Denton Dr - Lake Dallas, TX 75065 Phone: (940) 497-3240
House of Blues – 2200 N Lamar St – Dallas TX 75202 Phone: (214) 978-2583
Lakewood Bar and Grill – 6340 Gaston Ave – Dallas, TX 75214 Phone: (214) 826-3888
Lee Harvey’s – 1807 Gould St – Dallas, TX 75215 Phone: (214) 428-1555
Lone Star CafĂ© and Club – 11277 E Northwest Hwy – Dallas, TX 75238 Phone: (214) 341-3538
O’Riley’s Billiards, Food & Bar – 8989 Forest Ln – Dallas, TX 75243 Phone: (972) 235-2781
The Pour House - 209 W 5th St - Fort Worth, TX 76102 Phone: (817) 335-2575
Sambuca – 2120 McKinney Ave – Dallas, TX 75201 Phone: (214) 744-0820
Skillman Street Pub – 9220 Skillman St #115 – Dallas, TX 75243 Phone: (214) 341-4022
Tolbert’s Restaurant – 423 S Main St – Grapevine, TX 76051 Phone: (817) 421-4888

DFW tribute bands offer a wide variety of musical stylings to suit just about any taste, and can be a buttload of fun to watch and sing along with. So dig out your old concert t-shirts, grab a lighter and some buds (either kind) and go support the next best thing to your favorite old (or not-quite-so-old) band. They’re most likely playing in town, this weekend. Rock on!


  1. Why no mention of Blizzard of Ozz (Ozzy Osborne tribute) or Maiden Texxas (Iron Maiden tribute)? Both of those bands do an awesome, accurate homage to two great bands! Blizzard played as the middle act last month at the House of Blues before Destroyer and after Blaze of Glory (both of which you mentioned). And also headlined a show at House of Blues the month before that with Alcohlica opening (that you also mentioned).

  2. THANK YOU TEXASFOODIE for mentioning almost all the tribute bands we represent! Let's not forget SOUL SACRIFICE (Santana) and the new Van Halen tribute SPANISH FLY! Also note: SWAN SONG (Led Zeppelin) has been around almost as long as HARD NIGHT'S DAY and NAKED LUNCH! LONG LIVE LED!

  3. Thank you for acknowledging us! We don't know of a lot of "Heart" tribute bands, and there are a ton of fans who follow and love their music to this day! We are honored to pay tribute to such idelible, timeless talents. Keep up with us at www/! Thanks again!
    - Nona ("Ann" - Bebe Le Strange)

  4. It’s hard to find knowledgeable people on this topic, but you sound like you know what you’re talking about! Thanks

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