Before Mike Schoder took over the Granada Theater eight years ago, it was run with the same kind of protocol you see in too many mid-size venues — an impersonal sense of obligatory hospitality. The room was often oversold, and the vintage, 50-ton air-conditioning unit consistently underperformed. The theater was a hot, sweaty, overcrowded venue with no real personality.
Today, the Granada is arguably the best live-music venue in Dallas. Schoder and girlfriend Julia Garton, together with a very dedicated crew of youngsters and music geeks, run the venue with a balance of head and heart, as opposed to viewing it like some sort of income generator. They treat it more like their home, and it shows in the musical performances.
On October 2, Schoder, Garton and crew threw a hell of a party to celebrate eight years of changing the way Dallas listens to music.
Pictured here: Josh Syvrud and Jill Brown, two among the many who came out to party at the Granada.
“We used to come see movies here,” Schoder says of the theater, in the days before the property came up for sale. He and Garton loved the quaintness of the space.
Pictured here: Team Tomb was one of the bands to perform at the Granada's eighth anniversary party.
When Schoder and Garton toured the place prior to the sale, they “couldn’t walk around it enough.” The wheels in their heads really started spinning with ideas about what they wanted to do to bring the Granada to life.
Pictured here: Proud papa Kevin Bailey shoots video of his son, the drummer for Team Tomb.
A closeup of the guitarist from Team Tomb.
Schoder used to helm the mini-chain of CD World record stores in Dallas. He could hardly comprehend it when he heard the Granada space came for sale.
CDs were kind of on their way out, business-wise, and he was “just trying to figure out a new way to stay in the music business.”
Pictured here: Angus Wynne, Michael Schoder and Julia Garton.
A sparkling display of $5 CD's for sale during the party.
At the party was an open bar serving top-shelf liquors like Maker's Mark, Crown Royal and — danger! — Jagermeister. Among the draft beers was a selection from Deep Ellum Brewing Company.
Partygoers Wes Chambers and Elizabeth Rodriguez.
Granada enthusiasts Rachel Fresquez and Martin Donohoe.
JJ Mudd, Austin Gavlak, JT Mudd and Josh Smith.
“When we started, we’d get in at 8 am and leave at 4 am — and start that schedule over the next day,” Garton says.
The couple didn’t get much sleep before their first show in 2004. It went off without a hitch — but not before they put in a hectic couple of days upgrading PA, lighting and paint.
Pictured here: PVT, one of three musical performances during the anniversary party.
The old theater walls are 13-inch-deep brick — which made it costly to stave off the Texas heat. To compensate, Schoder would “run the AC on full blast for two days prior to a show, no matter what the cost was.” Finally, a little more than a year ago, they ugraded the AC unit, from 50 tons to 100 tons.
Pictured here: Richard Pike of PVT.
To celebrate the Granada’s eighth anniversary, Schoder and Garton announced they were hosting free live music seven nights a week at next-door Sundown. Three of those nights will have interesting residencies from a variety of local talent; post-humpday nights will be booked with live performances from some of Dallas-Fort Worth’s best up-and-comers.
Pictured here: Menomena on stage during the shindig.