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A food park for and by South Dallas is making a comeback. Now called The Sunny South Dallas Food Park, it's debuting at Fair Park on November 13 with a lineup of Black-owned food trucks and trailers, with plentiful options including vegan and non-vegan foods.

Previously known as MLK Food Park, the event first debuted in April 2022 as a month-long pop-up park on 1611 Martin Luther King Blvd. In June, it relocated to Fair Park, where it held court through the end of July.

Now it's rebranded by Do Right By The Streets (DRBTS), its organizer, to highlight its representation of the South Dallas community, paying homage to its nickname, Sunny South Dallas. DRBTS is a Black-owned urban planning and place creation group founded by urban planner Desiree Powell that focuses on land use, zoning, and placemaking in communities of color.

"The name change represents a new chapter of the Food Park's growth as we continue expanding the vision of a permanent safe space at Fair Park," Powell says in a statement.

"The MLK Food Park began as a temporary pop-up park collaboration between TREC (Texas Real Estate Council), Better Block, and DRBTS,” Powell says. "The shared goal was to bring South Dallas residents together to gather in fellowship, all while supporting local Black and Brown-owned food trucks and vendors and providing a space for economic mobility."

Vendors include Dallasized Cookies, The Confectionist Factory, Bri's Bakes, Banomnom Pudding, Candles By Mezique, Smith Spot BBQ, Happy Vegan, Moe's Delights, Royalty Soy Candles, Khristian's Lemonade, Sunshine's Wings & Catfish, Sacred Instruments Jewelry, The Cat Shack, Read with Dr. Wade, and more.

"The food park is way more than bringing a bunch of food trucks and vendors out for a singular event that brings a lot of attention then leaves," DRBTS' website notes. "We're dedicated to building trust through this space that respects the past to build the community South Dallas' Black residents truly deserve."

The schedule for The Sunny South Dallas Food Park will be monthly, with a break in the winter, running from November 2022 to July 2023, on the following Sundays from 12-4 pm:

  • Sunday, November 13
  • Sunday, December 11
  • Sunday, March 26
  • Sunday, April 16
  • Sunday, May 21
  • Sunday, June 18
  • Sunday, July 30

Parking is free at Gate 6/Lot 6 at Robert B. Cullum and MLK Jr. Boulevard.

Calloway's Nursery

Zoom in on Dallas' worst gardening monstrosity with Organic Randy

Lawn News

A Dallas plant guy is sharing some of his infinite knowledge on top-priority garden matters, via a special 3-part series that anyone can watch via zoom.

Randy Johnson, aka "Organic Randy," a well-known native plant expert who specializes in organic gardening, will host three presentations, beginning with one on lawns that's an absolute must-see.

A graduate of Texas A&M with a degree in Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences, Johnson has a business called Randy Johnson Organics, that offers native plants and seeds for sale as well as offering on-site environmental consultations.

He was previously horticulture manager at the Dallas Zoo and director of horticulture at Texas Discovery Gardens, and served as president of Native Plants Society of Texas.

He's a popular public speaker, giving talks on Native Plants, Milkweed, Soil Biology, Composting, Pollinator Conservation, and Edible and Organic Horticulture.

He also regularly posts videos on his Facebook page about native plants. Even if you don't care that much about lowland switchgrass or the leaf shape of a Texas redbud, he's fun to follow, thanks in no small part to a twang that's so fierce, it's almost musical.

But his perspective seems more valuable than ever at a time when the country is enduring a long spell of record heat and drought.

These are the three sessions, with Johnson's own descriptions. The schedule is tentative but the first one is definitely July 31, as follows:

  • July 31, 7 pm. Lawn Gone: The Environmental Disaster that is the American Lawn

This presentation discusses the origin and evolution of the maintained lawn, from its beginnings in Europe and England to its import and promotion in the United States.

I'll expose some of the environmental, financial, and social consequences of the seemingly benign lawn. Alternatives to the monstrosity will be offered.

I want to offer this one first because it's one of the few realms directly in control of the average person. They can implement immediate, positive management protocols without much hassle or expense. You can easily create both wildlife and human habitat by removing lawn and installing natives and food crops.

When I first put this presentation together, the stats I used for water use in Dallas County were 2012 numbers and back then it was 70 million gallons per day. In 2022, 350 million gallons of water are used every day, and most of that is for turfgrass.

Want to make a difference? The easiest place to start is with your own habitat.

We'll allow for an hour and a half since I'm long-winded.

  • August 14,* 7 pm: Habitat Design, Installation and Maintenance *tentative date

This is a presentation I do for The National Wildlife Federation discussing habitat design. I work with that entity installing school gardens for the Dallas and Fort Worth ISDs. It's great for those who've not yet done anything like converting or creating native habitats.

  • August 28,* 7 pm: Pollinators and Natives: An Ancient Marriage *tentative date

This one cements why we utilize native plants and largely avoid non-native plants species in our landscape designs.

I'm primarily an educator and I think these 3 presentations offer a nice overview of the philosophies and methods for restoring and/or creating native habitat. I don't use the term "wildlife habitat" because it's human habitat as well. Native plants serve us as intimately as they do wildlife — after all, we're critters too!

To join the zoom sessions, click on us02web.zoom.us/j/89219587755.

Photo courtesy of Urban Roots

Get up to speed on urban farming at free class and more Dallas news

City News Roundup

This roundup of city news includes two transportation tidbits, one on the high-speed train, another on a DART rail disruption. There's also info about a Juneteenth display, more banners in Deep Ellum, and a must-attend class on urban farming.

Here's what happened around Dallas this week:

High speed rail resignation
The CEO and president of Texas Central Partners, the company behind the high-speed rail project between Dallas and Houston, has resigned. Carlos Aguilar announced his departure via a Linked In post, stating he was unable to align stakeholders on a common vision for a path forward. Texas Central still plans to break ground on the 240-mile rail line, but is awaiting a ruling from the Texas Supreme Court that's been pending since January re: a landowner's claim that Texas Central has no right to take his land.

Urban farm demo
Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Dallas is hosting an event that will give people the opportunity to learn more about small-scale agriculture and see some urban agriculture projects in person. Examples of urban agriculture include community gardens, rooftop farms, hydroponic, aeroponic, aquaponic, and vertical production. The event is on June 21 at 6 pm, at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research & Extension Center at Dallas, Water Education Building, 17360 Coit Rd. It's free but registration is required at tx.ag/UrbanAgDallas. In addition to lecture presentations, there will be a tour of AgriLife Extension's vegetable garden and high tunnel.

Historical display
The original Juneteenth order forcing Texas to release slaves is now on display at the Hall of State in Fair Park. Called General Order No. 3, it was a proclamation from June 19, 1865, in which General Gordon Granger pronounced that all enslaved African Americans living in Texas were free. The only known original copy is part of the permanent archives of the Dallas Historical Society. During Juneteenth weekend June 18-19, the document will be available for public viewing in the Hall of Heroes at the Hall of State from 10 am-5 pm on Tuesdays-Saturdays and 1-5 pm Sundays through the end of July.

Welcome to the U.S.A.
In celebration of Immigrant Heritage Month and Flag Day, the City of Dallas hosted a naturalization ceremony in collaboration with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on Tuesday June 14. In the ceremony, 30 Dallas residents swore their Oath of Allegiance and became naturalized US citizens. The candidates came from 15 different countries including: Bangladesh, Burma, Dominican Republic, Eritrea, India, Japan, Liberia, Mexico, Nepal, Netherlands, Pakistan, Philippines, South Africa, Syria, and Vietnam.

DART rail disruption
Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) will operate shuttle buses instead of light rail vehicles between SMU/Mockingbird Station and Walnut Hill Station beginning Thursday June 23 through the end of service on Sunday June 26. Regularly scheduled light rail service will resume on Monday June 27. The disruption is so that DART can conduct concrete repairs on the elevated station at Park Lane Station and replace a section of rail north of SMU/Mockingbird Station. Shuttle buses will be operated by a third-party charter bus company and will not be DART branded. Passengers should look for charter buses at the red "Rail Disruption" bus stop signs located near each station to board a shuttle bus. Shuttle buses will provide service to each affected station.

These repair projects will impact Red and Orange Line passengers:

  • Red Line passengers will transfer to shuttle buses between SMU/Mockingbird Station and Walnut Hill Station.
  • Orange Line trains will only operate between DFW Airport Station and Pearl/Arts District Station. Northbound Orange Line passengers should board a Red Line or Blue Line train at Pearl/Arts District Station to SMU/Mockingbird Station, and transfer to a shuttle bus to continue to their destination.

More banners
The Deep Ellum Foundation has put up a new set of streetlight pole banners, themed "All-Comers," to spread the message that the Deep Ellum is for anyone and everyone, from artists Clint Mordecai, Favio Moreno, Hunter Moehring, Jessica Stewart, and Khafre Linwood.

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Dallas and North Texas counties under quarantine to save beautiful ash tree

Tree News

UPDATE 6/6/2022: The City of Dallas has been notified by Texas A&M Forest Service (TFS) of the confirmed presence of the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) inside the city limits and western Dallas County. The EAB is a non-native, wood-boring insect destructive to ash trees.

Dallas County now joins Parker and Tarrant Counties in a quarantine status, mandated by the Texas Department of Agriculture, that prohibits moving ash wood, wood waste, and hardwood firewood products from within Dallas County to other non-quarantined counties.

As part of an action plan, City staff will:

  • assess ash trees on public property
  • treat significant ash (24-inch or larger in diameter and in good condition, large groves of ash, etc.)
  • and remove infected or damaged trees that pose safety issues

According to TFS, urban tree canopy inventories estimate that ash trees comprise approximately 5% of the Dallas/Fort Worth urban forest.

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An invasive beetle that kills off ash trees has been discovered in Dallas County, and tree experts are calling for immediate action.

The beetle is the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB), a wood-boring beetle that targets all ash trees. According to a release from Texas Trees Foundation, the beetle poses a substantial threat to Dallas' urban forest, on both public and private land:

  • EAB kills unprotected ash trees within 2-3 years of infestation and can eliminate entire stands of ash trees within 10 years.

The urgency has escalated because, on May 19, the Texas A&M Forest Service confirmed the presence of EAB in Dallas County.

Evil beetle
Native to Asia, the emerald ash borer beetle was unknown in North America until its discovery in southeast Michigan in 2002. Since then, it has spread to 35 states including Texas, where it was first detected in Harrison County in Northeast Texas in 2016. It's since been detected in Bowie, Cass, Dallas, Denton, Marion, Parker and Tarrant counties.

EAB have a distinctive iridescent green and copper color, and a bullet-shaped body typical of buprestid beetles. There's a photo here. Don't be fooled by their cool colors, they're evil.

The beetle has gone on to kill millions of ash trees across much of the country. Ash trees are widespread in the United States and all 16 native ash species are susceptible to attack.

The beautiful ash
Ash trees are amazing. They're a perennial, so they grow new leaves every spring and shed their leaves every fall. The leaves are pointy and oblong, and turn a beautiful yellow-gold-red in the fall.

The bark has little diamond-shaped grooves, and the trees grow into beautiful shapes.

There are only good things to say about ash trees.

EAB symptoms
Ash trees beset by the EAB often have few or no external symptoms of infestation, but may include any or all of the following:

  • dead branches near the top of a tree
  • leafy shoots sprouting from the trunk
  • bark splits exposing larval galleries
  • extensive woodpecker activity
  • D‐shaped exit holes

The EAB is a considered a significant threat to urban, suburban, and rural forests as it kills both stressed and healthy ash trees. It's very aggressive, and ash trees may die within two or three years after they become infested.

Texas Trees Foundation's 2015 State of the Dallas Urban Forest Report found that at least 13.1 percent of all trees in the city are ash, or approximately 2 million ash trees across Dallas.

In the Great Trinity Forest, 23 percent of the tree population is at risk.

The Texas Trees Foundation is calling for the city of Dallas to take proactive steps, starting with an assessment of the condition and location of the ash trees on public property, including the Trinity Forest.

Private homeowners/landowners are also crucial to effectively combating EAB.

Keeping the ash trees alive
The most effective mitigation strategy is to slow the spread using a SLAM approach (SLow Ash Mortality). This strategy includes:

  • monitoring ash trees for EAB
  • injecting ash trees with systemic insecticide
  • removing low-quality ash trees
  • following quarantine regulations
  • replacing ash trees with different tree species to diversify the urban forest

Texas Trees Foundation CEO/president Janette Monear is urging the city to immediately conduct a tree inventory of publicly owned lands, to identify the healthiest ash trees for monitoring and to apply insecticide.

The hope is that this approach will slow the spread of EAB by reducing population size of the insect, preserving valuable ash trees of differing age and size, protecting Dallas tree canopy cover, and minimizing public costs overtime.

Texas Trees Foundation's urban forestry manager Rachel McGregor warns that EAB poses "a serious threat to Dallas’s urban forest," especially the Great Trinity Forest where most of the city's ash trees are found.

"We can mitigate this threat through a strategic, integrated, research-based approach, which is more financially and environmentally effective then just removing all the ash trees or letting them die," McGregor says.

Things you can do
Residents who have ash trees are advised to take the following steps:

  • Confirm/identify if they have ash trees on their property
  • Engage an ISA Certified Arborist to assess their ash tree and help them decide a course of action
  • If systemic injection treatment is desirable, hire a certified arborist with a current TDA pesticide applicators license. The most effective treatment is with a systemic insecticide injection of Emamectin Benzoate (this product is a restricted use pesticide)
  • Monitor trees for EAB – if the tree has been systemically injected with Emamectin Benzoate, the treatment will last 2-3 years
  • If ash tree removal is necessary, comply with Texas Department of Agriculture's EAB quarantine regulations

And to report an emerald ash borer, call 1-866-322-4512.

Photo by Michael Martin

Popular East Dallas farmers market moves to new address after 14 years

Farmers Market News

A favorite farmers market in East Dallas is moving: White Rock Farmers Market, which previously held court every Saturday in the parking lot of Lakepointe Church on Garland Road, has a new home, some would say a better home, in the parking lot of White Rock United Methodist Church, at 1450 Old Gate Ln.

The new location is effective immediately, beginning with the market's spring debut on Saturday March 26. The 2022 season will run every Saturday until December 17; hours are 9 am-1 pm.

The market was forced to relocate due to construction at Lakepointe Church, which is doing renovations to its facility. A spokesperson said that the church, which was formerly Lakeside Baptist Church until it merged with LakePointe in 2021, was unable to commit to a return for the market.

Market director Casey Cutler says she welcomes the relocation and is excited about the new partnership.

"White Rock United Methodist Church has been so welcoming to us and are really taking us in," Cutler says. "They love the value the market gives to the community and want to be a part of it."

She's also receive heartwarming support from her new neighbors.

"The Little Forest Hills Neighborhood Association has also been really great partners and have been working with us as well," she says.

White Rock Farmers Market is part of Good Local Markets, the producer-only farmers market organization, and has been open every Saturday from spring through early winter for 14 years. They showcase all-local produce, meats, eggs, bread, pastries, honey, pickles, jams, and specialty foods as well as local artisans featuring handmade crafts.

Buoyed by their success, Good Local Market launched a second weekend market in 2019: Lakewood Village Farmers Market, which is held on Sundays at 6424 E. Mockingbird Ln. from 9 am-1 pm. In the 2022 season, they'll be there through July 31. So if you miss your Saturday shopping at White Rock, you can head over to Lakewood Village on Sunday, ba-da-bing ba-da-boom.

Vendors include Along Came Tamales, Bohemian Shepherdess, Chandler Family Farm, Demases Farm, Highway 19 Farm, Hippos and Hashbrowns, Jersey Girls Milk, Lost Ruby Ranch, Juha Ranch, Texas Honeybee Guild, Leila’s Bakery, Rowlett Coffee Roasters, Texas Fungus and several others local artisans.

For 2022, they're adding an exciting new vendor: Jubilant Fields Farms, which calls itself a "farm salad bar," growing everything you would use for a salad including salad mixes, microgreens, tomatoes, carrots, and other produce to make the perfect farm fresh salad. They'll also be in the lineup of Good's Sunday market.

"He's actually a teenager!" Cutler says, referring to Jubilant's 17-year-old founder, Dawson Mehalko.

All Good Local vendors are certified local, no resellers no distributors. Good Local Markets requires that vendors come from 150 mile radius of Dallas and must grow or make their own products. Good Local staff even visits each farm and ranch to ensure locally grown and ethically raised.

Photo by Jane Howze

Tiptoe through the tulips at this annual flowery fest in Waxahachie

Flower News

A flower festival mounts a comeback this spring: Called Tulipalooza, it's an annual charity fundraiser in Waxahachie specializing in tulips, and this year will take place at the Waxachachie Civic Center from March 19-28.

There'll be a quarter million tulips imported from Holland. Although actually, that should say tulip bulbs. They import the bulbs, then grow them in Waxahachie into flowers, which the likes of you and me can buy.

The tulip farm first opened in spring 2019, and describes itself as the biggest tulip farm in the Waxahachie area, not likely a claim anyone would dispute.

Tulipalooza is a venture by Poston Gardens Foundation, to raise money to fund scholarships at Daymark Living, a residential community for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

The 2020 festival happened right when the world shut down to the COVID-19 quarantine. The tulips were still there, but visitors were not allowed and fundraising efforts shriveled due to the lack of traffic.

Nonetheless, they still raised enough money to fund three, four-year scholarships.

And Tulipalooza also provides volunteer and work opportunities for residents of Daymark Living.

This year, they'll share the venue with 12 other North Texas charities so they can raise awareness and necessary funds for charity; 100 percent of the proceeds from ticket and tulip sales will go to charity.

The charities participating in Tulipalooza will include:
• Act
• Best Buddies
• Catholic Charities of Dallas
• Easter Seals
• Goodwill Industries of Dallas, Inc.
• Minority Entrepreneurship Institute
• Poston Gardens Foundation
• The Rise School of Dallas
• Special Olympics of Texas
• The TouchDown Club of Dallas
• United Way
• YMCA Dallas

"It’s really inspiring to be part of this group of North Texas charities banding together to create a one-of-a-kind fundraiser that supports multiple missions to improve the lives of many underserved populations,” says John Poston, Founder of Poston Gardens and Daymark Living, in a statement. "After having to end the season early due to COVID in 2020, we are really looking forward to welcoming guests to enjoy our tulips in full bloom this year."

Tulipalooza will be open rain or shine from 10 am-7 pm. Tickets are $20 for adults, and $5 for children two and up on weekends; on weekdays, it's $15 for adults.

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These are the 8 best things to do in Dallas this weekend

Weekend Event Planner

As we inch closer to the big holiday of the season, there are plenty of events taking place, but fewer and fewer new ones. This weekend around Dallas will feature a trio of concerts, a national tour of Broadway musical, a holiday festival, versions of both A Christmas Carol and The Nutcracker, and a visit from a Food Network star.

Below are the best ways to spend your precious free time this weekend. Want more options? Lucky for you, we have a much longer list of the city's best events. Looking for the best Christmas lights in town? That list is here.

Thursday, December 8

Punch Brothers and Béla Fleck: My Bluegrass Heart
Two mainstays in the bluegrass music genre, the Punch Brothers and Béla Fleck, will team up for this special concert. Punch Brothers have been at the top of the bluegrass charts since their debut in 2008, which each of their eight albums or EPs landing at No. 1 or 2. Fleck has boldly gone where no banjo player has gone before, a musical journey that has earned him 15 Grammys in nine different genres. My Bluegrass Heart is his first bluegrass tour in 24 years. They'll play at Majestic Theatre.

Broadway Dallas presents Six
Divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived. From Tudor Queens to Pop Princesses, the six wives of Henry VIII take the mic to remix 50 years of historical heartbreak into an exuberant celebration of 21st century girl power. The national tour of the Broadway musical Six runs through December 25 at Winspear Opera House.

Friday, December 9

Old City Park presents 50th Annual Candlelight
Old City Park will present its 50th Candlelight, the longest running holiday event in Texas. There will be over 13 acres of decorated buildings, strolling carolers, craft vendors, food trucks, and crafts for kids on Saturday and Sunday. The weekend kicks off with Cocktails by Candlelight on Friday. At the 21+ event, guests can enjoy drinks at the park while they see a sneak peek of Candlelight. There will be vendors, Victorian Carolers, drinks, snacks, music, and more.

Company of Rowlett Performers presents A Christmas Carol
Company of Rowlett Performers will present their version of A Christmas Carol, which recounts the story of Ebeneezer Scrooge, an elderly miser who is visited by the ghost of his former business partner, Jacob Marley, and the spirits of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come. The production runs through December 17 at Plaza Theater in Garland.

Avant Chamber Ballet presents The Nutcracker
Avant Chamber Ballet will present its production of Paul Mejia’s The Nutcracker with live orchestra. The production features Tchaikovsky’s timeless score conducted by Brad Cawyer, ACB’s professional dancers, bright young stars chosen from schools across Dallas, unique sets and costumes, and the Arts District decked out with the season’s best. There will be five performances through Sunday at Moody Performance Hall.

Zoé in concert
Mexican rock band Zoé has made waves in both their native country and the United States over the past 20 years. Since 2001, they've released seven albums - most recently 2021's Sonidos de Karmática Resonancia - with three of them being nominated for Best Latin Rock Album at the Grammys, nabbing one award. They'll play at the Music Hall at Fair Park.

Saturday, December 10

Alton Brown Live: Beyond The Eats – The Holiday Variant
Television personality, author, and Food Network and Netflix star Alton Brown comes to Dallas as part of his Alton Brown Live: Beyond The Eats – The Holiday Variant tour. His latest production mixes together science, music, food, and festive fun into two hours of pure entertainment. The event will be at the Music Hall at Fair Park.

Kings Return in concert
Kings Return is a vocal band of brothers made up of Gabe Kunda, Vaughn Faison, J.E. McKissic, and Jamall Williams. At this concert at Lewisville Grand Theater, they'll perform fan favorites, alongside tracks from their Merry Little Christmas EP and their debut album, Rove. They will also be sharing stories behind their favorite Christmas songs.

Photo by Jordan Fraker

Avant Chamber Ballet presents The Nutcracker with a live orchestra at Moody Performance Hall, December 9-11.

Family-owned burger chain hits ritzy Dallas neighborhood shopping center

Burger News

A small fast-casual Dallas burger chain is about to get a little bigger: Haystack Burgers & Barley is opening a location in Dallas' Preston Forest Shopping Center, at 11700 Preston Rd #732. They're going into what was previously an art gallery, and according to a release will open December 12.

Haystack is from husband-and-wife Kevin and Jenny Galvan, who launched the concept in 2013. Jenny has a sales and marketing background which complements Kevin’s food and beverage expertise. He's the fourth generation in his family to own and operate restaurants, and has worked for Houston’s and Pei Wei.

This marks the fifth Haystack, joining locations in Richardson, Lakewood, Hillcrest Village, and Frisco. Even though they're a chain, Kevin says in a statement that they love being a part of the local community and make each location unique to the neighborhood.

The menu consists of burgers, sandwiches, salads, appetizers, and milkshakes.

Starters include fried pickles, fried mozzarella, chicken stuffed jalapeños, and chips with salsa, queso, and guacamole. The stuffed jalapeños and queso are third-generation recipes from Kevin’s family.

Burgers come topped with ingredients such as bacon, haystack onions, cheddar cheese, barbeque sauce, American cheese, 1000 island dressing, jalapeño escabeche, pepper jack cheese, chipotle mayo and, in the case of the Chicken Fried Burger, jalapeño-bacon cream gravy.

Other sandwiches include a Reuben, grilled cheese, chicken sandwich with Swiss cheese, and a hot dog on a challah bun topped with chili, cheddar, relish, and haystack onions.

On the "barley" side are a dozen beers on tap featuring rotating local DFW beers. Exclusive to the Preston Hollow location will be four wines on tap, 2 reds and 2 whites. Their signature cocktail is a frozen drink with Maker’s Mark, orange juice, lemonade, and tea.

The location has seating for 99 inside plus a 500-square-foot patio with seating for 44.

“Kevin and I do all of the design work ourselves and it is one of our favorite parts of owning Haystack," Jenny says. "We make sure each location has a unique design that fits the personality of the neighborhood.”

Dallas musician Jess Barr, one-time guitarist for Slobberbone, dies at 46

RIP Jess

A Dallas-Fort Worth musician and club owner has died: Jess Barr, who was a member of seminal alt-country rock band Slobberbone, passed away on the night of December 5; he was 46. Friends of the family said he suffered from a heart condition.

A native of Pensacola who also lived in West Texas and New Jersey, Barr was guitarist for Slobberbone during its heyday, when the quartet put its hometown Denton on the map and created a vibrant local scene at bars like the Barley House. He also played with a Slobberbone offshoot band, The Drams.

Slobberbone helped coalesce the rising alt-country genre of the '90s, touring with acts like Son Volt, Drive By Truckers, and even pop acts like Cheap Trick, performing to rapt audiences both nationally and abroad.

Barr joined Slobberbone following the 1997 release of their second album, Barrel Chested.

“Jess had a full-ride scholarship in Austin, but he quit to join us,” recalled singer Brent Best.

His tagline was "Jessie Barr on the shiny gold guitar" — referring to his signature Les Paul.

In 2014, he left the band with the blessing of Best and band mates Brian Lane and Tony Harper, who lauded him for the contributions he'd made on albums like Everything You Thought Was Right Was Wrong Today ("especially the solo he did on 'Josephine'," they said).

When he left, fans fretted that whoever replaced him might not follow his patented stance of pointing his finger in the air. "Will the new guy do that point thing Jess does?" one asked.

In 2013, he opened Twilite Lounge, a bar in Deep Ellum, with partner Danny Balis, then opened a spinoff in Fort Worth in 2017. Both earned best bar awards and provided a platform for local musicians — another of his legacies, says Jimmy Morton, his partner at the Fort Worth location.

"Helping local bands is one thing that Jess, Danny, and I all championed," Morton says.

As a tribute to his passing, Twilight Lounge closed both locations on December 6.

"We closed both Twilite Lounge Dallas and Fort Worth, to honor him and allow his family, and our own, an opportunity to grieve," Morton says. "We turned our lights off and went dark."

Morton, whose friendship with Barr goes back more than 20 years to the Barley House days, says that Barr was celebrated not only as a skilled guitarist and banjo player but also for his personable, down-to-earth disposition.

One friend called him "one of a kind — nicest guy you could meet who would always remember where the conversation left off." Another said, "Jess always had the warmest smile and quickest wit. And he could solo like a badass."

"He was a super low-key guy," Morton says. "We would always joke that when he got on stage, he would turn into 'rock star Jess'," he says.

Barr is survived by his wife Ashley, son Liam, and sister Amy. Services are still to be announced.