The Longhorn Ballroom will reopen in March with Asleep at the Wheel, and later, Emmylou Harris

The sign of the Longhorn Ballroom lit up at night.

The exterior of the Longhorn Ballroom.
Photo: Emma Delevante

In just 58 days, the sound of music will fill the Longhorn Ballroom once more.

The stage that’s hosted Selena to the Sex Pistols will open on March 30, with a performance by Western swing band Asleep at the Wheel.

Edwin Cabaniss, who owns the Longhorn, said the band will kick off  a “soft launch period” for the venue.  The choice is appropriate since the building spent part of its history as a venue for Western swing legend Bob Wills.

“We first played the Longhorn in 1974, and for a bunch of young Bob Wills fans, it was a thrill,” said Ray Benson, Asleep at the Wheel’s front man and founder, in a statement. “I have seen the ups and downs of the Longhorn over the last 50 years, and am very excited and relieved that Edwin and his team are going to continue to honor the tradition of this special place, and make sure it is never forgotten or lost like so many other of Texas’ historic venues and dancehalls.

“To be the first band back on the Longhorn stage for the reopening is an honor and an opportunity I take great pride in having.”

Emmylou Harris will perform April 22. The singer has never performed at the Longhorn.

The lineup so far:

March 30: Asleep at the Wheel

March 31: Old Crow Medicine Show and Joshua Ray Walker

April 1: Morgan Wade, Lucero and Kaitlin Butts

April 22: Emmylou Harris

“Having presented shows in Dallas for the last decade, we know the people of Dallas deserve and will support a larger, hometown venue,” Cabaniss said in a statement to KXT. “With today’s announcement, we are sharing a small sample of what to expect, programming-wise. … During this soft opening period, we will be taking our time to make sure we have everything dialed in. There’s a high level of excellence that all Kessler Presents shows have and we are looking forward to giving that experience to patrons and artists in 2023.”

Tickets for the April 1 Morgan Wade show are on sale at 10 a.m. today, while tickets for the March 30 concert go on sale Wednesday, and tickets for the March 31 and April 22 shows go on sale Friday. Tickets can be purchased via the Longhorn Ballroom’s website.

The news of artists taking to the historic Longhorn stage comes a little more than four months after the Dallas City Council officially signed off on a financial commitment of just over four million dollars to help revitalize the languishing 72-year-old space.

As we reported back in September, Cabaniss worked closely with Dallas city leadership to secure financial help. Cabaniss is spearheading the restoration and re-opening project, which now has moved swiftly from discussions and dirt flying to dates booked.

“The Longhorn Ballroom is a monument to our city’s rich music history — a history that deserves to be front and center nationally,” said Dallas mayor Eric Johnson in a statement. “The Longhorn Ballroom is located in a part of our city that is primed for growth in years ahead. This is a wonderful opportunity to help preserve a piece of our past while building something new and exciting that is up to modern standards.”

Right out of the gate, however, the Longhorn is going to do as Cabaniss has maintained throughout this process: Build upon the foundation established by the Kessler Theater, which he also owns, and provide a next step for artists to take, as evidenced by Morgan Wade’s April 1 Longhorn Ballroom gig.

“Morgan Wade is a bright star, and when her show sold out the Kessler Theater, we knew moving her to the Longhorn stage would be one of those you-had-to-be-there moments for fans,” Cabaniss told KXT in a statement.

Preston Jones is a North Texas freelance writer and regular contributor to KXT. Email him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter (@prestonjones). Our work is made possible by our generous, music-loving members. If you like how we lift up local music, consider becoming a KXT sustaining member right here.