What does Deep Ellum sound like today?

Labretta Suede and the Motel 6 perform at Trees in Oct. 2022, as part of the “Sounds of Deep Ellum” concert.
Photo: Karlo Ramos

In Deep Ellum, more than anywhere in Dallas, the past is prologue. The neighborhood has long been an artistic incubator, and that’s being reinforced as the neighborhood celebrates its 150th anniversary.

The non-profit organization Deep Ellum 100 is spearheading the release of the Sounds of Deep Ellum live album, which captured performances from 10 different acts onstage at Trees in Oct. 2022. 

“Deep Ellum is a world unto itself,” said Gianna Madrini, co-founder of Deep Ellum 100, in a statement. “[It’s] the beating heart of the city, where past and present create a certain magic that can’t be bought or fabricated.”

What can be purchased, however, are vinyl copies of Sounds of Deep Ellum, which was released on July 14, pressed by Hand Drawn Records, and features songs from Cure for Paranoia, Lorelei K, Flower Child, Stone Mecca, Labretta Suede and the Motel 6 and others. And tickets are also available to the album release party this Saturday at House of Blues.

A concert to celebrate the LP’s release will unfold Saturday at the Cambridge Room inside the House of Blues.

Jeffrey Liles, artistic director for the Kessler Theater and Longhorn Ballroom, helped assemble the first compilation The Sound of Deep Ellum, back in 1987. It featured then-rising stars like Reverend Horton Heat, New Bohemians and Shallow Reign, and served as inspiration for the 2023 project (Liles isn’t involved with the new project.) He’s long watched as the nerve center of Dallas music has shifted from one location to another.

“I think the aspiration for anybody doing a compilation record that’s geographically specific is to show a sense of community and be able to export that,” said Liles during a recent conversation. “That was the motivation behind doing it the first time — to kind of identify this hotspot where a whole bunch of original music was happening. None of the artists sounded like each other.”

The Sounds of Deep Ellum LP is also not the only significant celebratory event for Deep Ellum’s 150th anniversary.

Sounds of Deep Ellum album release concert at the Cambridge Room at House of Blues, Dallas. 7 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $15.

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.