Last Thursday, KXT got a chance to check out their weekly open jam night known as “Social Thursdaze,” hosted by Jay Indigo. Local musicians and music enthusiasts looking to immerse themselves in a spot with immaculate vibes and talent need to put this event on their calendar.
Upon entering the dimly lit venue, the melodies of an open jam session warmly welcomed all. The first jam, lasting an impressive 15 minutes, showcased the incredible talent of local musicians.
Instruments were passed seamlessly between players, including guitars, trumpets, keys, and a group of at least four vocalists, each bringing their unique flavor to the mix.
The beat died down, and the entire lineup changed. A new drummer, bass player, and a fresh set of guitarists took the stage. Vocalist Jo Indigo kicked off the next jam with powerful vocals that resonated throughout the venue.
Despite the challenge of so many instruments, novice vocalists seemed emboldened, belting out their lyrics with a passion that filled the room.
There was the incredible synergy among the musicians. They played off each other’s sounds with an inspired improvisation that made it feel like lightning in a bottle.
Jon Day is one of the forces behind this creative haven.
“Dope Ellum started as a streetwear brand a couple of years ago,” Day said. “But it’s more than that; it’s almost like a lifestyle. We have a studio in the back, a creative workspace where we’re cultivating talent and facilitating creativity.”
“Airto [Castaneda-Cudney] is the main man,” Jon emphasized. “We’ve expanded our scope to encompass various creative endeavors, from video games and streetwear to film, photography, and live streaming.”
Reflecting on the journey of Dope Ellum, Jon shared, “Last year, there was a fire and flood at our storefront, which was then Ellum Electric, Airto’s electric scooter shop. It underwent reconstruction until May/June of this year, and we rebranded it into Dope Ellum, complete with the Night Rider Coffee Lounge & Stage.”
For Day and Castaneda-Cudney, Dope Ellum is about fostering a sense of community.
“It’s about asking, ‘What are you doing? What can we do together?'” Day said. “It’s personal to us. We’ve put everything into this.”
The Dope Ellum live stream is a unique piece of the puzzle to their production – showcasing the events that are hosted at Dope Ellum. The intentions of connectivity and collaboration run throughout every part of Dope Ellum’s DNA.
Dope Ellum currently hosts a couple of weekly events, including Toxic Tuesday game nights and the beloved Social Thursdaze open jam sessions.
Day’s creative vision includes starting to test the video games he’s been making on the Tuesday game nights. “I’ve had a dream since I was a kid in the ’90s to have a game cafe/game testing center,” he shared. “This is like the beginning of that dream.”
During the day, Dope Ellum also serves as a co-working space with coffee available from Night Rider Coffee, open 9am-4pm. It’s a welcoming environment for creatives to collaborate and bring their ideas to life.
Social Thursdaze at Dope Ellum is not just a music event; it’s a testament to the power of community, creativity and collaboration.
In the heart of Deep Ellum, this hidden gem is nurturing artistic talent and providing a space for people to connect over their shared love of music.
Jessica Waffles is a freelance photographer/videographer and regular contributor to KXT.
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