Clint and Whitney Barlow seem to be running their own unofficial preservation effort in Dallas. The two became local heroes in 2009 when they reopened famed Deep Ellum music venue Trees, and again in 2015 with the re-debut of a newly renovated and equally famous Bomb Factory.
The couple's latest project involved reviving yet another iconic music room: Deep Ellum Live.
Opened in 1991, Deep Ellum Live was a mainstay in the neighborhood during its heyday as the music capitol of North Texas. It hosted artists like Al Green, Queen Latifah, Bjork, David Byrne, Smashing Pumpkins and many more before closing in 2004.
For a couple of years after that, Deep Ellum Live would open its doors for one-off shows here and there. But as of Nov. 11, the space is fully operational under a new name: Canton Hall.
Unlike Trees and the Bomb Factory, the Barlows decided against using the name for which the venue is best known. It makes sense, says Whitney, considering they're moving in a new direction and hope to use it primarily as a private-party venue.
"That was a big struggle," says Whitney of changing the name. "What we're trying to accomplish at Canton Hall is be really heavy on the events side and so I didn't want it to have the word 'live' in it. I didn't want it to be confusing."
During a celebration on Dec. 13, Canton Hall showed guests examples of how they could transform the venue to suit their desired vibe by literally changing the light fixtures and furniture. At the cue of a manager, venue staff traded rustic-looking lights for glamorous chandeliers and substituted those again for a massive disco ball. Canton Hall then has a network of vendors that can cater food and furnish the space.
That's not to say music lovers won't ever be able to enjoy a concert in the revered venue. Canton Hall opened in November with a concert from indie rock group Grizzly Bear, and bands performed there as part of the recent Oaktopia music festival. Metal band Sevendust is playing there on New Year's Eve and Black Keys frontman Dan Auerbach is coming with his band the Easy Eye Sound Revue on Feb. 22, to name just a few of the upcoming concerts. It can hold up to 1,100 people.
Longtime fans can expect the same caliber of sound and lighting systems they've come to experience at the Barlows' other venues as well as the comfort of a familiar room, even if Canton Hall still boasts a fresh coat of paint and spiffy new dance floor. Here's hoping it gets a couple of well-earned scuffs.