For much of the 20th century, Dallas was home to a wide range of vital popular music. By the 1920s, the streets, dance halls, and vaudeville houses of Deep Ellum rang with blues and jazz. Blind Lemon Jefferson was discovered singing the blues on the streets of Deep Ellum but never recorded in Dallas. Beginning in the 1930s, however, artists from Western swing pioneer Bob Wills to blues legend Robert Johnson recorded in a three-story zigzag moderne building at 508 Park Avenue. And from the late 1940s to the mid-1960s, a wrestling arena called the Sportatorium was home to a Saturday night country and rock-and-roll extravaganza called the Big “D” Jamboree.
About the Author
In Images of America: The Dallas Music Scene: 1920s–1960s, longtime collaborators Alan Govenar and Jay Brakefield document this exciting time with rich archival images and build on decades of research. Govenar is an award-winning Dallas-based writer, folklorist, photographer, and filmmaker and is the founder and president of the nonprofit organization Documentary Arts. Brakefield is a retired journalist who now lives near Bryan, Texas, and continues to learn and write about music, history, and culture. Govenar and Brakefield are the authors of Deep Ellum: The Other Side of Dallas.